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*Filtering posts tagged experiments at work

  • Experiments at work: 7 ways to try something new in your work life

    When was the last time you tried something new in your business or work life? Experimentation has been a constant theme in my career — recently I’ve been ‘tinkering in my lab’ with some new ideas, developing my Fuel Coaching sessions and working with the BBC on a pilot storytelling workshop for TV journalists.

    Experiments are a great way to test your ideas in front of your audience and get feedback on what works and what doesn’t, and then adapt accordingly. Bringing new approaches to what I do and how I do it keeps my offering fresh and relevant.

    Fancy trying something new? Here are seven ways to inject experimentation into your work life:

    1. Walk in other people’s shoes. Sometimes we get stuck in a ‘bubble’ — our fixed way of doing things. So when was the last time you looked at your business, brand or product through a different lens? Whether you’re a marketing director for a brand or a freelance web designer, I recommend walking in other people’s shoes. Read about my experiences getting my shoes dirty.
    2. Re-frame your work life around YOU. It can feel a luxury to stop and focus on what fulfills us, but answering the big questions is vital to our personal and professional success. Questions such as: “how can I do the work I really want to be doing?”, “how can I re-frame my working life so it’s more Me?” or “how can I up my game to make more of an impact in the organisation?” The last few weeks I’ve been continuing with my walk and talk coaching sessions. I’ve worked with an executive who wants to pursue a new path, a consultant looking to take his career up a notch and a senior marketing executive transitioning to a new role. One common theme is the opportunity to re-frame a work life around You. Make some changes in your work life, take some inspiration from what I discovered on my walk n’talks.
    3. Fix things that suck at work. If you’re wanting to experiment in your organisation or workplace, a great place to start is by looking at those things around you that feel broken, and think about what you’d do to fix them. Whether your organisation has too many meetings or the office around you is uninspiring, what would you do to change it? Check out my post of what I think is broken in the world of work, and my prescription for change.
    4. Shine a light on your thinking. Many people miss a trick by hiding away their opinion and stories. But to stand out in your industry, organisation or job market, you need to share what you’re thinking. Find the digital medium that works for you — whether Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium — and let us know what’s under your bonnet. See what gets traction and how it changes perceptions. If you need help to get started on Medium, check out my ten tips.
    5. Test an idea on the side. If you want to try out an idea without taking a huge “should I actually quit my job?” risk, why not test it on the side? From Tina Roth Eisenberg’s temporary tattoo company Tattly to Matt Lane’s beer subscription club Beerbods, there is plenty of inspiration out there for brands and businesses that started out ‘on the side’. Whether it’s testing an online business idea or starting a meetup group in your community, if you’ve got an itch to scratch, do it!
    6. Celebrate your point of difference. If you’re stuck in a job where you struggle to stand out, or worse, feel like you have to put on a mask each time you walk into the office, how you could celebrate what makes you different? Being YOU gives you the authenticity and courage to stick to your guns. To be confident with that different point of view, to be happy zigging when everyone else zags. Sometimes easier said than done, see if my post helps: Having the courage to be different when everyone around you screams “fit in!”
    7. Read something different. One of the things I like about Twitter is that I’m able to discover interesting articles in publications that I don’t regularly read. From the New Scientist to The New Yorker, it’s great extending your world view. I love to the do same offline — browsing a magazine stand or bookstore to discover new journals. One of my favourite newsstands is Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum in Amsterdam — when I was there recently, I stumbled across a great magazine called ‘Nous’. If you don’t have a magazine store near by, consider a subscription to Stack (they send you a different independent magazine every month).

    So try something new tomorrow. Write a blog post. Turn a boring meeting into a reinvigorating walk and talk. Shake things up. Let me know how you get on!

    And if you need a hand, I’m here to help. Whether you need someone to give a talk or workshop to get your people fired up about doing things differently; or you need a fresh perspective to figure out and capture the essence of your business; or an outsider to guide you through your career or work life via one of my London walk and talks, get in touch hello@iansanders.com.

  • If we’re going to have longer work lives, let’s make room for experiments

    This weekend a band called Brigade is reuniting in London. They’re playing a gig at The Academy in Islington, ten years to the day their debut album was released. Their journey started back in 2003 at The Bull & Gate pub in north London. I was there. As a founding partner in Open Top Music, Brigade was our first project, an experiment in managing and developing new talent. Open Top Music was a great adventure, an opportunity to work with old friends and contacts in the music industry. Like the best adventures we didn’t have a map, instead we made it up as we went along. We aimed high and had fun; even attending the international music fair ‘Midem’ in Cannes in 2004. The venture didn’t last too long, but it was a fun experiment. We were trying something new.

    I believe taking risks and experimenting with our work life can benefit us in many ways. In last weekend’s FT Magazine, Simon Kuper (‘How to live to 100 and be happy’) painted a picture of a future where we’ll work into our mid seventies, with multiple ‘acts’ in our career instead of just pursuing a single-track. Perhaps experiments could take place in the ‘intervals’ between each act? On my recent Fuel Safaris I have been advising executives and entrepreneurs to inject some experimentation into their work lives, whether it’s scratching an entrepreneurial itch or adding a new string to their bow.

    The last sixteen years of my career - my third act- has been a real adventure and involved lots of experimentation. Here are some of the benefits I’ve noticed along the way:

     

    1. Make ideas happen. A couple of years ago, I co-founded and edited a crowdfunded, community generated, publication Trawler. It was a test. Could we produce a newspaper, could we raise enough money to make it happen? Although it was a not-for-profit side project, it was satisfying reaching the finish line, knowing that we made our idea happen. The important thing about an experiment is that you don’t leave it as an idea on the shelf, you do something.
    2. Get experience in other worlds. One experiment saw me launch a little business called Ignission, that (amongst other things) created websites for parliamentarians. This was in 2001 when not many members of parliament were online. I remember going to meet a peer in the Members’ Bar at the House of Lords to talk about his website. It was a step into a completely different world. An experiment can take you out of your bubble into other worlds.
    3. Learning by analogy. On the face of it, advising start up businesses on storytelling may feel a long way from the smoky bars and pubs where I helped launch a rock band in 2003. But both activities are ‘startups’, and I was able to take lessons from a band to a brand.
    4. Be entrepreneurial. In 2005 I had a meeting with a senior executive at Benetton who wanted an introduction to an ad agency to get an ad placed in the London Evening Standard. None of my contacts could move fast enough (he wanted an ad designed and placed that week), so I stepped in, creating an agency of my own - OHM London - and sorting everything out in 48 hours. What I thought was a one-off experiment turned into a relationship with the fashion brand that lasted eighteen months. An experiment can be a low-risk way of testing a business model, generating new revenues.
    5. Have fun. Let’s face it: many people’s work lives are not fun. Going off piste to test an idea, start a side project, or try something with friends should be fun. Looking back at my Open Top Music adventure, it wasn’t about the money (there wasn’t much of that), but it was certainly fun.


    In a world where we are living and working longer, where the notion of retirement will seem as old-fashioned as a life without smartphones, let’s have more adventures.

    In the old days, it seemed career success was about reaching a destination, getting that brass name plate on the door, having a grand job title. In the future of work, I think the emphasis should be on enjoying the journey, not reaching the destination.


    So let’s experiment along the way...