BetaGov Blog

Learning Corner: How to Learn Iteratively

Posted on June 11, 2019     By Angela Hawken

Human heads made of mechanical gears

Iterative learning is our favorite sort of evidence-based decisionmaking. You start with an idea and you test it. What you learn from that test informs what comes next. Then you test that. And so on.

If...your great idea turns out to be less of a good one than you had hoped or has unintended negative consequences that you never anticipated, now might be a good time to kill it. Don't think that you are alone. Not-so-great ideas (programs, policies, and processes) are all around us. The difference is that you care enough and are responsible enough to test yours.

If...your idea shows promise, this is just the beginning. A horse and cart helped move our forefathers from place A to place B. Aren't you glad they didn't post that to an EBP repository and call themselves done? Aren't you grateful for iterations that led to internal-combustion engines, anti-lock brakes, and seat warmers? It seems obvious that we should be continually working towards improvements. At BetaGov we view iterative learning as getting better and better both in our innovations and in how we learn about what works by improving how you record knowledge and study effectiveness.

Check out this short video about lean manufacturing (the lessons apply as well to other fields) on how to create a continual-improvement culture.

Keep iterating (and tell us what you learn…)!