We often flirt with questions such as “what would it be like to have a new job/create a new product/start a new business?

A prototype allows you to date an idea for a while before you commit to marrying it.

A prototype allows you to test the validity of a product or an idea. The good news is that there’s no such thing as a prototype that fails. It’s all about the learning. If you learn that it works, great. If you learn that it doesn’t, at least you’ve collected some data points.

A good prototype is cheap to construct, fast to implement and helps us to learn.

– How can I do this with the resources I already have or technology I can access for free?
– What is the quickest way I can get this off the ground and get feedback?
– What specific question am I hoping to answer and what else can I learn through the process?

You can have a prototype conversation or a prototype experience.

A prototype conversation might be grabbing a coffee or getting on a call with someone who has experience with what you’re looking to learn.
They could be a potential client, collaborator or partner and you’re looking for market feedback on your product/service. Alternatively they could be someone who has already done something similar who is willing to share the wisdom of their experience.

A prototype experience is finding a way to test your idea in the market – whether it’s offering a beta version of your product/service, or taking on a new role as part of a short term project to see if it’s a good fit.

Keeping a new professional or creative relationship project-based is a good way to prototype it. Working for a set time period on a project with measurable outcomes gives you the opportunity to evaluate how you work together without having tied yourselves to each other at this point.

Reasons why we should prototype:

To ask interesting questions.
A good prototype will encourage us to ask generative questions. These open the doors to possibilities and allow us to think in creative ways.

To expose and test assumptions.
Sometimes we hold assumptions without realising it. We assume that something won’t work before we test it. We assume we know how that certain action will lead to a certain outcome.
Prototyping allows us to test these things in a non-destructive way.
We may expose assumptions held in the marketplace that we need to address in order to enrol others in our idea or product.

To involve others with our ideas.
We can spend a lot of time obsessing over our ideas and plans. Trying to make sure they’re perfect by working through the details over and over in our head.
Talking to others is often a great way for us to discover and test the most effective ways to communicate about our projects.
It allows us to get almost instant feedback on how others respond to our proposal.
It provides the opportunity to generously welcome knowledge and experience from others who have been there ahead of us.

To sneak up on the future.
Sometimes we see the future as a long way off. Unattainable at this moment. There will always be a distant future, but usually the next step we must take is a lot closer than we believe. A prototype allows us to take a step in that direction without giving up our current position. A prototype is never all or nothing.

Maybe there’s an opportunity for a ‘tinder for ideas’. Swipe left or right to decide which concept you want to take on a date. Any developers out there who want to help me prototype it?

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