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The Experimentation Field Book

About the Book

Experimentation is much talked about in the abstract, but poorly understood in practice. Yet it is the crucial connector between imagining an idea and making it happen. The Experimentation Field Book offers a hands-on, structured guide through the design and execution of your very own experiments. Authors Professor Jeanne Liedtka, Elizabeth Chen, Natalie Foley (MBA '11) and David Kester outline how to design and run tests to address a variety of challenges—improving an existing solution, fixing something that’s broken, making a new product, or launching a new service for your existing customers.

Teaching Package: The authors are creating an educators package to accompany the book for teachers and facilitators, including teaching plans and rubrics for templates. To stay up to date about the package, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with updates soon.

Experimentation Field Book Video

The Experimentation Field Book is now available for order on the Columbia Business School Publishing website and other major retailers, including Amazon.

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  • Table of Contents

    Introduction to the Experimentation Process

    The Five Steps
    STEP 1: Framing Testable Ideas
    STEP 2: Defining Evidence
    STEP 3: Selecting Your Test
    STEP 4: Building the Prototype
    STEP 5: Executing. Analyzing. Iterating.

    TEMPLATE 1 Progress Tracker
    TEMPLATE 2 Value/Effort Matrix
    TEMPLATE 3 Concept Snapshot
    TEMPLATE 4 Storyboard
    TEMPLATE 5 Surfacing Assumptions
    TEMPLATE 6 Prioritizing Assumptions
    TEMPLATE 7 Assumptions to Evidence
    TEMPLATE 8 Data Sort
    TEMPLATE 9 Say/Do Continuum
    TEMPLATE 10 Test Design Decision Flow
    TEMPLATE 11 Test Digest
    TEMPLATE 12 Prototype Format Selection
    TEMPLATE 13 Test Audit Checklist
    TEMPLATE 14 Concept Test History

  • Reviews

    "This is one of those rare books that everyone should read. We are in the era of smart technology that will require every person and organization to learn, unlearn, and relearn at the pace of technological change. This book will help you become a faster, better learner."

    Edward D. Hess, professor emeritus of business administration, Darden School of Business, and author of fifteen books including Own Your Own Work Journey! The Path to Meaningful Work and Happiness in the Age of Smart Technology and Radical Change


    "Liedtka,Chen, Foley, and Kester present the most detailed and structured articulation of the experimentation process I've seen outside of the sciences. The Experimentation Field Book allows those skilled in the art to put these methods to practice immediately. "

    Graham Henshaw, director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center, William and Mary


    "It used to be that we would tinker, try things out, prototype, and ask around and see how our vision of a new service formed. Forget how it used to be. Experimentation has grown up. The ideas and templates in this practical and accessible field book are the most clear and concise I’ve ever seen on using intelligent experimentation to surge through to success, collaboratively and cost-effectively."

    Eddie Obeng, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship, Henley Business School, and innovation lead and educator, Pentacle: The Virtual Business School


    "Experiments are conducted every day in business to test if new ideas work before investing heavily in them. But many companies lack the right skills to experiment effectively. This book provides an indispensable guide all the way through, from framing the experiment and gathering the evidence for it to building the prototype, analyzing the results, and making the right adaptations. It’s sharp, succinct, and actionable, with four great case studies driving the narrative. And you won’t need to go near a science lab to learn the process!"

    Jeremy Myerson, director, WORKTECH Academy, and professor emeritus, Royal College of Art


    "With software and AI consuming more and more economic value, it's not an exaggeration to say experiments are the future of business. Without the creative confidence this book offers, you're playing at a disadvantage."

    Alex Cowan, author of Hypothesis-Driven Development: A Guide to Smarter Project Management


    "In an ever-evolving world filled with challenges, the power to leverage innovation is paramount for individuals, teams, and organizations alike. Yet, navigating the practicalities of adopting new technologies and facilitating successful change can be a daunting endeavor. Enter The Experimentation Field Book – a refreshingly pragmatic guide that offers actionable insights for tackling transformational goals, whether they are small-scale initiatives or larger endeavors. With this invaluable resource at your disposal, you'll not only embrace change but also lead it with exceptional effectiveness."

    Stephen Jamieson, Global Head of Circular Economy Solutions, SAP

    "The Experimentation Field Book covers the end-to-end process of experimentation in a very accessible way. An excellent and logical work."

    Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat, University of Cambridge Judge Business School

  • Articles

    DK&A, Experimentation in the Field: In Conversation with Jeanne Liedtka, 29 November 2023.

    Design Thinkers Academy London, Top 10 Innovation Books to read in 2024, Design Thinkers Academy London, 17 January 2024.

    Alison Partners, Better Experiments for Better Learning, What We're Reading Now, 30 January 2024.

    Management Today, The Power of Experiments

    Darden Report, New Book Coauthored by UVA Darden Professor Offers Guide to Innovation through Experimentation, 13 February 2024.


  • Podcasts

    "GDTA Spotlight with Prof. Dr. Jeanne Liedtka", Global Design Thinkers Alliance, April 2024.

    "The Story of Jeanne Liedtka", Creative Leadership, 2 May 2024.

    "Jeanne Liedtka: Design Thinking, Unleashing Creativity in Business", The Out Thinkers Podcast, Episode 113.

    "The Experimentation Field Book with Natalie Foley" — DT101 E123, Design Thinking 101

    "Why Businesses Need to Experiment More" with Natalie Foley, David Kester & Alan Penlington, Design Thinkers Academy London

    "Teaching and Applying Design Thinking in Higher Ed + The Experimentation Field Book with Liz Chen", Fluid Hive.


  • About the Authors

    Jeanne LiedtkaJeanne Liedtka

    Jeanne Liedtka is a Professor of Management at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. Formerly the Executive Director of the School’s Batten Institute, a foundation established to develop thought leadership in the fields of entrepreneurship and corporate innovation, Jeanne has also served as Chief Learning Officer for the United Technologies Corporation (UTC), headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, and as the Associate Dean of the MBA Program at Darden. Jeanne’s current teaching responsibilities focus on design thinking, innovation, and organic growth in the MBA and Executive Education Programs at Darden.

    Jeanne’s current research interests focus on exploring how design thinking can be used to enrich our ability to create inclusive strategic conversations about organizational futures. Her book, The Catalyst: How You Can Lead Extraordinary Growth, co-authored with R. Rosen and R. Wiltbank, was based on a three year study of operating managers who excelled at producing revenue growth in mature organizations. Published in March 2009, The Catalyst was named one of Business Week’s best innovation and design books of 2009. Her most recent book, Designing for Growth: A design toolkit for managers was published in June, 2011.

    Jeanne joined Darden in 1989, having received her DBA in Management Policy from Boston University and her MBA from the Harvard Business School. She has been involved in the corporate strategy field since beginning her career as a strategy consultant for the Boston Consulting Group."


    Natalie FoleyNatalie Foley (MBA '11)

    Natalie Foley is the author of The Experimentation Field Book: A Step-by-Step Project Guide & is passionate about getting a new product or program from 0 to 1 and then on the path to scale.

    Currently, she leads a team that designs, test & launch new products & services at Opportunity@Work, a startup social enterprise that is rewiring the labor market for the 71M workers in America who are STARs* (Skilled Through Alternative Routes, instead of a four-year degree).

    Previously, she served as the CEO of Peer Insight, a venture studio and innovation consulting firm. She has contributed to dozens of new business ventures with clients like Kimberly-Clark, AARP, Canon, the Good Samaritan Society and ArcBest, several of which have become multi-million dollar revenue streams.

    Before Peer Insight, Natalie worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers & IBM, where she led strategy and tech projects in various countries, and across all organizational functions, and both private & federal clients.

    She holds an MBA from UVA’s Darden School of Business and a BA in Psychology from The College of William & Mary."


    Liz ChenLiz Chen

    Liz Chen is an associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and also serves as the Health Behavior MPH Concentration Lead. Dr. Chen has over a decade of experience as a teacher, public health practitioner, and researcher and earned both her MPH and PhD degrees in this department. Dr. Chen’s research interests are at the intersection of adolescent health, technology and design thinking (i.e. human-centered design). Her current research focuses on how to integrate design thinking mindsets and methodologies into public health training, practice, and research. Dr. Chen has a pan-campus role at Innovate Carolina, UNC-CH's our office of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development and serves as the director for the university’s graduate Certificate in Innovation for the Public Good. A native of Westwood, MA, Dr. Chen served as a high school science teacher through Teach For America in Eastern North Carolina before starting her public health training. She was also named to the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 class for Social Entrepreneurship for her work in developing and launching the Real Talk storytelling app for teens.


    David KesterDavid Kester

    David is the Founder of strategic design consultancy, DK&A, and the executive training school Design Thinkers Academy London. He works with business, governments and the third sector to turn systemic challenges into innovative brands, products and services. As former CEO for the UK Design Council he pioneered projects with the NHS and shaped the first economic report on design to HM Treasury. David's current projects range across sustainable technology, transport, retail transformation, and social equity. He is leading the Mayor of London's Design Lab on workforce integration. As a committed educator, he is an a Hon. Prof at Warwick Business School, and a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art.