MIT Sloan Action Learning

Experimental Innovation Lab

Evidence-based decision making is hard. Managers want to learn how to achieve their goals by mobilizing their resources and capabilities, but doing this requires evaluating the outcomes of their projects and initiatives, and knowing how to interpret them. The gold standard for building such knowledge is randomized experiments. From science to medical trials, this is the tool that is used when practitioners really want to know what causes something.

In recent years, businesses have started to harness this powerful tool to help them achieve key business goals. Amazon, E-Bay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and many others, are embracing randomized experiments to get the best evidence base for their decisions. And while their experiments started primarily in the digital realm, they are increasingly finding their way into the most important decisions that these firms make.

Experimental Innovation Lab (X-Lab) will demonstrate why experiments – if performed well – can be such an important enhancer of business decision making. It will also introduce students to the skills they need to run experiments, and to interpret the results from the experiments of others.

The class will be primarily a hands-on, action learning experience. Students will work with host firms and non-profit organizations to design, run, and interpret the results from randomized trials. They will be guided in this both by foundational knowledge provided at the beginning of the course and mentors assigned to each of the project teams.

This course will run for the full semester. The first weeks will consist of lectures and class discussions to cover the essentials behind running experiments in the field. After laying the foundation, the class will form teams to run a real time field experiment in cooperation with host firms. In this project phase, we will meet up every week to discuss progress on the projects. The professors and the TA will be on hand to trouble shoot and provide guidance for the project presentations in the final week of the term.

For further information about the course, please go to

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