Thriving Through Disruption With Experimentation

by Pranav Ramesh
February 15, 2022

Change can be intimidating. It cannot always be anticipated or planned for in advance. And it can also be catastrophic if ignored.

Consider the disruption that’s been sweeping across global markets in these last two years. Nobody, not the market analysts or predictive data technology, could have warned us about the pandemic or the large-scale upheaval that followed.

Change is inevitable. It’s the only guarantee in business and in life. The only question is—how much have you done to prepare for it.

My industry is recruiting. The impact that 2020’s worldwide closure of business and operations had on my industry was immeasurable. In addition to the pandemic-induced crisis, my company was experiencing a challenge unique to my industry; people stopped hiring.

Most businesses did what everybody around them was doing, worked from home, delayed projects, and waited for the crises to pass. Passive job seekers too were hunkering down, not looking for new opportunities and opting to stay with their current employers.

Like businesses all over the world, I had to pivot and adapt—or close shop.

I had begun experimenting with the remote work model within my recruiting team, some years prior and had developed a basic organizational framework that could support it. When lockdowns hit, and public spaces were cordoned off, I was able to expand this framework to include not just my recruiting team but also other departments within PTP. We hired globally, managed operational costs, and kept going when many others weren’t prepared to make the shift.


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How can a culture of experimentation add value to your business?
As organizations grow, they acquire organizational processes. These processes are essential for the company’s planning and management. But when the strength of these processes is tested by the next big disruptive event, reality will set in. If these circumstances don’t help you adapt to the change, then you need to be prepared to pivot and develop new ones. This is where having a culture of experimentation will not only create value for your organization, but potentially keep the business running.

• Experimentation and innovation are the lifeblood of successful entrepreneurship. Central to your ability to innovate is a process of experimentation that makes it possible for your organization to develop new products and services.

• It’s great for morale. By encouraging experimentation and measuring results, you give employees more space to innovate and try new ideas. This, in turn, leads to greater engagement and accountability.

• You break down silos. An experimental work culture automatically encourages greater collaboration. Between different departments and within the hierarchy.

• Most importantly, you stay agile. Experimentation allows you to develop new processes, workshop innovating solutions before problems arise and stay on top of market fluctuations.
How can you encourage experimentation at your organization?

Make curiosity a virtue
“Curiosity doesn’t kill the cat; it kills the competition.” – Sam Walton

I’ve often found that organizations that tout the virtues of innovation and discovery rarely seem to expect it from their own employees. There is a misconception that innovation is expected only from leadership. The truth is innovation should be welcome from any individual in the organizational hierarchy, from intern to CEO.

I learnt an important lesson in the value of surprises when I began conducting interviews via video. When recruitment first began to move online, it was limited to a few job portals and social media websites, like LinkedIn. Though phone interviews had existed for decades previously, video interviews didn’t enter the picture till the mid-2010s (most candidates didn’t even own a webcam!). When software like Skype and FaceTime began gaining traction, so too did the possibility of conducting job interviews online.

PTP’s first encounter with video interviews occurred when a bright, young candidate decided to apply for an internship at PTP, not with a standard resume but rather a video resume, shot entirely on her camera phone! Video resumes are more commonplace today, but back in 2014, this was still a unique and refreshing approach to job seeking. The video was well lit, well-produced, and gave the candidate a chance to create a memorable first impression. Naturally, we were hooked and invited her for an interview, the first round of which was conducted entirely online through Skype. Another first for us, and this laid the ground work for greater experimentation with video conferencing tools in recruitment.

You can only tap into these kinds of resources if everyone in the organization, from the leadership on down, sees the value in unexpected turns. We could have rejected the video interview as being non-standard but if we had we wouldn’t have been able to get ahead of the curve. When companies adopt the mindset of accepting curiosity, learning and evolution will inevitably follow.

Place your faith in data before opinion
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content, to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”- Francis Bacon
Most of us suffer from a tendency toward confirmation biases where we look for the results that we want in the data we receive. Studies have proven that we are more accepting of data that confirms our choices. But for experimentation to be effective, we need to accept the data, even when it goes against our opinions. When there is a clash between differing options on which path to take, the data acts as the arbiter.

One of PTP’s specializations is recruiting for big data roles. Working with data science consultants has given me extraordinary insight into the value that data metrics and big data analysis can provide to almost any business, especially ones that deal with large and varied customer bases and inventories. It’s no surprise really that companies like Amazon and Google are actively invested in developing cutting-edge AI that can improve their data analytics.

Experimentation should be a core value for every organization but I am not suggesting that all management decisions can or should be based on experiments. Not everything can be measured, for example, the effectiveness of soft skills like communication and collaboration on any given project.
But test everything that can be tested, leverage the full power of data science and analysis—a field that is growing exponentially more valuable to corporate strategy — and explore options that can aid management decision-making and contextualize debate. Make mistakes, learn from them, build on those learnings, and create an organization that is all the better for it.


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About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has partnered with some of the biggest Fortune brands to offer excellence of service and best-in-class team building for the last 25 years.

PTP’s diverse and global team of recruiting, consulting, and project development experts specialize in a variety of IT competencies which include:

  • Cybersecurity
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Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunities employer. As an industry leader in IT consulting and recruitment, specializing in diversity hiring, we aim to help our clients build equitable workplaces.

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