We live in the Knowledge Economy where knowledge is the hard currency. And, like with any other hard currency, quantity is only upstaged by how you use it. One single insight into customers’ needs makes all the difference. This insight comes not from endless resrearch and asking customers questions about their intentions or preferences (Henry Ford), but from observing how your solution solves their problem better. This can only be done by giving form to the idea and putting it into the hands of real users and learning from their experience using your solution: product, service or business model.

This article is about how fast prototyping helps achieve three key business results: faster, cheaper, repeatable performance.

There is one danger though: you already know about Rapid Prototyping. If you have been involved in any creative activities such as product development, advertising or marketing campaigns, or graphic design – you have done it many times. So, here is the danger: you think that you will not learn anything new here. And you will be right, and that’s the danger. But, if not…

Let’s start with the results.

Machine Head, the sixth studio album by the English rock band Deep Purple, was recorded through December 1971 in Montreux, Switzerland, in record three weeks. It is Deep Purple’s most successful recording. The album reached #1 in the United Kingdom, where it stayed for 20 weeks in the top-40, and #7 in the United States, remaining on the Billboard 200 for 118 weeks.

What was outstanding about it was how it was made. It was a classic example of fast prototyping, despite the many setbacks associated with the project. In fact, one of the setbacks, the burning down of the Montreux Cassino, the planned recording venue, gave birth to the band’s most famous songs of all times, ‘Smoke on the Water’. In our previous article we have provided thoughts from two band members on the lessons from the process.

The term Fast Prototyping is all about minimising the risk by giving an idea shape and form that allows the end-users to try it and you to see if that’s the right direction. If it captures users’ imagination, you have the clear path to not only getting it to market fast, but also, if you pay enough attention to the process, repeat the process over and over.

Fast Prototyping is an essential part of innovation. And the term ‘Fast’ has nothing to do with jumping into the unknown. It encompasses and reflects all your and your team’s knowledge, experience, all the life’s lessons that sit readily under the surface and become that ‘gut feeling’ or as Malcolm Gladwell generously documents it in his 2005 bestseller, ‘Blink – Thinking without Thinking’. Ian Gillan, lead singer of Deep Purple explains the concept like this:

“All the practice, all the other gigs, everything you’ve ever done, comes down to today. This is as good as I get in this moment. Tomorrow is another matter. We’ll get up again and practice and try to get a little better … but this music is about the point of truth today.”

When you create that prototype, it encapsulates your experience to date. You cannot improve it further without the next experience, and that is the feedback of the user. User experience is your next step in gaining valuable knowledge to give the market what it truly wants and desires. Any further attempts to improve it are only unnecessary investment. Let it fly!

Fast Prototyping Culture at Deloitte:

If learning from hairy, unconventionally dressed guys, keeping unhealthy hours and lifestyles, is not credible enough for you, here is a lesson from Deloitte. In this 20 minute presentation Peter Williams, CEO Deloitte Digital shares the principles and processes the firm has been applying so successfully, it has created ‘an ideas factory from a firm of accountants’.

Don’t miss our next RIOT to hear insights on ‘wicked problems’ and get your weekly innovation habit with: ‘visualising innovation, open innovation and more tools to keep you and your team on top of things.


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