Learn about how to prototype fast to get to a solution.
- Step three of the innovator's method is to now try and develop some solution options that might nail that customer problem and so it really starts with prototyping and there are four different types of prototypes that you can use to try and see whether or not your solution is likely to nail that problem. I'm going to give you an example. Turbo Tax was trying to see whether or not they could solve a customer problem which was related to simple filers wanting to have their taxes done, but in particular, they wanted to have the information from the W-2 form, those numbers, put onto the tax form for them.
Because that was really stressful and they didn't really know where it would go. So now Turbo Tax is thinking about how do we come up with the solution to that problem? The first theoretical prototype is basically your idea about how that might work. Well maybe we could come up with a way to take a picture of that W-2 form and take those numbers and put em onto the tax form and they tried a number of different ways of theoretical prototypes but that's the one they like the best is let's just take a photo and have it be put on the tax form.
And so that was the theoretical prototype that they then move next to the virtual prototype phase. Virtual prototype is this is not an actual working version of the product but it's kind of a mock-up. Through pictures, through the storyboard it's like here's how it would work and they had customers sort of walk through the storyboard. What if you had to take a picture with the camera? You would then upload it on your computer or you'd put it onto the software. As they went through that process with the virtual prototype, customers said we hate this, it takes too long, it's too cumbersome.
Someone said could you create a virtual prototype where I could actually just take a picture of the W-2 with my phone and have it immediately go into the software and I could just do it on my phone? Great idea, let's do a new virtual prototype. They walked through that with a number of customers and they realized the customers really liked being able to do it on their phone. So now they move to the next phase which was a working product, what they call a minimum viable product or prototype.
A basic working version of the product. What they learned when they did it is that if customers couldn't get the picture to get them immediately the data they needed, they quit using it. They wanted to have that data immediately show that their taxes were getting done and so now they had to change that minimum viable product so that it very quickly showed the customer you're making progress and here's how far you are to being done and once they put that information on, people love it 'cause they could see I'm now 50% done, 75% done, 100% done, and this then lead to a product that was viewed as awesome and awesome is something that you can take with you literally, as one customer told us.
Took it with him on a date, did his taxes in the bathroom on a date. Right before the tax deadline in 10 minutes or less. So they came up with a product that they labeled Snap Tax. They said snap it, tap it, and you're done. Start to finish tax prep in 10 minutes or less. THat's the process of prototyping that can get you to an awesome solution. There's an important principal to remember when prototyping and that is, it doesn't have to be perfect.
In fact, you want to try and do it in a day. When Google did their first prototype of Google class, Tom Chi, who was leading the team said we did our prototype, our first one, in less than 24 hours and it gave people a basic understanding of how they would interact with a set of glasses, Google Glass, and how they might use commands to tell the glasses what to do. So what you want to do is think about how can we create a sketch, a photo realistic rendering, a mock-up, a 3D print of a product design, but something that you can do quickly because what you want is you want to get that solution in the hands and in the eyes of the potential customer.
So that they can interact with it because that visualization of the solution allows them to give you useful feedback so that you can improve it so that you can figure out what will work for them and so just remember your prototype isn't suppose to be perfect, but it is suppose to give the potential customer a real sense of what that solution might entail.