« Is There a Self-Experimentation Gender Gap? | Main | Announcing Edison 2010-12: Privately-shared experiments, Facebook Connect, and more! »

Is success a function of the number of experiments you try?


Or is it more about which experiments? In my Think, Try, Learn writing I'm working to go deeper into the idea that "There's no such thing as failure, because you can always learn something," which is thin. It also goes to the "A for effort" idea, which again, doesn't address our desire to have our goals reached.

Going back to the question, you can try lots of experiments, but they might not pan out. That's one of the characteristics of trial-and-error discovery. But how do you know which experiments to try? After all, we have limited energy.


Reader Comments (7)

1) I'm in Brussels, Belgium so I love that the picture has an Orval beer in it

2) I believe that it needs to be a mix of methodical / random to generate the best results. Methodical experimentation can be driven by peer experience, which I think is beginning to emerge in groups like QS and sites like Edison. Random experiments have the capacity to produce the unintended, which is great too.

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMisha Chellam
Nice to hear from you, Misha. Nice point re: random. I have a "to blog" post about the role of accidental experiments, esp. in making discoveries. I'll tie in your thought.
December 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
(This was posted on my Facebook page.)

[Curt Rosengren] I think it has to be both. You might accidentally hit the jackpot by trying random experiments, but if you narrow your focus down to experiments that are most relevant to the insights you want to discover, "what you learn" will be more valuable and applicable. And the the greater the number of relevant experiments you try, the more potential there is to hit that jackpot (whatever that looks like for you).
December 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
Makes sense, Curt. I know someone who says you have to take a lot of photos to get good ones. Unfortunately, I take the same approach with my observational humor. The bad ones really flop sometimes!
December 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
I'd simply let my instincts do the deciding, it already knows. Instinctually you'll gravitate to the one that you "like", whether that be because you find it interesting, fun or whatever. The key is to be sensitive to what your instinct is telling you. As you say "there's no failure", so it shouldn't really matter which experiment you do.

By choosing the one that you prefer, you'll at least be getting pleasure out of it, regardless of attaining your goals or not.

There's a great book on decision-making by Jonah Lehrer called "How We Decide" which elaborate on when it's appropriate to decide by instinct or by rational mind.
December 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnton Tandiono
I like your point about instinct, Anton. It goes to some part of us knowing where the work needs to be done. Thanks for the pointer to "How we decide" ( http://is.gd/jFfVm ). It's been on my "Pre-candidates list" - http://www.matthewcornell.org/blog/2007/3/25/a-reading-workflow-based-on-leveens-little-guide.html - for some time. Thanks for reading!
December 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
Well it's quantity... but also quality, with some uncertainty and accident added in to spice it up.
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.