Explore and Prototype

Meme – Experiment and Prototype

Use prototypes, test markets, and experiments to learn what you don’t know.

For Business Innovation Architects and their teams, much of what lies ahead is a mystery.  There is no clear roadmap of where the opportunities are, what should be done, or even what questions to ask.    

The team must learn, and since there is no sage waiting in the wings to provide an answer, the best way to gain knowledge is run an experiment.   Create a prototype.  Involve a test market.  Make something rather than just talking about it.  Get in front of real life people. 

Experiments trump other types of analysis and research because can be:

1)      Created In Ignorance – it may take a great deal of wisdom and knowledge to fully analyze a complicated problem.  In contrast it is possible to take a wild guess at building a quick experiment.  

2)      Quickly Executed – creating and running a prototype or market test is often the quickest way to get information to a complex multi-part problem.

3)      Unexpectedly Rich – a real life experiment generates more than just the answer to the question asked.  All sorts of unexpected insights and data points can be discovered.

4)      Honestly Truthful – A real life experiment provides real life results.   Perfectly splendid ideas will fail.  Unexpected honest truth is good.

5)      Doing It Teaches – The act of creating a prototype (even if it never works) is instructional.  Building something is deeply instructional.

6)      Forward Looking – Experiments fail  and succeed for unexpected reasons.  A prototype provides information that can be used to plan the next step forward.      

For this approach to work, there must be both an opportunity and an ability to experiment.  Teams must be adept at creating quick working prototypes and quick to market tests.   This must be matched by an ethic and project management approach that actively uses these skills to learn, improve and deliver creative new ideas.     


Stop thinking so hard.  Run an experiment to become smart. 

Good Reads: 

Brainstorming Questions

  • What don’t we know?  What are we assuming we know? 
  • What could we put in front of the User / Customer / Client quickly?
  • What could we show in a rough half formed state to people?
  • How quickly could we make something that sort of works?
  • What is our Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
  • Did the experiment work?  Why not?  What could we change and rerun?
  • What unexpected things occurred during our test?
  • The experiment give us some honest news that should make us reconsider our goals?

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