Rapid prototyping within Innovation

Rapid Protoyping session in progress

As we grow up we are all taught to create a finished piece of work which we then hand over for marking. This continues through school, higher education and into our work places.

This is not, however, the optimal way of working.

The theory behind Rapid Prototyping in Innovation is to create the simplest, cheapest model that demonstrates your idea. This is then shared with a group of people who are able to provide feedback which is then incorporated into the next iteration.

By sharing early and often the product created is more likely to meet the needs of the users and better solve the problem you were addressing.

Through co-creation via iterations we ensure that if the product or idea is going to fail we identify this early before large amounts of money and resources are wasted. Perhaps more importantly it allows us to quickly understand and address the reasons that the product would fail and these can be avoided in any future products.

To allow people to experience the benefits of iterative design firsthand Deloitte Australia developed the Serious Gaming Workshop. In the workshop teams are given 15 minutes to design a board game from a collection of children’s toys; dice, cards, play doh, tokens, sticks etc.

After the 15 minutes the games are played by other members of the workshop who provide feedback to the designers and steal any elements that could be incorporated into their own game. The teams then have a further ten minutes to refine their games before they are play tested again. The final rounds see the teams developing a sales pitch for their games; they are each given one minute to “sell” their game design to the rest of the attendees and a winner is chosen.

The workshop relies on high energy, fast iterations and tight time constraints to ensure that the attendees have never finished their products before they are required to share them. The deadlines focus the mind on the task and the repeated collection of feedback ensures that the games quickly progress in their designs.

The use of board games and familiar pieces allows the attendees a degree of comfort as these are items they have been aware of all their lives. The creation of a game itself allows for a very simple testing mechanism to show if the design is working; is it fun to play?

The elements of the workshop combine to teach some valuable lessons which can be taken into any innovation project:
•  share early and often
•  borrow with pride and steal shamelessly
•  impose strict time constraints
•  the power of iterations
•  the need to be able to explain your product quickly

These elements can be used as the basis of any new product or service design to ensure that you are getting the best outcome quickly.

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