Getting From Ideas to Products

In a time when innovation and new product development are vital to remain competitive, large organizations are looking for ways to generate and execute new product ideas while mitigating risk. Increasingly, these companies seek to create a startup culture as a means to generate innovation.

Developing an efficient mechanism for getting products from the idea phase to initial prototype (and then to market) has significant benefits:

  • Quicker idea validation.
  • Cheaper and lower risk idea evaluation versus a full blown product launch .
  • Management has the opportunity to be involved in product evaluation, rather than being removed from the product development and validation process.

Rapid prototyping

This involves instituting processes to quickly convert ideas, even if they are only 25-50% complete, into live products that can be placed the hands of potential users or testers.Rapid prototyping has several requirements and attributes, including:

  • Robust and flexible product development expertise, as the ideas may be broad in nature.
  • Expedited development capabilities, often executed without a complete set of user requirements.

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The Serious Job of Prototyping

Things have definitely gotten out of hand. Executives in suits are rummaging around in the LEGO box, a tall man is putting on a wig and speaking in a high-pitched voice, and a group has hijacked all the furniture to build what looks suspiciously like a fortress. Not a scene from an asylum, but the Prototyping phase of THNK’s Innovation Flow. It’s time to turn new ideas and visions into something tangible, a product that can be used and tested, broken up and rebuilt a dozen times. For innovation leadership, this is a crucial step in the creative process.

Build! Break! Try! Play! Dare!

It is virtually impossible to develop creative solutions to complex challenges and get this perfectly right the first time around, hence prototyping. Prototyping is about quickly fabricating the envisioned solution, then going through multiple iterations of testing it with users and fabricating new versions. The cost of fabrication should be low and the process of making and testing should be rapid. This is why a more accurate word for prototyping would be polytyping – it’s all about iteration.

There are three important advantages of Prototyping:

  1. Prototyping makes a concept tangible. One can use all senses to design the proposed concept. It allows thinking with one’s hands.
  2. Prototyping allows us to see if and how the various elements of the solution work together. It enforces consistency and completeness.

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