Tag Archives: brainstorming

The Rise of Rapid Prototyping

Do you remember building with popsicle sticks? Pipe cleaners? Construction paper? Could you ever imagine bringing a bag full of those materials to the workplace during a brainstorming meeting? Well maybe you should!

A growing community of innovators is practicing what is called rapid prototyping — a way to maximize learning and new ideas in the shortest amount of time, removing barriers like full-scale production and the need for cumbersome business requirements documentation.

At InsighTech on Monday, I was enthralled by Robin Beers‘ presentation on her experience with this new innovation style, where she told the room that “perfection is the enemy of rapid prototyping.” A new product, which could take months or longer to brainstorm, spec, and prototype could come about much quicker when the team focuses on fast ideas and non-working prototypes literally made from arts & crafts materials.

The theory behind this is that the more iterations of an idea we have, the quicker the best features or solutions rise to the top and the others die off. Robin referred to Tom Chi as one of the pioneers of this method — you can see him explain it in his talk at TEDxKyoto in the video below

Tom Chi discusses rapid prototyping at TEDxKyoto

Aside from wanting to participate in a rapid prototyping sessions because it just looks like so much fun, I thought it would be great to see some of these ideas applied to research with consumers. A lot of research is already embracing consumer co-creation as a part of a qualitative tool set, but if we can effectively combine that with a rapid-fire iteration model, the rewards could be big.

Innovating a Roadmap for Customer Experience

Photo by paul bica
“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” – Roger Staubach, former star NFL quarterback
Organizations that focus on improving the customer experience will strengthen their customer relationships and their overall business performance. Len Ferman knows this first-hand. Len is Managing Director of Ferman Innovation, specializing in generating and evaluating ideas to improve the customer experience.

Len is also a world juggling champion. During the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit (TCEL) earlier this month, he reinforced the three principles of new product innovation through his unique presentation. TCEL attendees learned how to juggle scarves while learning how to solve their customer experience challenges using this proven process:

3 Steps to Innovating for the Customer Experience:
  1. Explore: Understand the customer journey. Identify the customer pain points and challenges. Identify themes for brainstorming.
  2. Ideate: Brainstorm with a diverse group to generate a high quantity of possible solutions. Enable all employees to contribute ideas.
  3. Evaluate: Evaluate, cultivate and prioritize the top ideas for implementation
Learning to juggle not only helped TCEL attendees improve their ability to multi-task, increase eye-hand coordination, sharpen their brains and impress their friends, but also provided these valuable insights related to the 3 Steps:
  • Break down complex processes into elementary steps
  • Learn how to use the tools that are at your disposal
  • Recognize the patterns and categories in your data
  • Identify your customers’ key problems
  • Strive for accuracy in basic tasks
  • Create intentional “wow” experiences
  • Defer judgment – no idea is a bad idea
  • Include all parts of your organization in idea generation
  • Stray out of your comfort zone to generate ideas
  • Balance different methods of brainstorming
  • Go for quantity when generating ideas
  • Great ideas are the result of collaboration and building on others’ ideas
  • Filter out extraneous information and out of scope ideas
  • Evaluate each idea using carefully designed criteria
  • Include subject matter experts and customers in the evaluation
  • Cultivate ideas until they resonate with customers
  • Prioritize your actions to ensure you reach the goal
  • Optimal solutions are the ones that match your core competencies
Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and on her website at www.starrybluebrilliance.com.