Keeping an experimenter mindset

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Remember science experiments back in school? When was the last time you asked five why’s in a row?Keeping an experimenter mindset is hard.

Science is effective because it is constantly testing theories against reality. The great scientist Richard Feynman once said “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”

The word “experiment” does not help. When we experiment we don’t know what to expect. It implies that someone doesn’t know what they’re doing. This perspective is counter-intuitive because we have been conditioned to think we must know everything.

Being a former scientist has helped to keep an experimenter mindset. Although it has not been easy. Adult life gets in the way of how we used to work to fill out our science note books. Observing the world around you, researching, hypothesising, testing and starting all over again, is not widespread.

Behavioural values

Recently I reflected what behavioural values have nurtured my experimenter mindset. I have three.

Being a lifelong learner has helped to nurture my curiosity. I aim to balance being and doing in different ways:


“Curiosity is the real teacher” is a quote attributed to French poet and philosopher Jean-Pierre Thibault. It highlights the idea that curiosity is a powerful driver of learning and growth. True understanding and mastery come from our own innate curiosity and desire to learn

  • always finding my way
  • focus on what inspires you
  • consume variety of content
  • reduce the noise level


Out of the three values, courage has personally been the most challenging. I love Napoleon Bonaparte’s quote: “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”

My experimenter mindset was in autopilot as a scientist. When I transitioned to building digital experiences I quickly learned that cultures of experimentation are not pervasive. Fixed budgets, time commitments, personal agendas and other factors get on the way. If we want to remain relevant to customers we need the courage to build better solutions rather than playing it safe by optimising.

To nurture my courage during the good and bad, times these activities have helped:

  • be honest with yourself
  • experiment with small risks during bad times
  • experiment with larger risks during good times


As experimenters we must adhere to a certain code of conduct when collecting data from people. Ethical experimentation can not be ignored. With the advent of more AI in our lives responsibility is even more important.

When designing experiments like a fake door (you pretend to provide a product that does not exist) be considerate about the emotional response of the user. I have experienced fake door tests. The aftermath experience was disappointing and did not prompt me to either come back or spread the word. Be responsible with people’s emotions.

My best advice to remain responsible is simple. Always respect others.

Environmental Factors

Beyond behavioural values, the environment matters. These three environmental factors have supported my experimenter mindset.

Different cultures

I have lived across two continents and nine cities (and counting), and speak two languages. Every culture offers different ways to communicate, observe the world around you, different ways to find joy, and many more. Openness to listen and learn fosters the curiosity and courage inside of you.

Get out and explore this beautiful planet!


Shapes, colours, smells, fire, water, dirt, air. Who does not love nature? Nature is my go to place to recharge. And recharge is fundamental as an experimenter. Every time you experiment you are nurturing momentum to find the way for a structured and sustainable way of learning. Nature’s energy feeds my engine to make progress during good and bad times.

How do you recharge?


I love the “less is more” perspective. Constraints are the super power to trigger creative thinking. When you are designing experiments to validate assumptions fast and cheap, constraints are fundamental.

I consider myself to be a minimalist. It is a lifestyle that promotes simplicity, clarity, purpose, and freedom from distraction, stress, and consumerism. For example, I wear no watch, own no car, and I do not have unlimited mobile data.


Beyond behavioural values and the environment, there is a third element to keep an experimenter mindset. Mindset.

If you are a digital builder, ask yourself which of the following you embrace. There is no right or wrong answer.

from opinions to observations of the world
from guesswork to hypothesis
from feature/solution roadmaps to options
from startup to business experiment
from product to bold experiment
from product/market fit to theory
from requirements to evidenced-based data

My final advice is to embrace an experimenter’s mindset by always starting small. Keep your mind open regardless of the outcome. Don’t judge. Build a string of experiences to keep trying.

Would love to hear from you if any behavioural value, environmental factor or mindset statement helped you along the way.

”All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”. Ralph Waldo Emerson.



How can we stay in touch with reality to allow for infinite possibilities? I aim to inspire, think differently and challenge traditional ideas. [read more]