Piloting Without a Plane

By: Lucy Frisch

You might have heard the term pilot used before in one of our many initiatives here at Springer Nature. For example, SharedIt began as a pilot with our Nature portfolio of journals.

Pilots by definition are simply a test. Many times you probably won’t even know a pilot is taking place. An e-mail you receive or a new service you find through your MySpringer profile may seem like a regular addition, but you may just be one of the lucky ones included into a pilot project.

We pilot because we are always looking for new ways to take our services to the next level. We want to ensure that we are always offering you, the researcher, the most innovative and streamlined tools for communication and collaboration.

The four mains reasons we pilot before launching a new idea at full scale:

1- Things can get messy

Our next big idea may sound great on paper, but when we put it into action there may be bumps in the road that we could never have anticipated. We work closely with numerous teams throughout Springer Nature to help troubleshoot problems in advance so that we can avoid hold-ups once initiatives are fully launched. It’s important to understand the workload from everyone’s vantage point in the process.

2- Scalability is key

One of the most important elements to any pilot is keeping the sample size small.  We want to make sure the initiative is useful and working. If we open a pilot to, for instance, 100 authors as opposed to all of our authors, it’s not only more manageable to handle hiccups that may arise, but easier to measure the results. We can always grow the scope of our pilots once we’ve pointed to a series of small-scale successes.

3- Messaging is important

When we roll out a new pilot, it’s important that all the stakeholders involved agree on and finalize the messaging of the program early on. Once the pilot is in place we can judge how the messaging is received. Is everyone able to understand it? Is it clear enough? Is there anything that was missed? Once we know the answers to these questions we can tweak the messaging accordingly for a larger roll-out.

4- Sometimes you have to pull the plug

As much as we would love for every idea to turn into a success, if a pilot is taking a nose dive it might be necessary to call it quits. This may mean taking a new approach or scraping it all together. We are always mindful that new initiatives should never interfere with the sales or usage of your book or journal article. We also never want to waste time or money on a project that isn’t a useful addition. There are always more ideas waiting in the wings.

Do you have an idea that you would love to see as an author service or resource? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear.

Featured Image: airBaltic Bombardier CS300 launch event by Kārlis Dambrāns. CC 2.0 via Flickr.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.