Your First Prototype is with Pen and Paper


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There are few faster, cheaper and more effective tools than the pen and paper. It’s easy, you can use it anywhere and anytime and it is one of the most effective collaboration tools that exist.

The best course I have ever taken since college and in fact, I might as well throw college into the mix was a sketching class. It taught me more about “How to See” or observe than any of my engineering, communication and even Lean and Six Sigma training. Another added benefit, actually the original intent, was to relinquish any fear that I had in picking up a pencil and sketching. Admittedly, I never became a proficient artist in those 8 weeks but it was my first stepping stone to sketching. I later increased my ability with cartooning, particularly Looney Tune characters. It was a great tool and I encourage anyone to spend time developing these skills including the Looney Tune group. .

As Service Design, Design Thinking, Open Innovation and Co-creation continue become more prevalent, prototyping is becoming more applicable to any industry or even professional service firm. The most obvious is of course on the web with many Beta or Free-trial type applications.

The typical first step outside of the idea is putting it on paper. That in itself can be a daunting task for many. I ran across this Slideshare presentation that I found to be a great introduction on how to start out the process by using these 3 simple steps, which I have paraphrased:

  1. See – Ask: What are you thinking
  2. Sort – Ask: What it means
  3. Sketch – Ask: Why does it matter

If you can translate your idea to paper using this outline, you have built your first prototype.

Kate also included the workbook she handed out with this presentation.

View more presentations from Kate Rutter

Getting through this first step can be very difficult. The first person that will critique this will be you. That fear of failure or unwillingness to seek input because your waiting for a more finished product or even idea can be significantly minimized by using this process. See, Sort and Sketch provides a simple orderly process that is easily communicated to others. And by involving others early in the process, it allows for more collaboration throughout the process.

P.S. It is not just for an external process either. The same thought process can be used for internal projects and team communication.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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