How many of us regret the time when we were 10 years old, carefree and willing to try any new experiences? (especially the most irresponsible ones.) I have to be honest with you, as a passionate service designer, I wish sometimes I had Benjamin Button’s case. I don’t really regret the hours confined in my room because another stunt turned badly for me and my friends. But what I actually miss the most is the ability I had to experiment and build quickly any kind of games or experiences with a transcended creativity and a budget close to zero. All the learnings I was gathering from these small experiments were allowing me to improve my craft and push further the boundaries of stupidity and recklessness (for scientific progress only). I keep on thinking that I was a much more innovative prototyper than today.

Prototyping isn’t just a design activity, it’s a culture, a philosophy. You start with an assumption, “Can I really fly if I jump from the second floor with an umbrella opened?” , see if it’s a valid one by experiencing it, “Weeeeee!!!”, then learn and start over with an improved version of your first assumption “I think next time I will try with wings…”.

Prototypes accelerate creativity and facilitate learnings about your design. In service design, the process goes like this:

  • Build: You make your idea coming to life quickly – done is better than perfect, trust me.
  • Test: You find someone who could be your future user and let him play and give his impression on it – let him do/say anything he/she wants, this part is about observation, no interference.
  • Learn: Finally, you takeaway the feedback and try to implement what you just witnessed to create a new better version of your prototype.

 

*Repeat – Over and over and over again.

Simple right? An incremental methodology to make your service as user-centric as possible. I could give you a thousand of elaborate tools and processes that claim to be the most efficient way to prototype. The truth is, there isn’t one unique way to go about prototype. For example, the format of your prototype is really depending on what you want to learn from it. If you are at an early stage of your service design process, you might want to test very quickly some of the early ideas you have. Low fidelity prototypes made of cardboard freshly excavated from the recycling bin and some paper sketches are just enough, no need for beautifully polished work of art. 

In the end, prototyping is a practice that makes you learn quickly about your end-user. So don’t be afraid to build and try different formats, different methods, there is no right or wrong answer. Also, try to keep those wise words by Thomas Edison in the back of your mind during the weekend: “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

This blog was written by Matthieu Lacaze, Innovation Strategist at Evolver Strategic Services. Why not take some time over the weekend to watch his film ‘Alpha’.

[su_button url=”http://www.alphadocumentary.com” background=”#000000″ size=”7″ icon=”icon: desktop” desc=”Feature Length film on prototyping”]Watch Alpha Documentary Online[/su_button]