Hey friends 👋,
Risk is inherent in any business.
That’s why optimising business processes becomes the focus once a business is established.
The problem is, optimisation often comes at the cost of innovation.
According to innosight, the “30 to 35-year average tenure of S&P 500 companies in the late 1970s is forecast to shrink to 15-20 years this decade”.
The company lifespan trend is dropping due to acquisitions, new technology and new entrants with innovative products or business models.
Sure, the pandemic has spurred some fantastic innovation.
In reality, the need to innovate has been there long before and will continue long after.
There are several factors that influence the gap between current state and desired future-state. But, one of the most critical is the ability to reduce risk (financial, time, reputation).
This week we’re diving deep into pretotypes and prototypes.
What is a Pretotype and How is it Different From a Prototype?
Pretotyping and prototyping are two important steps in product or service development, but they are often confused for each other.
Pretotyping is a quick and inexpensive way to test an idea before committing to a full-blown prototype. It can be as simple as a sketch or mock-up and is meant to determine if an idea is desirable.
Prototyping, on the other hand, involves creating a working model of a product to test its feasibility and design. It requires more detail and accuracy and is meant to validate the product before it goes into production.
I like to look at it this way. Rather than worrying about what label to use, think of it more as what you are trying to learn.
Alberto Savoia, describes the difference as:
“The main objective of prototyping is to answer questions related to building the product. Can we build it? Will it work as expected? How cheaply can we build it? How fast can we make it?”
“The main objective of pretotyping is to answer questions about the product’s or services’ appeal and usage. Would people be interested in it? Will they use it as expected? Will they continue to use it?”
So, pretotyping is about reducing the risk by getting early indications and validation of interest before you start building the real thing.
3 Practical Examples of Pretotypes
Pretotypes can be used for both product and service development. Here are three practical examples:
A storyboard is a visual representation of a product or service idea.
It is a simple and effective way to communicate an idea to stakeholders and test its desirability.
Storyboards can be as simple as a series of sketches or illustrations and are a great way to get feedback on an idea without investing a lot of time or resources.
I used a storyboard early on to understand the core experiences that resonated for people in this innovation project.
2) Paper Prototype.
A paper prototype is a low-fidelity representation of a product that is created by hand.
It is a quick and inexpensive way to test an idea, and it allows for rapid iteration and testing.
A paper prototype can be as simple as a sketch on a piece of paper, and it is a great way to get an understanding of the overall look and feel of a product.
3) Concept Video.
A concept video is a short video that demonstrates the key features and benefits of a product.
It is a great way to bring an idea to life and test its desirability, and it can be a powerful tool for communicating an idea to stakeholders.
Concept videos can be created quickly and inexpensively and are a great way to get feedback on an idea without investing in a full-blown prototype.
Pretotyping and Design Thinking
Pretotyping sits right in the testing phase.
But, remember design thinking isn’t linear and you may well be be testing an idea with users instead of interviews or perhaps introducing the idea at the end of a discovery interview.
Depending on what you’re wanting to learn, it could be something physical and very low fidelity, then building up to higher fidelity.
Here’s some examples from Kase Craig’s recent MBA project for the Canterbury Museum to explore ways to help neuro diverse visitors navigate the museum.
Originally Kase started by testing physical navigation using cardboard and tape. Then, iterating from what he learned by testing with a digital pretotype.
Combine a Pretotype with a Hypothesis
The reason that we use pretotypes is to test the desirability of an idea. And, so that we don’t rely on opinions.
A test needs a hypothesis to measure the outcome. For that I recommend the XYZ formula – X% of Y people will Z.
For example: 30% of students aged 18-25 will buy day old pies if it’s half the price of fresh pies.
The more specific you can be using a target metric, the easier it will be to make the decision to keep testing or invalidate the hypothesis and idea.
As always, feel free to reply to this email or reach out to me on LinkedIn as I’d love to hear your feedback and what you would like me to write about next.
Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next week.