Build Your Business Like A Scientist

By Courtney McLauchlan, Consultant

One might think that a science lab and an innovation agency have little in common, but many are surprised at how transferable a scientific mindset is to a business environment.

Over the past few months, we have been exploring how we can apply a scientific mindset to the way we do business, so we are able to continuously improve in an informed way.  Coming from a scientific background (I have a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biochemistry), I have always framed challenges as an opportunity to test and learn so I have been working on bringing this approach to life in the office. An experiment on experimentation so to speak.

The Business Of Science
The first question is why. Why do businesses benefit from having a scientific mindset?

Science is the discovery, organisation, understanding and application of knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

Discovery.
Organisation.
Understanding.
Application.

These principles could be applied to any type of business. So the approach of science and business are essentially the same.

The next question; what actually is a scientific mindset?

You just have to Google ‘scientist’ to see the historic stereotype. But gone are the days of a man in a white lab coat. Successful scientists employ a much broader range of skills than just the technical, scientific skills. Just look at Jane Goodall. You may know her as the woman who went and lived with the chimpanzees in Africa. She is a scientist. And an animal rights activist. And an author.

Scientific Mindset

The truth is an accomplished scientist and a successful business professional are more similar than you may initially think. You take how a scientist approaches their work and apply it in a business setting, and you’re set for success. Let’s explore what this mindset looks like:

  • Curiosity in Spades

    They are incredibly curious, and not just about creating a solution but also, exploring the original problem. Science basically IS curiosity; the study of the world around us and asking why things happen and how they happen. Scientists are constantly breaking new ground, so having a curious nature and the ability to explore the unknown is paramount.

  • Reliably Systematic

    They are systematic in the way that they work, following a clear process that leads to a conclusion. This means that their decision-making process is made as a result of the evidence of their findings and that their work can be replicated again and again.

  • Collaborative Competitiveness

    They are not only highly collaborative but also highly competitive. This is driven mainly through funding structures and the race to be the first to discover the new and exciting.

  • Confident with Ambiguity

    Lastly, they work well with ambiguity. The role of a scientist is to uncover the unknown and solve the mysteries of the world around us. They use systematic processes to work through this ambiguity towards an answer.

Again, these are all the traits that we ourselves recruit for. And what makes a business like ours succeed.

Businesses can adopt, learn and optimise from these traits for their own situations because they don’t have the same limitations that scientists experience. Businesses can use their flexibility and adapt the imposed structures from science to elevate their work. And this is exactly what we are doing.

So how can a business adopt a scientific mindset?

We are constantly on the lookout for ways that we can improve how we do things. Can we do it faster? Cheaper? Better? And over the past few months, we have been developing a Experimentation framework to encourage the team to test and learn in a semi-structured way.

Experimentation @ Sense Worldwide

Taking a leaf out of a scientist’s lab book, we have crafted our framework around four key questions that capture the first principles of scientific experimentation, while remaining flexible and simple enough to apply to any business problem at speed.

  1. What do you hope to achieve? (Your goal)
  2. How will you know if you have succeeded? (Success measure)
  3. What happened? (Results/learning)
  4. What will you do? (Application of your learning to a decision)

We are now in the process of testing this framework within our daily business practices, so watch this space for some real life examples of Experimentation in action at Sense Worldwide HQ.


Also published on Medium.