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Choosing the Right Prototyping Tools for Innovation Success

Bassam AlKharashi Bassam AlKharashi on September 21, 2016

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Before using a full-scale and full-blown solution design or product, your ideas need to be tested first in a quick and cheap manner using low fidelity prototypes. Prototypes are the less expensive and simpler versions of your solution or product that are used as a model to determine what still needs to be fixed, added or improved before your solution or product is realized.

Create the Best Innovative Solution Prototypes Easily

Prototyping business idea early and rapidly helps turn brilliant ideas into successful products or solutions. It helps detect and solve problems early on. When you prototype a business idea early, you are able to eliminate uncertainties and improve the accuracy of your idea. It also allows you to explore more ideas and exchange thoughts early on with concerned parties.

Prototyping decision matrix exist to help designer understand which type of prototype would work the best at a specific point of time of business development. Such matrix would identify the nature of prototype like service, product, system or space. This provides the pathway for multiple prototyping techniques.

Here is an overview of some prototyping techniques. 

Choosing the Right Prototyping Tools

Prototyping tools help developers, project managers and web designers quickly get everyone on the same page. We’ve compiled a list of trusted and effective prototyping tools that can easily help you get ahead of the game.

Story Boards

This is the visual representation of a story.

Design challenges are first solved through this prototyping tool by using photos and graphic design elements. Because of its simplicity, this tool can be used by anyone. Facilitators don’t need to depend on other tools in executing this tool at the beginning, however once execution has begun, there might be a need to use other tools in the process and you’ll need to revise your storyboard. A story board makes use of a catchy and memorable title, and illustration titles to provide context about the task shown in the story.

System Maps

This tool is used when you need to accommodate a large number of interdependent tasks altogether.

You use this tool to develop, test and communicate your project until the end if your primary need has been identified as a system. When user experience is diverse and you need to understand the situation from various viewpoints that could not be explained using a story board, then this is the tool for you. This tool can be used by anyone and repeated experience using this tool increases the quality of understanding.

Experience Prototypes

This tool is best used by people who have basic understanding of user experience.

It is used to test offline and online information content and to understand interactive elements like voice, screen or written data. It can be used simply to demonstrate an idea to the potential users or stakeholders as well since it easily catches their first impression of the product or model.

Construction Iteration.

Low cost, low time, and low investment best describe this tool. It doesn’t require any specific skills for people to use it. Construction iteration is used to quickly understand the size and shape of product and space in the environment.

Service Image.

This tool is used to stimulate people’s visual capability around the most important elements of a system, product, space or service. Although you need a professional designer to execute this tool, you can still design a template that is as close to the final deliverable.

Conceptual Model

This tool is based on the idea that putting the solution on paper makes the solution more shareable.

To understand the ides of the different team members about an agreed solution, they use the conceptual model tool. People who use this tool should be patient, have an interest in detail design, and the ability to understand that a design could have varied conceptual models that need to be studied so they can choose the best one.

Mock-up

Mock-up helps in visualizing the final product, system, service or space.

Some mock-ups are used at the start to test different solutions while others are used at the end to render the final solution. High-quality mock-ups are challenging to develop because of the techniques involved, but quick mock-ups are easy to develop and helpful in understanding system=specific elements.

Learning from test

This said, developing multiples prototypes to create a design does not guaranty an optimal user experience unless prototype are constantly tested. The temptation is high to develop prototype isolate and expect the 'whaa!' effect from the user.

This does not work.

Prototyping is typically participative, the end user must be involved from the very beginning to create this complicity between the design and users.

We recommend to test prototypes early and thoroughly across multiple prototyping trial. You learn again and again perfecting prototypes from user’s feedback.

Facilitating Innovation Program

Topics: Business Innovation

Innovating Creative Ideas Into Business Concepts Your Customer's Will Love

Andreas Havliza Andreas Havliza on September 14, 2016

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Ideation activities are sure to bring in a lot of ideas but in most situations, not all ideas are implemented. It is very important at the earliest phase of idea generation that there are already guidelines on how to choose which ideas are in the best interest of a project or an organization.

Create, collect then select the best ideas

It is important that as you are generating and collecting ideas, you are also applying the strategies on what to prioritize based on the needs and requirements of the group or the business. You need to set a list of criteria on how to choose the best ideas and here are some helpful guidelines to help you decide:

Evaluation

Do not just merely base on votes because oftentimes voting just speaks of the popularity of an idea and not about its workability. Also, there are ideas that may seem ridiculous at first but actually have a potential to be the most innovative ideas. It is always important to be discerning and evaluate ideas beyond the surface level.

Communication

By involving everyone, you are able to get to know what they think or what their perceptions are over the ideas. Communication encourages people to be more open and confident about their decisions and honest opinions.

Profitability

You cannot argue with this criterion. All businesses include profitability as a factor in any decision-making process. Knowing about the revenue opportunities that abound your product or service will help you choose the best ideas to implement.

Usability

The usability or functionality of an idea both short-term and long-term is very crucial. An idea is useless if it doesn’t fulfill a practical need.

Long-term Value

In relation to usability, you can gauge if the idea is one of the best if it works in the long run and becomes a necessity.

Stability

Businesses are unpredictable that’s why it’s important to consider an idea’s stability over time. It’s important for you to determine that an idea is not just simply a fad.

Clarity

Ideas should always be clear and concise. Uncertainties over an idea will just bring in a lot of assumptions which results to unexpected disasters.

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Eliminating Ideas

Now that you have a long list of ideas, the hardest part is about to start – choosing what not to include. It is tough making decisions but your organizational skills will help you sort things out.

Create a Go/No Go list where all ideas are listed and a set of criteria is included to help you determine if the ideas are retained or discarded.

Grouping ideas into concepts

After selecting which ideas to be implemented, the next step is to group these ideas into concepts. Before going further though, let us first differentiate an idea from a concept.

An idea is defined as a thought, plan, or suggestion about an action while concept is defined as an idea of what something is or how it works. Simply put, a concept is like the final form of an idea which has gone through a process of refinement. After listing down your ideas, it’s time to group them and collectively assess what ideas work well together. Start with ideas that are related to each other, put them together in one column or side until all ideas have their own groups and label each group.

Whatever ideas you choose to implement or eliminate, the bottom line is to stick with your criteria, be able to differentiate an idea from a concept, and be able to group and organize your ideas logically.

 

Topics: Business Innovation

The Best Ideation Tools for Business Success

Patrick Roupin Patrick Roupin on August 23, 2016

16_Innovation_Tools_.pngDid you know that many breakthrough and brilliant ideas started from ridiculously sounding ones? As most people where content with their physical book, Amazon took the lead in online book business. When most people thought videos were only meant for the TV, YouTube took the ‘wild’ business idea of creating a website where people can easily share their memorable experiences. Today, these companies are generating billions of dollars in revenue annually just because they were brave enough to put their seemingly ridiculous ideas into work. 

What’s the lesson here?

Great ideas don’t happen out of pure luck and accident. Ideas, no matter how ridiculous they sound at times, happen and succeed by linking knowledge, insights and experience. These companies succeed because they know how to make connections. They are thriving because they focus on creating strong connections rather than on being stuck into the thought of having a stupidly sounding idea. It’s as simple as that.

Must-have ideation tools.

The secret to business success is to learn the tricks of the trade. Tons of ideation tools abound the internet. These might overwhelm you in the process, so we’ve provided you with a concise but comprehensive list of ideation tools and tipa that you can apply to your business.  

  1. Idea Bridge. This tool uses the concept that our left and right brains are used for specific tasks and people have a bias to one side. Some people have a lot of ideas while others are hesitant of their thoughts. Hence, ideas are created through an exercise that won’t verbalize ideas or creations, making this tool work best for introverts. Everyone participates by writing ideas and questions on sticky notes. This then builds the bridge from both sides, linking ideas with constraints. Both ideas and constraints are given a fair share of focus. 

    This tool is designed to effectively help create your ideas by removing existing key elements in your product or business model. When you need disruptive or divergent ideas about an existing product or model because you want to disrupt your or your competitor’s product, this tool is the most suitable one for your business. Do keep in mind though that this tool isn’t for solving a problem or improving something that already exists.

  2. Reverse Innovation. Instead of asking directly for ideas, participants are asked for their insights and observations which make it easier to engage them. Thereafter we tweak and manipulate the experience to create something new. The method is often surprising but powerful. Participants who are not used to formal meetings or brainstorming are the perfect audiences of this ideation tool. It works well for processes but assumes there’s already an existing process. It is not a tool used when you are inventing or creating something new.

  3. Innovation Hacking. This ideation tool is used to welcome a wide array of potentially disruptive ideas. When you want different versions or variations of ideas of something that already exists, hacking or altering elements to create new ones is what you should use. However, when you want improvement ideas rather than divergent ideas or when you want a very specific result rather than a wide range of potentially disruptive ideas, then this ideation tool should not be used.

Different tools, different rules.

Setting ground rules allows facilitators to remind participants about the visual agenda without being too pushy or intimidating, and helps team members loosen up and become comfortable with the process of ideation.

  1. Hold your nerve. Jitters are normal, even some of the most experienced facilitators in the world still get nervous and anxious at times. Do not overthink and get overwhelmed with the responsibilities given unto you. Most importantly, take a deep breath, smile and have fun.
  2. Create and sustain energy. As the facilitator, your role is very crucial in getting your participants interested and energized not just at the beginning of the workshop, but more importantly until the workshop concludes. As a facilitator, remember that your energy is contagious whether you are the humorous or charismatic type. Make use of that tool as an advantage.
  3. Protect the ideators. Some ideators speak comfortably and confidently while others are unsure of their ideas. As the facilitator, it is your job to protect their ideas by constantly reminding everyone that no idea is a bad idea. You can elaborate on this by providing examples of seemingly ridiculous ideas that actually worked and made breakthroughs. You have the internet for it.
  4. Continually offer affirmation. Always give positive encouragement and affirmation physically and verbally. Studies show that positive affirmation produces positive engagement and is more successful at bringing good results. Go on and tell ideators that their ideas are brilliant, that you love their ideas, and that they are doing a great job.
  5. Facilitate, don’t ideate. Let them do the thinking and talking. Fight the urge to think for them. Your job is to guide them, not to spoon-feed them with your own ideas. If there are ideas that you want to convey, frame it in a question to engage them to think and answer.
  6. Don’t confuse energy with ideas. Workshops have all sorts of people with different personalities. Some have more dominant personalities over the others which make it uncomfortable for introverts. Always have fair judgment and allow all parties to share their ideas. Letting all participants write down their ideas ensures fair treatment and encouragement to both extroverts and introverts.

Always ask ideators to choose their top two favorite ideas before you finish. Now you have a long list of ideas. What do you do next? Before converging ideas, it’s important to know which ideas should be highly prioritized. This way, it would be easier for the sponsor to choose which ideas will progress further. Let participants choose a first and second favorite idea. When they can’t decide what to prioritize, let them give one of their votes to another participant’s idea.

Facilitating Innovation Program 

Topics: Business Innovation

Prioritizing business innovation in your organization

Bassam AlKharashi Bassam AlKharashi on August 22, 2016

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For the organization to succeed, it needs to have a structured and business-centered prioritization process to manage innovation. What happens after generating tons of ideas? The answer is you screen those ideas: they need to be chosen and prioritized based on the organization’s needs and objectives. Criteria need to be in place supporting the measurement of an idea’s importance. The following questions can guide the prioritization process:

  • What is the value of the idea? How valuable is it? What is the return of investment figure? Are there any tangible benefits from the idea?
  • Is the idea suitable with the organization’s strategy and current situation?
  • Will stakeholders support and accept the idea?
  • Is the idea feasible? Are there enough resources and time for it?
  • Will the idea benefit the organization and work plausible both in short and long term?

Engaging people

Prioritizing innovation starts with your team. The people are the organization’s most valuable asset. Here are some of the benefits of engaging people in every step of the innovation process:

  • People become more confident about what they are doing and act in the best interests of the organization
  • There’s a higher level of productivity
  • Doubles the success rate of an organization
  • People see the connection between their tasks and the larger goals of the organization
  • People lookout for the needs of others, the whole organization. They are generally more engaged
  • Improves the quality of work and health of people

Prioritizing the innovation by following a structured approach is most important. It’ll ensure a consistent approach and reliability. Staff can then be engaged with and guided through the innovation process to ensure a successful outcome.

Facilitating Innovation Program

Topics: Business Innovation

Creating value through business innovation

Andreas Havliza Andreas Havliza on August 9, 2016

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Innovation is defined as the process of turning ideas into solutions through certain methods referred to as the innovation process.

Business innovation matters

From a business perspective, innovation is what fuels the organization to change. With change as the only constant, any organization that does not change can soon fail. That is why organizations need to be able to adapt to changes, to constantly innovate and think long-term.

To understand how the innovation process works in the business perspective, there are five concepts to remember:

  1. Challenge: This phase is where you plan the innovation project, involve stakeholders, and frame and communicate the innovation challenge.
  2. Ideate: This simply means generating ideas.
  3. Converge: This is where you take a wide range of ideas and eliminate or combine them into a compelling design.
  4. Prototype: This is where an early sample or model of a product or services is created to be replicated or learned from.
  5. Test: This is the phase where you try out the workability and efficacy of your prototype

Creating value through innovation

Increasing business value through innovation is important for the organization’s success. Innovation challenges faced by organizations can be addressed and examined by frameworks which lead to value being generated by the ideation process. Innovation performance frameworks such as the following help organizations create values through innovation:

  • Product innovation strategy
  • Portfolio management
  • Idea-to-launch process
  • Climate and culture

The objective of business innovation

The objective of business innovation is simple yet powerful: it is to create, deliver and capture value through innovation. Let’s examine what value creation, delivery and capture entail:

Create Value

Feasibility is one objective of business innovation. The important questions to ask are what the product or service does, how is it made, and how do you build it.

Deliver Value

Interest should also be considered. Who is the intended market of the product or service? How do you get them and catch their attention? How is the sale completed?

Capture Value

Profitability, repeatability, and scalability of a product or service should not be ignored.

Business innovation is a deciding factor for an organization’s success or failure. Organizations that get comfortable with the norm or their usual ways of doing things and avoid changes get left behind and eventually fail. This is the powerful message of business innovation.

Facilitating Innovation Program

Topics: Business Innovation