Innovation Management:

New Product Development

Prototyping

Driving Growth through via Product/Service Innovation

By: Vadim Kotelnikov

Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach Inspiration and Innovation Unlimited!

 

"Nothing turns a concept into reality faster than a prototype." ~ Paul Sloane

Five Stages of the Product Design Process

  1. Preparation of concepts

  2. Detailed design

  3. Production of prototypes

  4. Testing

  5. Final design

Purpose of Prototyping1,5

Incremental vs. Radical Innovation Projects

  1. Incremental innovation projects: The purpose of a prototype is to iron out wrinkles near the end of the design phase.

  2. Radical innovation projects: A prototype is a source of inspiration and accidental discoveries through experimentation, a mechanism for teaching the market, both internal and external, about the new technology/product and selling your ideas to others, and an instrument for learning from the markets how valuable that technology/product is in that application arena.

 

Radical Innovation Prototyping Experimentation Managing Discoveries Creating Customer Value Managing Radical Innovation The Tao of Value Innovation Radical Innovation: Prototyping

Some Tips for Successful New Product Testing

By Paul Sloane2

  • Carefully analyze customer reactions and feedback. Adapt and improve the idea... More

10 Commandments of Innovation

 

Customer-driven Innovation

7 Practice Tips

Innovation Is Love

 

 

Turning Ideas into Reality

An experimental hands-on try-it-out approach is invaluable to innovation. You never know the real value of your invention until you test market it. Rapid prototyping is about building and testing new things fast. It helps you jump past endless analysis to quickly obtain a valuable feedback.

The Virtuous Circle of Experimentation

"Before there is a prototype, the ideas exists in abstract form only," writes Paul Sloane.2 "It is described in words and leaves scope for misunderstanding. It is hard for the originator to convey exactly what he or she has in mind, and it is easy for people to get hold of the wrong end of the stick. Once the prototype exists then people can see and touch and feel the idea. Comments for improvement will flow thick and fast. Whether the prototype is a model in cardboard and string or a software application consisting of a few skeleton screens with nothing behind them, it presents a framework for refinement and extension of the idea."

 Case in Point  Ten3 Business e-Coach

We invented inspirational Ten3 Business e-Coach in 2001 and, by now, have won customers in over 130 countries. Though we understand our target market well enough, we keep launching every new mini-course as a prototype to test the market. We start with developing and releasing a free micro-course  to analyze the market feedback. We experiment with everything: content, style, title, differentiation, creative marketing approaches. Having discovered the optimum combination of ingredients of success, we create and launch a full-scale show .

 Case in Point  Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg is an incredible entrepreneur and a billionaire, and also a Mayor of New York City. In his book Bloomberg By Bloomberg he writes, "We made mistakes, of course. Most of them were omissions we didn't think of when we initially wrote the software. We fixed them by doing it over and over, again and again. We do the same today. While our competitors are still sucking their thumbs trying to make the design perfect, we're already on prototype version No. 5. By the time our rivals are ready with wires and screws, we are on version No. 10. It gets back to planning versus acting. We act from day one; others plan how to plan for months.'

A Source of Inspiration: Encourage Accidental Discoveries

"Quick prototyping is about acting before you've got the answers, about taking chances, stumbling a little, but then making it right. Living, moving prototypes can help shape your ideas. When you're creating something new to the world, you can't look over your shoulder to see what your competitors are doing; you have to find another source of inspiration," writes Tom Kelly1 from IDEO. "Once you start drawing or making things, you open up new possibilities of discovery. Doodling, drawing, modeling. Sketch ideas and make things, and you're likely to encourage accidental discoveries. At most fundamental level, what we're talking about is play, about exploring borders."1

Loose-Tight Leadership

Prototyping is a Dance

"Prototyping is a dance," writes Tom Kelly1 from IDEO. Sometimes the music doesn't move you or your steps fail. But that's no reason to stop. Just as writer's block happens when writers stop writing, so, too, does innovation grind to a halt when prototypes stop being built. When the muse fails you, don't mope at your desk. Make something."

 

"I just prototype a bad idea and maybe shoot the hell out of it," says one of IDEO's engineers. He'll often know it's not the solution he wants, but if he prototypes it, he can shoot it down faster and then find out what doesn't work or perhaps discover something new. "Prototypes can be a source of creation and insurance. When all else fails, prototype till you're silly."1

The Jazz of Innovation: 11 Practice Tips

Use Prototypes to Sell Your Ideas to Others

"Good prototypes don't just communicate they persuade," says Tom Kelly.1 Prototypes beat words and pictures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a good prototype is worth a thousand pictures. "It is easy to reject a dry report or a flat drawing. But models often surprise, making it easier to change your mind and accept new ideas. Or make hard choices, such as forgoing costly and complex features. Give your management team a report, and it's likely they won't be able to make a crisp decision. But a prototype is almost like a spokesperson for a particular point of view, crystallizing the group's feedback and keeping the things moving."4

 Case in Point  Discovery of the Structure of DNA

Source: The Art of Innovation, Tom Kelley1

"I decided that no harm could come from spending a few days building backbone models," said 1963 Nobel Prize winner James Watson, referring to the metal prototypes he and fellow geneticist Francis Crick used to model and test their hypotheses. "Perhaps a week of solid fiddling with the molecular models would be necessary to make us absolutely sure we had the right answer."

Although their academic colleagues were skeptical of the approach, Watson and Crick's freethinking style and openness to two-dimensional and three-dimensional prototyping helped guide them toward the momentous discovery of the structure of DNA. Even Watson sometimes wondered if he was floundering. "My doodling of the bases on paper at first got nowhere. Not until the middle of the next week, however, did a nontrivial idea emerge. It came while I was drawing the fused rings of adenine on paper."

 Case in Point  New Type of Vacuum Cleaner

Source: The Leader's Guide To Lateral Thinking, Paul Sloane

James Dyson is an Englishman who invented a new type of vacuum cleaner involving a 'dual cyclone'. He built over 5000 prototypes as he battled to convince manufacturers and banks to back him. Eventually he got the backing to develop his dream and produce the first production unit. Within two years his machine was the market leader in the United Kingdom.