At Leadfully, we believe everyone has Superpowers: innate talents or abilities that are part of who you are. Knowing your superpower (and recognizing others’) can help you become a better leader.
But what is it actually like to work with these superpowers? In this series, we ask real people to share their experiences and shed some light on what inspires them, what frustrates them, and how their superpowers have helped them show up for their teams.
Don’t we all wish we could be better at prototyping smart solutions? People with the superpower of Experimentation excel at this and love to rapidly generate, test, and refine ideas.
This week, Leadfully product manager Johnson Tang tells us how his superpower helped his company cut down on its M&M’S budget.
So your superpower is Experimentation. Has that always been the case, or did it evolve over time?
I’ve always been a curious individual, but my superpower evolved over time as I learned how to approach problems in a more systematic way, understand biases and assumptions, and see the value of good storytelling.
How does Experimentation show up in your daily life?
In the age of consumerism and information, it’s easy to get distracted or have your opinions swayed. In these moments, I like to remove the noise. For example, I love doing blind taste tests because food is both personal and subjective. Recently I found that McDonald’s brewed coffee rivals other brands that cost a lot more. While it’s not the best cup on the market, take into account the cost, convenience, and other factors like sustainable sourcing, and it’s a worthy choice in certain situations. I stay away from their espresso drinks, though.
How about the rest of your team — do any of your teammates share the same superpower as you, or are you a rare case?
I am the only one. I’ve found similar patterns in those with the Provocation superpower. I think we like to challenge things for different reasons. I’ve also found those with Vision as their superpower balance me out since running experiments can get myopic, and it’s critical to understand where the tests should take us in the long run.
Tell us a story about when you’ve used your superpower for good. Maybe you helped your team get unstuck or solve a crisis, or maybe you’ve been putting Experimentation to work from behind the scenes.
The snack bar here is amazing, and we have a good balance of healthy and guilty delights. One of the most visually appealing items is the M&M’S jar because of the bright colors. I noticed it was sitting on a shelf close to eye level, and I wanted to find out whether making it slightly less convenient and putting it on the bottom shelf would reduce consumption. My bigger goal was a desire to reduce processed sugar intake for the office before the summer months.
So I partnered with our facilities team to run this covert experiment over the course of a month. The data showed that we cut our spending on M&M’S by more than 30 percent when the jar was at knee level instead of near eye level.
Does Experimentation come with any challenges or weaknesses? What do you do to combat these?
Yes, all superpowers have shadow sides. My weakness shows up as impatience towards spending time talking about the problem instead of executing on possible solutions. I’ve learned that if I don’t allow the time to hear different viewpoints, I could miss the opportunity to design a more informed experiment.
What do you wish people understood better about your superpower?
I wish others understood that when I ask “How do you know…” or “Why do you think…”, it comes from a place of curiosity, not challenge.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.