Prototyping To Discover Who Should Be Involved

Jared Spool

May 23rd, 2013

When you prototype, you can learn a ton of things about what you’re building and how you should build it. Prototyping is an exploratory process, revealing details and ideas that only emerge once you have something in front of you.

There’s one thing you can learn while prototyping that nobody ever talks about: Who should be involved in this project?

Design is a team sport. Building and supporting a product or service will need the assistance of others.

The traditional approach to involving these other folks is to hand them a requirements document and say, “Here. Build this.” The hardcore traditionalists spend weeks or even months describing every mind-numbing detail in the document, pretending the people they hand it to won’t have anything useful to contribute. Then the tradidtionalists wonder why these folks are pissed for treating them like they are idiot savants.

Using a prototyping alternative, we can show what we’re doing to those folks who will be helping us get it out the door and supporting it once it’s out in the world. We can ask them questions like, “Is this the best way to get these results?”

More importantly, we can ask these folks, “Who else should we be talking to? What might those folks tell us about what we’re trying to do?” Suddenly, we’re building a team of collaborators instead of trying to mimic a poorly-constructed factory assembly line.

If you’re prototyping, are you asking, “who else should be looking at this? Who else should be playing with us as we try out these ideas?”

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