Design Thinking: Part II – Prototyping Perfection

Blog Post Innovation that Creates New Value

In our previous discussion, it was revealed that, yes; you too are a designer — regardless of your job title or function. That said, one of the biggest mistakes designers make is something we witness all too often during our innovation consulting: We design with the intent of immediate success.

Iteration, Iteration, Iteration

In design thinking, repetition is critical. Iteration provides designers with an opportunity to prototype an idea in a rudimentary way that represents a concept in its earliest design state.

And by most initial, I mean iterating prototypes from the get-go. Why?

  1. Your prototype is only intended to convey an idea — not be the idea
  2. Your prototype is designed to garner feedback for improvement and refinement

Therefore, the more rudimentary the prototype you provide, the more opportunities there are to collect insightful, impactful feedback.

Show, Don’t Tell

Testing ideas en mass and refining prototype concepts circumvents one of the biggest problems designers face: They get too attached to their design. As designers — and human beings — we tend to champion and defend that which we create.

We advise designers to hand their prototype to someone else — without explanation or context — and then to begin asking questions.

Often, the feedback solicited may not necessarily be something a designer was looking for, but that’s the beauty of it. Early feedback provides insight into an approach that often had not yet been identified. In design thinking, we want people to repeat this process multiple times.

Prototype Early. Prototype Often.

When people do not prototype, especially early in the design process, a common and unfortunate result is getting too far invested — particularly financially — to go unwind things. This means you risk getting stuck with an idea or solution that is ineffective or not as potent as could be. As design thinkers, we should be prototyping — iteratively — over and again.

By prototyping and testing iterations often, we can make the potency and power of our designs incredibly centered on the user’s experience, which is at the heart of successful creation. But how do we gauge real success? We’ll discuss this in our next post: Design Thinking: Part III – Creators Are Not Referees.