Experiments and mis-steps

Waze suggested this an alternate route to work a few days back to avoid traffic on my usual route. In the spirit of experimentation, I thought I’d give it a try.

The route choice ended up taking doubling the amount of travel time. And, my instinct mid-way through the journey was to wonder what I did wrong.

Soon enough, it hit me that this mis-step was simply the cost of experimentation. If I’d reduced my travel time, I’m sure I would have congratulated myself for the intelligent risk. This result was just the flip side of that. The only logical action after an experiment like this is taking the time to reflect and learn. In this case, never try that route again was a good learning.

Constant experimentation – beginning with a hypothesis and ending with reflection – is a powerful approach to continuous learning. But, it also requires us to make peace with unexpected mis-steps.

Experiments and mis-steps go together. You cannot have one without having the other.