Innovations often don’t deliver the returns we hope for. Sometimes they fail spectacularly.

Take J.C. Penney’s much-heralded 2012 makeover. Soon after star Apple executive Ron Johnson became the chain’s CEO, he implemented a visionary plan to eliminate coupons, clearance racks, and checkout counters and to fill stores with branded boutiques.

Seventeen months after Johnson was hired, sales had plunged, losses had soared, the stock had tanked, and Johnson was out.

How could J.C. Penney have gone so wrong? Didn’t it have mountains of data on customer preferences?

Presumably, it did. The problem is, in situations like J.C. Penney’s, such data only reveals customers’ past behavior. It can’t predict how people will react to something that doesn’t yet exist. So executives rely on experience and intuition. But by definition, ideas that are truly innovative tend to go against the grain of executive experience.

There is a more reliable way to evaluate new initiatives: Conduct rigorous experiments.

Most tests of consumer programs don’t use disciplined methods, so executives end up misinterpreting results and making poor decisions.

We teach you how to conduct rigorous business experiments that produce reliable information that guides your strategic decision-making.