Pilot Testing in Innovation & Continuous Process Improvement

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  • 0:04 Pilot Test
  • 1:12 Pilot Test Planning
  • 2:11 Pilot Test Implementation
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joseph Madison

Joseph received his Doctorate from UMUC in Management. He retired from the Army after 23 years of service, working in intelligence, behavioral health, and entertainment.

This lesson defines pilot testing and explains why and how it is used. It also discusses what it can show about developing and implementing innovation and continuous process improvement.

Pilot Test

Megan, the CEO of Softshoes, Inc., decided to align her business with agility principles in order to eliminate all unnecessary actions and instead focus on her customers. She spoke with her workforce and executed the change throughout the organization. However, after a few weeks, productivity is down, communication with clients is stalled, and workforce morale is terrible. Once she assesses the issues, she realizes that the agility principles don't work in her business due to how she has departmentalized. She will have to reorganize her people into smaller teams that integrate skilled employees from every department.

In Megan's scenario, an initial pilot test would have been helpful. A pilot test, or pilot project, is a scaled down version of a change that a business wishes to establish. These pilot tests allow you to assess potential obstacles or needs before you integrate the change organization-wide. Pilot tests focus either on a department or a small team, and they usually span a specific period of time, say four to six weeks. Once the pilot is finished, you can compare the results to your normal day-to-day business operations and see if you think the change was successful.

Pilot Testing Planning

For a pilot test, you want to make sure to organize, plan, and review before you implement it. Here are some steps to follow:

Choose a group or department

First, you want to determine which department or team should be involved in your pilot project. They could be volunteers or a specific group that best represents your business.

Scale down the change

If you're looking to pilot test a switch to agility, you will have to scale down the change to fit the team that will test its efficacy.


Talk to the people who will be involved and get them on board. Everyone in the project must be invested in its success, otherwise it may fail.

Determine a timeline

Make sure to lay out a specific timeline: beginning date, deadlines for deliverables, and the end date. This provides your test group with a good framework. The timeline should represent how your how business will be required to act if the change is implemented site-wide.

Once you have the planning phase finished, you can start the implementation.

Pilot Test Implementation

Once you start your pilot test you will need to continually watch its progress in order to address any issues that arise. These steps will help you during implementation.

Hold weekly meetings

Keep a constant flow of communication; this will help you assess the validity of the change. It will also enable you to check on morale and head off any potential conflict.

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