BottomUp - Skills for Innovators

Rapid prototyping is a powerful tool to test and validate an idea. Learn how to prototype and validate your product.

Show Notes

Hello, and welcome to the bottom up skills podcast I might pass since I'm the chief executive officer at quality assurance, and we continue this wonderful adventure into the world of design thinking. And today it's all about rapid. Prototyping and boy, am I like the number one fan of rapid prototyping?

And I'm so glad to have this moment to share with you. What is for me, one of the most powerful things I've ever learned in my career, and I'll tell you why it was so powerful when I discovered it. And first of all, shout out to mr. Tom Chi, who. Really just blew my mind. Uh, some 10 years ago when he induced, introduced me to rapid prototyping and the work that he'd been doing at Google X, it was like a light bulb moment because rapid prototyping is the thing you can do before you build your product or service too.

Work out what exactly. Your users, like what they hate and to understand far far better, what really should be in the first release of your product. But I think it goes a bit further than that. I think what rapid prototyping really does is it shifts us from guessing what should be in our product to knowing you might not know completely and wholly, you know, let's be honest, you don't really know until the product's live.

But what rapid prototyping does is radically shift, uh, your understanding of what should be in your product, through testing and learning with customers. So let's talk a little bit about what rapid prototyping really use. It's a very powerful way to test and validate, and it's very important. Because it will help you understand, have you created enough value in your product?

Are you solving a big enough problem from the user's perspective? And you'll hear this so much in a design thinking and in terms of my experience with design thinking, I cannot emphasize enough. An obsession and like a complete focus upon the user and their well, because it's so easy as creators builders and entrepreneurs to guess what might be a cool product or feature, but that's so often ends in failure.

It's all about testing, learning and validating and rapid prototyping is the thing. So let's take a moment. To actually define what it is. Let's make sure we are all on the same page about rapid prototyping. So what it is is it's this idea of creating a light version of your product or service. Um, and it can be, I mean, you could sketch it on a whiteboard.

You could draw it up on paper or. If you're a bit more later stage, you can actually get out some tools such as Adobe XD or an envision to actually build a clickable version of your prototype. Right now what's essential here is that. Whatever you choose as the form of your prototype. You want to move to a material form that is very light quick and easy because speed is of the essence when you're prototyping, hence rapid prototyping.

The bar that you're looking for is to choose. A form of prototyping and material, um, that is sufficient in generating what we call sensory stimulus. Because if you generate the senses, if you create an approximation of your idea and you can actually trigger a sensory response, you will get. True feedback from your user.

So rather than an a focus group, we say, Hey, would you guys like, does this idea sound cool? If you're just asking the question, you're only taking a very early stage kind of measure or response of what people want. If you move them. Into direct experience where they touch, feel, smell, hear what this product might be.

You shift them from guessing how they would like this product to actually giving you a more visceral response. And that I can tell you is magic. Now rapid prototyping comes in a couple of different forms. I've tried to break it down into three major types of rapid prototyping. Um, that's very applicable to creating brand new first-generation products.

The first thing you could do is you can do what I call a diagnostic prototype. Um, and you know, that could be something like card sorting. Um, you know, you could even, uh, you know, do some shadowing of the customers. They try and get a job done. That that can be very helpful. If you've got a complex, a product or service, or you feel like all of them, the surveys and interviews you did still haven't given you enough, go for more of a diagnostic prototype.

The next thing you could do is you could create yeah. Um, a moment or a little journey. Um, and do you. Mike just choose maybe onboard, uh, our, into you experience. You might try the moment of truth, like the key moment in your given product or service, or you might try customer service support. You might just choose a little moment and try and sketch it and build it.

To see if this would be a viable and feasible solution. Now, lastly, the third type. So the first two diagnostic, uh, type of prototype, uh, then you've got like a moment or journey prototype the third, the one. And you, you would probably do these in order. The third one is where you get out your Adobe XD, your envision.

And you will actually start moving pixels around and creating something that's clickable, but also starts to really take shape and feel like the end product. So these are the sort of three ways you could bucket your activities, uh, organize your activities in, in rapid prototyping, diagnostic moments in digital experiences.

Now, at this point, I do want to let you know that we have a full. Dedicated masterclass to rapid prototyping. It's that important and just pop over to bottom It's all free. Grab the masterclass and the slice. Cause we go into way more detail than this. I'm just giving you a primer just to lay the seed, if you will.

Okay. Back to rapid prototyping. So, you know, I've given you a kind of a frame of what it is and some of the dimensions of it. Now I want to move into how you might do it. And there's a kind of four very essential ideas that will make your prototyping successful. First of all, we talked about this before, create the direct experience, create a prototype that stimulates a sensory experience.

So if you've got a product for college students, That they would use in the dorm either test in their dorm or create an environment, uh, like their dome so that you can create the direct visceral sensory experience. This will help you so much. Okay. Number two. Validate the prototype by asking questions of the user.

Okay. And what, so you actually have asked a few questions then what you can do with the next round of users, you test with, give them a task and see if they are able to complete the task. This is the essential mechanic to measure what you've achieved in the testing and what you've learned now. You've created the direct experience you're giving the users task so they can test so you can test and learn about their task completion to more fundamental funding, really important guys, two more things.

Number one, compound effects. When you do these things. Yes. In rapid prototyping, try and do as many tests as possible over the shortest period of time. I love to do two days, so you can just. Plow through maybe eight to 10 sprints, hundreds of tests, you will be blown away by the level of empathy, understanding knowledge, and frankly, you will be blown away by the confidence that you can now have in your product.

Once you've seen that many tests with users, and frankly, just a quick aside here, I made a ton of people who always say, Hey, Mike, I'm working on this new thing. I want your help. I want your advice. And the first thing I will always ask, how many times have you tested this with your audience? And invariably, if they're stuck, they've done insufficient amount of user tests.

They've done insufficient, rapid prototyping. Okay. So quick recap. Four key things to meet rapid prototyping it's success. Number one, create the direct experience. Then put to test and learn. Number three, make sure you get these compound effects by testing as much as possible over a shorter period of time.

What's the fourth. One of the most powerful things I discovered is you can prototype a product and you can prototype your marketing. And this one is a lot. To do with marketing, get users who have tested your product to actually advocate, share pitch product to new users who have yet to use it, because then you can witness advocacy, like in a little Petri dish, you can really test it and see how they talk about your product.

They perceive as the benefit and what they draw analogies and comparisons to. So there you go. That is the fourth of the key things you need to do in order to make rapid prototyping a success. Now. What's really important about this is that you create this shift that I talked about earlier. Don't want to guess, because, you know, if you think about at this stage, what is going to come next, um, what is going to be your next big step, where you're going to have to decide what the primary feature of your product is going to be?

Where are you going to put all your effort and attention, and you don't want to guess the essence of your product or service and this rapid prototyping will lead you to that conviction. And if you remember from the previous episode, you talked about the design challenges. Those are the missions that you have to do use rapid prototyping for.

So it is really, really important that you act this stage have really swung the pendulum from all that early stage optimism of wouldn't it be cool to create this new thing. Now we get into the business end of affairs. We actually know. What users really want. And therefore, in the next episode, the podcast, we're going to talk about how to pick the primary feature, but the prototyping done at this early stage will shift you in tonight.

And I can tell you, I have done this on such a crazy variety of products and on the marketing to launch those products. So just to give you an idea of. Why I am such a fan of rapid prototyping. Why I believe in its power is because it takes out the unknown and the uncertainty that prior to discovering rapid prototyping, I was always.

Like we launch a big product and I'd be like, jeez, I think it will be good, but I don't know. And that's what rapid prototyping does. It fills in that confidence gap, that conviction gap. So I've been very fortunate and I really want to show you how versatile rapid prototyping is. I've built virtual reality products for Ikea.

I built new fashion lines for Levi's I've even worked on a lung cancer detection system for general electric. The point that I'm making here is this can work on anything. And every day I'm using this on Shima products, banking products. You name it, the versatility of rapid prototype. I truly believe anything can be prototyped for Proctor and gamble.

I even prototyped an algorithm if you could believe it. That's how powerful this practice of prototyping is. So if you're really excited about that, you can go and see how it works in the overall design thinking process in our And why you're there. If. Rapid prototyping sounds good to you.

We even have him a master masterclass, a dedicated series, a to rapid prototyping. So go and check that out. All right. That is the world of rapid prototyping in the show's amount of time possible. I hope you believe this show knowing a bit more about how to prototype and validate your product. And I truly invite you to discover the power of rapid prototyping.

What is BottomUp - Skills for Innovators?

The volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world we now live in makes it impossible to innovate from the top down. We must now take an empathic, experimental, and emergent approach to innovate from the BottomUp.

Mike Parsons breaks down all the components of what it takes to discover, build, test, and launch radical new products, services, and cultures. You'll get in-depth instruction on the most effective methodologies, interviews with experts, and case studies. All in under 15 minutes.