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Adopt By Experiments

TODO: lose this, merge with Answers by Exp.

You adopt new ways of working together by using Adoption Experiments. With an experiment, you can get some degree of objective evidence that a new practice will work for you, and see what needs to be tuned and tweaked as necessary.

(Note this is the same idea as in Answers by Experiments, except applied here to process adoption.)

Pain Points

  • No one ever tries to introduce new, better practices
  • New practices don’t seem to stick
  • You’re not sure what advice to take from different sources
  • You’ve tried “adopting agile” or some other approach and it failed to deliver results


There are several main benefits to this concept:

  1. Lower risk and cost: before investing in a wide-scale rollout or even a full-fledged pilot program, you’re just trying a small, low-risk, low-cost experiment first.
  2. Easier acceptance: instead of mandating a change to something new and scary, you’re just trying it first. This helps get buy-in from the folks actually doing the work.
  3. Local adaptation: by explicitly using a trial with feedback, you can tweak and tune the practice to better respond to local requirements.

Rather than relying on what might have worked somewhere else with different people, you can inspect and adapt in the proper context: yours.


What Does it Look like?

Each practice comes with its own experiment, which helps you identify the conditions for the experiment, the feedback to look for and how to evaluate it. In the beginning, the feedback and evaluation are very concrete and unambiguous, with no judgment required (that part comes later).

Experiments in The GROWS™ Method look like this:


  1. Steps needed to set up for this experiment: any necessary tools, time to schedule, etc. No experiment should require any large investment in any tool, time or material.


  1. Steps to actually perform the experiment of the new practice.

Evaluate Feedback

  1. How to objectively gather and analyze the results of the experiment.

Experiments are time-boxed, which limits commitment and risk, unlike the more amorphous “change,” which is permanent and open-ended. It’s very clear all involved that you aren’t yet adopting this practice or committing to it. You’re just going to give it a try.

Everyone participates in the experiment and in evaluating the outcome, which gives the participants a chance to “put their own egg in,” as the saying goes. (When Betty Crocker first came out with an instant cake mix, it was a failure. All you had to do was add water to to the mix. They changed the formula so you had to add an fresh egg and water, and now consumers felt like cooks again. That version was a success: level of participation makes a difference!)

In the introductory skill stages, the experiment will be defined for you in each practice. By the higher stages, we’ll show you how to construct your own.

Warning Signs

You’re doing it wrong if…

  • Experiments last six months. They should be no more than a few weeks at the very most.
  • Experiments requires a large investment in expensive tools.
  • Feedback indicates this is working well, and you don’t adopt the practice.
  • Feedback indicates this is not going to help, and you adopt it anyway.

How To Fail Spectacularly

Trying everything all at once. Remember to honor all of the core concepts, especially Take Small Bites, One Thing at a Time, and Agree to Try.

Ignoring feedback if it’s not what you expect. Remember, no experiment fails; all experiments provide data. It’s very possible to get unwanted feedback, but that just means you need to go in a slightly different direction than you’d planned.

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