Credits: Pablo Sanhueza @p.sanhueza.gutierrez
Prototyping moves an idea or innovation into something concrete. A prototype is an experiential microcosm of the future you want to create; it allows you to “explore the future by doing.” A prototype is an early draft of what a final project or initiative might look like; it can go through several iterations, based on feedback from stakeholders. The purpose of Prototyping is to refine an idea and its underlying assumptions, and to test what later could become a pilot project that can be shared and eventually scaled up.
After a group completes the sensing and presencing stages that make up the left and bottom sides of the U-process, the next stages allow a group to crystallize ideas and prototype them. Prototyping is a mini U-process in itself, and follows the three stages of co-sensing, co-inspiring, and co-creating, moving a group or individuals up the right side of the U-process.
- Set intention. Intention is powerful. Connect to the future that stays in need of you. Crystallize your vision and intent. First and foremost, when Prototyping, you need to stay connected to the idea, the inspirational spark of the future that got you started.
- Form a core team. Your prototype might require you to work with a team. If so, it is important for this team to reflect the diversity of players and stakeholders in the system. The team should be committed to making the prototype projects its number one priority for a specified period.
- Arrange infrastructure. Prototyping requires a supporting infrastructure, including:
- a place (a cocoon) that helps an individual or group to focus on creative work with minimal distractions.
- a timeline with strict milestones that produces preliminary prototypes early on and generates fast-cycle feedback from all key stakeholders.
- content help and expertise at important junctures; process help that enables the team to go through rapid experimentation and adaptation every day (after-action reviews), and to benefit from peer coaching on the key challenges of the way forward.
- Integrate head, heart, and hand. Moving down the left-hand side of the U is about opening up and dealing with the resistance of thought, emotion, and will; moving up the right-hand side is about intentionally reintegrating the intelligence of the head, the heart, and the hand in the context of practical applications.
- Iterate, iterate, iterate. Create, adapt, and always be in dialogue with the universe, the context. A prototype must be grounded in the purpose it is Intended to serve. Every Prototyping process requires continuous feedback from reality.