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Prototyping effectively

From: Pitching Projects and Products to Executives

Video: Prototyping effectively

(Music playing.) Dane Howard: The most valuable asset of innovation is the interplay between individuals and the expression of their ideas. Michael Schrage wrote this in his book, "Serious Play". It's about effective prototypes. They give you a tangible dialog that's needed to move the next business decision forward. By choosing the right fidelity of the prototype, you have help guide a decision to answer the most important questions executives are looking for. Charles Warren: Rehearse. It's really helpful.

Prototyping effectively

(Music playing.) Dane Howard: The most valuable asset of innovation is the interplay between individuals and the expression of their ideas. Michael Schrage wrote this in his book, "Serious Play". It's about effective prototypes. They give you a tangible dialog that's needed to move the next business decision forward. By choosing the right fidelity of the prototype, you have help guide a decision to answer the most important questions executives are looking for. Charles Warren: Rehearse. It's really helpful.

I think it's a very good thing to not have your first pitch be the crucial one. Prototype your prototype kind of thing. Rob Girling: Working an idea, the golden rule of prototyping was prototype to answer questions. What's the question you are trying to answer? The fidelity is directly related to, what is it you're trying to find out? Ryan Tandy: I think prototyping as philosophy is super important. You need to know what something feels like.

If you don't have the feel of an actual product, you won't really know what you are making. Guthrie Dolin: Failing quickly with limited resources and quickly adjusting and iterating is actually success. So sometimes we call them sacrificial ideas. They are ideas to test the boundaries or edges of something. So we may have one hypothesis, but we actually need to put something else forward to help prove that other hypothesis, or that original hypothesis.

So a prototype can be actually built to fail, so that you can learn how to create something successful. Michael Gough: So I have a very strong belief that the higher fidelity, the better off you are. Let's say you are going to make a million of them, and you are going to make the first one. You might want to call that prototyping. But what I want to do, or I want to push for, is as high a resolution and as high as--a prototype that is impacted by as many things as possible, the things that are going to--the final objects are going to be impacted by.

So if you are doing high-fidelity prototyping, the fidelity includes things like the structure of the materials, what can actually be made, the manufacturing process, everything. The closer you can get to actually making the thing, the closer you are to really apprehending all of the challenges. So the best work happens when there is no distinction between design and making. Tim Barber: If you are going to ever convince anyone to spend a lot of money on an idea, especially the later stages of an idea when it's going from the early stage of concepts and you are about to pull the trigger on actual development where a much greater volume of resources is going to be applied to the idea, in that situation a prototype is a given.

Albert Tan: I think a lot of people think they get it. They say, "Oh, yeah, I understand. I understand." But put in an object in front of them that really communicates, and is tangible, that they can get--it suddenly becomes very real. Ryan: Back when we were doing Musikfest work, we wanted to build an elaborate video wall or some kind of walkthrough experience. We just basically had to write it, write it out, and just get people up to speed on trying to imagine what it's going to feel like.

It was one of the funny times when I feel like words actually did a really good job of always getting somebody in the ballpark for what an experience is going to be like. You don't have to have it figured out how or what, but you just need to talk about what it's going to feel like. That was really important in this context. Guthrie: Some people love high-fidelity, full-interaction, looks-and-functions-like- the-real-thing-type prototypes.

Some people are fans of quick sketches, paper prototypes. They all have their role, and they are all important. I think the key thing is understanding what you are trying to learn from the prototype, the audience that you are putting in front of. Charles: Put a pen, or give the person you are pitching some way of marking up whatever it is, so that you are showing them it's not precious, and this isn't the thing that's going to make her break your career--I think is incredibly important, because you are not going to get honest feedback if you are stressed out and sending signals that here is my big opportunity and if I don't make it today, I am going to be really depressed. You don't want that.

Guthrie: I think though the role of the prototype is really to get as a real as you can as quickly as you can. You have time and resources, and you have fidelity and resolution. So you're always playing with those things. A prototype may be dictated by money, it may be dictated by time, or may it be dictated by other limitations. So I think it's important to strike the right balance, but I think you are trying to get as real, as clear, as concise with the idea within the constraints that you have.

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