Valve Software on evidence-driven business

Valve Software is a video game company with an unusual “flat” organizational structure in which there are no managers. I recently read their handbook for new employees looking for ideas about running a lab where the PI is an advisor but not a “boss” that tells people what to do. I came across this passage:

Screwing up is a great way to find out that your assumptions were wrong or that your model of the world was a little bit off. As long as you update your model and move forward with a better picture, you’re doing it right. Look for ways to test your beliefs. Never be afraid to run an experiment or to collect more data.

It helps to make predictions and anticipate nasty outcomes. Ask yourself “what would I expect to see if I’m right?” Ask yourself “what would I expect to see if I’m wrong?” Then ask yourself “what do I see?” If something totally unexpected happens, try to figure out why.

There are still some bad ways to fail. Repeating the same mistake over and over is one. Not listening to customers or peers before or after a failure is another. Never ignore the evidence; particularly when it says you’re wrong.

It’s nice, and interesting, to see the scientific “mindset” being adopted in the world of business.