How Wordle proves that Experimentation works

I recently posted this on LinkedIn, but I thought I’d elaborate on the metaphor this week.

What is Wordle?
If you haven’t tried it yet, Wordle is a popular online game where you have to guess a 5-letter word within 6 tries – and it’s quite fun and addictive. Every day there is a new word to guess, and everyone gets the same word. It cleverly lets you post how you solved (or didn’t) the daily puzzle – which often sparks some lovely conversation online.

How is it like Experimentation? You learn after each attempt
Interestingly, there are a lot of parallels between Wordle and the Craft of Experimentation. Firstly, after each guess/try, Wordle gives you information about whether you got any letters correct. This is exactly like Experimentation – where with each test you run, you learn a little bit more about your problem space.

Each iteration is a better guess
Secondly, in Wordle, knowing what letters are correct (and more importantly, which letters were wrong), you make a better and informed guess. Again, just like with Experimentation, you take information from the previous iteration, make some educated changes to your treatment, and test again – hoping that your next guess will result in better results.

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But time is limited
Thirdly, Wordle only gives you 6 tries. If you cannot solve it within 6 tries, you try a new puzzle the next day. Again, like Experimentation, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that at all companies, you have limited time or resources to achieve a goal – i.e., you can only iterate so many times before you have to move on.

Research gives you a leg up
Fourthly, you can get a leg up in Wordle if you learn of off someone else’s attempts. Maybe they started the puzzle before you. Now, of course, some would call this cheating, but in this metaphor, one could argue that this is simply Research. When you Experiment, you can absolutely learn (and achieve goals) faster if you base your iterations off of Research as it helps you take better guesses on what will work.

Research helps explain the problem, but Experimentation tells you if your solution works
Fifthly (is that a word?), in Wordle, your first guess is exactly that – a guess. No matter how much Research you have, at the end of the day, everything is a guess and you won’t know if your guess is right until the game gives you information. In the world of Experimentation, every treatment is a guess of what works. Research is often great at identifying problems and hinting what a possible solution could be – but it is only through Experimentation that you get solid evidence on whether your guess was right. Always remember, what people say they do isn’t always what they actually do.

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Sharing results inspires others to Experiment
Finally, if you’re like me, when you see people share their results online, it inspires me to do the Wordle of the day. You do the same thing when you try to build an Experimentation Culture. When you share results throughout your company, you inspire others to Experiment as well.

See you in 2 weeks,

Rommil Santiago
Founder, Experiment Nation

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Rommil Santiago