09 Feb 2023
We can spend ages on brainstorming good (or bad) ideas, but without testing them, they are just concepts without any evidence to prove that they would work. So, the question to ask is not “what’s your idea?” but “how have you tried to test it?” The Experiments Team was set up to test ideas and approaches that could help connect with communities and support them in finding solutions that will reduce climate emissions and restore nature..
This is our manifesto. It’s how we try to work.
Dream big but start small.
We ask big 'what if?' questions. We believe a better world is possible and we're not held back by what currently exists. But you have to start somewhere and learn through doing. Trying something out at small scale will reveal different insights from a focus group and a pilot can grow into something much more far-reaching.
Act fast and think slow.
When experimenting, we want to test out ideas, try things out. If it’s good enough for now and safe enough to try, we don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But we also take deep dives into a topic, reading around the subject to help surface assumptions and challenges. Reflection is an important part of the creative process and we do our best to make time for it in our schedules.
Fail, take notice and move on.
We value and are honest about mistakes or failures because every experiment, especially when it doesn’t give the result you expect, is a way to learn and a foundation to build on. The journey itself is valuable – the process of discovery, learning together and sharing is as important as a practical outcome.
Discomfort is the root of all growth.
Tackling something outside our comfort zone helps us meet new people with different world views, experience or expertise. We welcome constructive challenge as an opportunity for learning. Sometimes when we are uncomfortable it means our power is being challenged; we recognize this as part of the transition we need to a fairer world. And we know that design processes are always bumpy.
Make with not for.
We believe the people most impacted by climate change or degraded nature are the best judge of what's right and fair for action in their communities. We strive to be careful of unintended consequences of a solution, and to respect, listen and learn from connecting with people outside our usual bubble – and where possible to co-create ideas.
Stay flexible and take care of one another.
We take care of each other’s wellbeing and are not hidebound by roles. Being flexible and stepping up when help is needed builds a stronger team. This work can be draining and challenging - especially if we are doing it well. Creating time and space where we feel supported and safe is an important counterpoint to stepping outside our comfort zone.
Test on the ground.
We believe in being constructive and encourage builds on thinking. We say Yes And? - not Yes But. Both And?- not Either/Or. If This – What Next? Because we have a bias for action and aim to test our ideas with many small bets, relying on real world feedback rather than opinion or assumption.
Gather and give back.
We gather insights from a wide range of sources and people and believe in the power of our networks to try and find out new ideas, rather than doing it all ourselves. We try to be movement-generous, sharing our tools and knowledge freely with our colleagues and communities. If we have an idea that we don’t have the capacity to develop, we encourage others to ‘steal from us’. The more we give away, the more we will all flourish over time.
Go with the energy.
Ideas may take us where we least expect. Sometimes (often) we have to accept that we won’t be able to do all the things we set out to do. It’s OK to shift focus and pay attention to one strong idea over another for a time.
Be curious and look wider and further than the rest of the organisation - share knowledge and skills.
We will always consider alternatives regardless of what others are doing, thinking or saying. We believe an experimental approach pays huge dividends and helps expand Friends of the Earth's reach. In the long-term we hope that all teams in the organisation will have the skills and confidence to work in an experimental way.
If you'd like to know more about our approach to experimentation and innovation, please contact us.