Experiments, or experimental development, are a new way of developing services and policy measures. What they have in common is that the service under development finds its final form during the experimentation process.

The experiments should not be seen simply as the trailing out of an already-prepared so-lution (piloting). Instead, they are first and foremost a development process during which the service develops towards its final form.

Attempts are made to obtain the service users’ active participation in the process’s different stages right from the very beginning. They can just as much be involved in brainstorming service concepts as in assessing and testing their functionality. Testing and user feedback are key elements for development.

The service is changed and moulded through testing and assessment during the whole experimentation process. In this way, it is possible to avoid situations where an idea or service has been developed too far without interaction with the end users, and only once the service is nearly ready is it understood that the service does not meet the users’ needs.

Key features of experimentation:

  1. Getting off to a quick start: the service concept is not pondered over long, but rather efforts are made to make it testable for the target group as quickly as possible.
  2. Learning through iterations: by testing and adapting the service repeatedly, learning takes place regarding the service’s functionality and changes can be made again and again until the desired final product is obtained.
  3. Communal process: the service end users are included in the different stages of the de-velopment and their skills and knowledge are utilised throughout the whole process.
  4. Assessment: functionality testing among the target group guides the development of the service or product. 

Experiments, or experimental development, are a systematic method for developing ser-vices or products which can take multiple different forms. Different forms of experimentation include random tests, empirical testing and prototyping.

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Mikko Martikainen