How to balance employee initiative and continuous A/B testing

by Artem Semjanow

ab testing
Image source: 123RF

Continuous A/B testing is an integral part of any great business strategy. There are always improvements that can be made in your business model, and A/B tests are the best way to figure out which methods your target audience responds to best.

However, it’s just as crucial to keep an eye on employee morale and initiative in the midst of these tests. Remember that any project decision made means that you have rejected one or more alternate solutions. In many cases, these alternatives are ones set forth by other team members. 

Your team members should feel like their suggestions are listened to and considered in a serious manner, even if the project ultimately goes in a different direction. In addition, it’s helpful to explain why one choice is made over another, mainly if the idea was brought up by a team member. 

It can be challenging to strike a balance between encouraging your team initiative and performing strategic A/B testing. A/B testing is quite expensive and can take up to a third of the development budget, so it’s impossible to test every team member’s ideas. It can be beneficial to think of nurturing your team’s morale and ambition as an ongoing A/B test for management. Here are a few strategies that can smooth the process.

1. Keep everyone in the loop about project priorities.

Collect all of the company’s large projects ( or “epics” – large overarching initiatives) in one place, and maintain a separate task board for any large projects. At least once a week, schedule a general “sync up” meeting that includes everyone. 

During the meeting, let staff members and management go over the state of each project and point out which are currently in the top priority slots for completion. There should not be more than 4-6, otherwise the team might lose focus.

For each project, it is also often worthwhile to have the team or person overseeing it point out any places where there are problems or sticking points. 

Having these kinds of meetings allows everyone in the room to clearly see and understand the most pressing issues for the company. With this level of clear direction, the team can offer relevant, specific ideas for improvement in a way that is targeted to solving a particular problem. 

This leads to higher-quality ideas and faster, more accessible A/B testing abilities, which improves the team morale and furthers the company’s goals.

2. Give the team a template for presenting their ideas.

Another excellent strategy for helping your team members deliver ideas that are relevant and useful is to give them a specific format for presenting suggestions. 

One of the best ways to do this is to ask employees to present proposals as answers to these questions: 

– What is the problem? This helps you see the matter through your employee’s lens and ensures you’re both on the same page about the problem being solved. Asking and answering this question can help them organize their thoughts, and it clearly shows everyone else the essence of the idea.

– Which metric (or metrics) will change in the end? This question is ideal for giving ideas the laser focus they need to be usable. Answering this question forces each person to think about every idea as a step toward a concrete goal, e.g., “by the end of the proposed campaign, email clickthrough rates will increase by 3%.”

In fact, you can encourage your team to think about the answer to this question first and work their way backward. For example, by starting with the goal of improving clickthrough metrics by 3%, they can then think back through the steps that are most likely to get to that goal. In this way, the overall quality of everyone’s ideas improves, making it much easier for the team to give feedback. 

3. Use the ICE method of evaluating ideas.

Using ICE (Impact, Confidence, Ease) as your standard metric for idea evaluation gives everyone a universal way to format their feedback and constructive criticism. In many cases, selecting a group of employees is often useful in evaluating all collected ideas according to the ICE criteria. 

It simplifies the evaluation process by selecting just a few employees (and they can be different each time to promote fairness). You can more easily prioritize ideas and avoid the chaos that often occurs when everyone is trying to give their evaluation of every single thought. 

It’s easy to foster employee initiative while still furthering your brand goals 

The best way to keep employees excited to come to work is by showing that their ideas and initiative are valued. As a leader, it is your job to help your team grow and produce high-quality ideas. This not only elevates them as workers and people, but it also means your company will have access to better, more innovative solutions that will help you reach your goals faster.

About the author

Artem Semjanow

Artem Semjanow is the founder and CEO of, the world’s first app that detects orthopedic and podiatry health issues, utilizing AI & AR, with only an iPhone camera. He previously served as the CEO and Chief R&D/ML of Prisma Labs, a photo editing app with more than 130 million users worldwide. Under his leadership, the company’s annual recurring revenue grew from $0 to $1.5 million with a zero marketing budget.

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