Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
I just finished reading an article from Harvard Business Review titled “Act Like a Scientist: Great leaders challenge assumptions, run experiments, and follow the evidence”. We often talk about making objective business decisions and this article is a nice reminder that we can bring scientific principles into our organizations. The good news is we don’t need to have a degree in science to be successful at it. Here are five things to consider:
BE CURIOUS: I’m hearing an increasing number of companies say that they want job candidates to be curious. Totally makes sense. Curiosity can prompt us to be skeptical, ask questions, explore possibilities, and more. Scientists are curious all the time. That’s often how we get some of the world’s innovations. Think about how promoting and supporting curiosity could benefit your organization. In addition, think about where the organization can show that they’re advocates for being curious at work.
CONSISTENT PROBLEM SOLVING: In science, we often uses curiosity to try to solve problems. Companies can do the same thing. If you think about it, organizations are always dealing with problems of various magnitudes. It’s important for the company to have a problem-solving model that works for them. Every employee should know how to use that model. Maybe offer a “Problem Solving 101” course as part of onboarding.
EMPLOY THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: Speaking of solving problems, it might make some sense for the organization to use the scientific method as part of their problem-solving efforts. The scientific method is used in science to help figure out the best solution with minimal errors. From a business perspective, it allows employees to conduct a root cause analysis, so they don’t try to solve a symptom (versus the real problem), then create and test a hypothesis for presenting a solution.
USE DATA AND ANALYTICS: Scientists look for facts throughout their processes. Facts help them understand the root cause of a problem, identify the probability of a solution, and measure the results. Organizations should do the same thing. Our “facts” are found in financial statements, data, and analytics. But this means having access to good data, knowing where to find it, and most importantly, being able to analyze it.
CREATE PROJECT LABS: Scientists use labs as a place to work and test out ideas. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about “4 Reasons to Start an HR Lab”. If you haven’t checked it out lately, I hope you will. I believe that organizations can use project teams as virtual lab environments to test out ideas. Maybe even consider getting a lab as a third space to spark curiosity and work on a problem. But give teams the ability to try ideas out in a safe space, like a lab.
Organizations are trying to do a lot of things right now. And I know they want results quickly. But sometimes, slow and deliberate wins the race. I could see using a science-based approach being a great way to solve an organization’s biggest problems. You know, the problems that just seem to linger and never really truly get resolved.
If you look at the list above, you’ll notice that businesses already have a lot of what it takes to do this. What they need to do is give people the training and tools, then get out of the way. Let employees use their curiosity and knowledge to make the organization better.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring The National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, NV18