Experimentation and transformation

Getting real about transformation and how experimentation could be the way forward.

Today I want to share two podcast episodes that I’ve listened to in the past week. On the surface they appear to be about very different things but bear with me while I explain how I see that they build on one another.

In Transformation is Hard, Jocelyn K Glei encourages us to adjust our expectations of the speed and ease of transformation:

“Behind every story of transformation that you admire, there’s always more than meets the eye.”

She shares her own experiences of transforming her career and the hurdles she faced along the way. Showing the process of transformation for what it really is:

“it’s hard and it’s messy and, I’m sorry to say, it takes rather a long time.”

The good news is that Jocelyn presents some ways that might help us to move away from our idealistic view of transformation:

  • ask questions early and often – reasses as you gain new information and insights
  • let the momentum run down – sometimes time and distance are the only ways to gain clarity on what the next move should be
  • pull back the curtain on the myth of overnight success – dig into the story of the journey beyond the final glossy version

This brings me to the second podcast episode on fine-tuning your workspace. It’s about setting up your workspace in a way that helps you to do your best work. Doug Neill explains the various workspaces he’s used over the past few years and how he’s experimented to find out what works for him. What really grabbed my attention was the summary at the end of the episode where he reflects on the benefits of experimentation:

“Because of the experimenting that I have done in the past I do know what I’m looking for. And I’m fairly confident in that vision that I have because of the different types of workspaces that I’ve experimented with. I have first-hand experience with a lot of different types of situations which sets me up to be able to design a workspace that’s probably going to work really well for me. So that’s the benefit of even failed workspace experiments, identifying the things that don’t work well for you is helpful because you know to avoid those things in future.”

Doug distils this into some clear points for improving through iteration that can be applied in any context, not just to workspaces:

  • make small improvements over time
  • don’t stress on getting things perfect
  • learn from the experiment and then apply what you’ve learned to the next iteration

To me, this seems like a natural follow-on from shifting our perception of the transformation process. To break that transformation down into small incremental steps that help us to continually move forward.

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