In his book Think Again, Adam Grant suggests that the key to being an effective, innovative entrepreneur is all about being a good scientist. He suggests that being able to frame our work with the mentality of the scientific method – hypothesis, experiment, analysis, hypothesis – allows for the mental flexibility necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
Grant cites an experiment conducted with innovators in a business school in Italy. One group was given a traditional business school education and taught in this scientist mindset. They were encouraged to think of their business strategies as theories, their products as hypotheses, and their product launches as experiments. They were to formulate theories, develop hypotheses, and conduct experiments. When those experiments were complete, they were to see if the data from their experiment confirmed or disproved their theories and adjust, making new hypotheses along the way.
The idea was to encourage innovation and help keep entrepreneurs from locating their identity in their first products. By enforcing this scientific, reworking mindset, entrepreneurs didn’t become overly attached to their products or strategies but oriented their work towards constant change. This increased resiliency to failure but also had a remarkable effect on productivity. Over the year following the scientific training, the group that was trained to be scientists returned 40 times more revenue than the control group entrepreneurs.
Questions to encourage a scientist mindset:
- When was the last time I reconsidered a fundamental piece of my work?
- What “experiments” have I conducted that succeeded? What “experiments” have failed?
- Have I allowed that data to alter my strategies?
- What re-orientation of my identity might be necessary to create a “scientist mindset?”