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Playing around

When you’re testing a new approach, are you really testing it or are you just playing around?

When we play around, we don’t expect to get anywhere meaningful. We just try out this or that and see where it leads us. Some things work, some don’t, which is ok because we’re just, well, playing around.

Testing is different. Testing requires a rigorous approach by clarifying the assumptions, specifying the variables that are to be tested and a measure to evaluate the outcome so that we can later determine whether the test was successful or not and what the best parameters are for the task.

Playing around is most useful when you’re in a creative process, looking for new ideas not knowing, yet, what answer you’re looking for exactly.

Testing is most useful when you have a specific answer in mind that you want verified from the test and (usually) when you have a timeframe within which you want the result.

When you say “Let’s try this out!”, are you playing around or are you testing? Both have their place but it’s good to be intentional about which one you need for the task at hand.

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