Archive for March, 2009

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Prototype this!

March 10, 2009

Here comes the fun part…

From as early as our elementary years, we are taught how to be smart by thinking through our problems and then be graded for our final projects or that one-time final exam.

What a boring and inefficient method of learning.

Prototyping brings a much more vivid and interactive method of learning from our “thinking”. If we are adept in using whatever available materials to quickly build a model for the issue we’re working on, we get to learn from the simulation of the experience using the prototype immediately rather than wait for the final product to arrive.

Why is this useful? According to IDEO, the design consultancy company, prototyping is useful for revealing unanticipated issues or needs, as well as evaluating ideas.

How else would you move from technical competence to true innovation? By experimenting ofcourse! When you get into the habit of prototyping new ideas continuously, you learn by the process of trial and error. And just like kids in the playground, you need to have a curious attitude and an open mind to notice the things you are expecting, and not expecting.

It shouldn’t be a big task on your to-do list either. Prototyping can be anything: a drawing, a model, a picture or a film you snap in a minute. If it’s a service you’re focused on, a simple role playing or scenario writing can be used. You build it very quickly, roughly, and without any worries of being elegant or presentable. The goal is not to present it to your board at the end of the day as a draft of a product (for an example), it is to get instant feedback that will help solve problems with the product or the process. In a sense, it helps you think. Get as many versions as your aspects that needs highlighting.

Here’s a snap shop from IDEO’s Toolkit for Human Centered Design that was put together to enhance the lives of smallholder farmers around the world.

prototype example

Try it! Take delight in how fast you take a concept from words to sketch, to model, to a successful new offering. The fun is in the process!

Randah