Try, Try and Try Again – Iteration and Prototyping
Let’s take a journey together. Imagine you discovered a problem. You worked on a creative solution that meets all your needs. You are invested in fixing this problem, and want the best possible outcome. Then someone, without asking any questions, without giving you an opportunity to contribute, tells you what to do next. Do you like this new solution? Do you feel like you contributed? Are you empowered?
At SAP, Design Thinking embraces the ability to work in short iterative cycles of Look, Think, and Do with our customers. I want to talk a little bit about what it means to “Do.”
I’m a witness to the Do phase every day with my toddler. When we are stacking blocks, assembling Legos, or building train tracks he is actively testing out the feasibility of his latest invention. Even at the young age of 3, he quickly learns a strong foundation is needed to build a high tower and that the train will break around a turn if too many box cars are connected. He breaks his creation down, and builds it up again, maybe this time with a new turn or bridge or tunnel included. It’s this observation and curiosity which leads to experimenting and doing and allows him to see how different pieces work together. This creativity and exploration of our surroundings starts even earlier. I think about my younger son who persistently drops food out of his highchair indirectly trying to to understand gravity – he’s experimenting with a force that will soon become second nature to him. The learning done by our children in their early years continues on when creativity is nurtured, and we can learn from their experiences.
How can we bring this creation spirit into Design Thinking?
Combining the problems we’ve found through the look cycle and the ideas we’ve generated in the think cycle, we can then bring it to the next level by creating something tangible…by doing. Creating something that can be touched, felt, and experienced by others. A prototype allows you to actively see what works and what doesn’t work along the way and provides a unique opportunity to iterate and receive feedback from others. A prototype allows you to engage all of the senses when communicating a challenge or idea; instead of simply hearing about the idea, we are able to interact with the solution and become a part of the experience. We can see, touch, feel, and maybe even the taste the progress.
You’ve explored a problem, looked at it from many angles, collaborated with others and are ready to implement a solution. Now someone carries your idea further by sharing something tangible. Something you can touch and interact with, build on and improve. The person asks for your opinion. Together you work to create a solution that surpasses the original. Are you happier with the result?
Prototyping increases our collectiveness and cooperation and is a crucial part of Design Thinking.