Experimental organisations

Helping organisations to become more experimental and evidence-based

Why it matters

Policymakers and practitioners working in science innovation, entrepreneurship and business policies face complex and continuously evolving systems and have limited evidence on how they can most effectively influence outcomes. 

Experimental approaches, when embedded into policy development and implementation, can help accelerate learning, by uncovering knowledge gaps and systematically testing assumptions to build the evidence base. Experiments help to inform decisions about how to iterate, scale or continue an intervention, driving policy impact.

Individual experiments, whether small or large scale, can provide valuable insights. But the real benefits come from creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement across the organisation. This can be achieved through the systematic adoption of the principles, processes and different tools of experimentation. 

Our work and impact

Building an experimental organisation, with experimentation embedded in everyday practice throughout the organisation, is rarely easy. At IGL we work with organisations wanting to build the mindset, culture and capabilities to become more experimental organisations.

Building more experimental organisations has been core to IGL’s mission from the outset. We have long believed that wider adoption of experimentation, both as a mindset and as a method, is vital to more impactful policies. With our work, we’ve sought to increase policymakers’ openness and capabilities for experimentation. 

Our work with the IGL Partners has provided us with the opportunity to facilitate cross-national collaboration and hands-on support to government agencies wanting to become more experimental as organisations, and not just to implement ad hoc experiments.

We've actively engaged with the wider policy community to advocate for further adoption of experimental policymaking. Through our conferences, workshops, publications and presentations at different forums (such as the Eurogroup, UN-ECE Transformative Innovation Network, the OECD or GEN), we’ve sought to normalise the idea of policy experimentation and showcase both its feasibility and value in this policy field.

We successfully advocated for increased investment on policy experimentation through experimentation funding calls, and we have been working with the European Commission and the UK government to support their first dedicated funding calls for randomised experiments in this field, which led to many organisations setting up their first experiments.  

Becoming an experimental organisation is a journey that requires building the organisation’s internal capabilities to think experimentally and undertake experiments. We’ve supported over 35 government agencies worldwide through a range of capacity building activities, including customised experimentation workshops and group-wide learning programmes. For instance, we set up the TAFTIE Experiment! Taskforce with the European network of innovation agencies, providing participants from 17 European innovation agencies with capacity building covering the wide range of skills needed to become experimental.

We’ve also created online resources that help organisations interested in becoming more experimental, such as our guide on running randomised controlled trials in innovation, entrepreneurship and growth. More recently, we created a guide for how to embed experimentation and enable dynamic learning to help missions deliver their ambitious objectives.

Through our work we’ve reflected on organisations' experiences in becoming more experimental, the barriers they face, and how to overcome them. And we are currently applying those lessons by supporting the European Commission to promote more experimental innovation policy across Europe.

Key resources