Digital Froggers
Top 5 Must Do’s of Enterprise Innovation: Prototyping

Listen in to the discussion about prototyping:
Top 5 Must Do’s of Enterprise Innovation: Prototyping (feat. Greg Ladas and Michael Pullen)


Lisette Diamant : 0:01

Welcome to Digital Froggers, a podcast brought to you by LeapFrog Systems. I’m Lisette Diamant, LeapFrog Systems’ Digital Brand Manager, and I’ll be your host. On today’s episode of Digital Froggers, we build on a continuation of the five must haves for innovation at the enterprise level. Last week’s episode centered on a conversation around Design Thinking, and we’re building further as we head into today’s episode on prototyping. Thrilled to have Greg Ladas and Michael Pullen back in our virtual recording studio environment today. Thank you both so much for being here.Greg Ladas : 0:38

Great to be here again.Michael Pullen : 0:39

Thank you very much Lisette.Lisette Diamant : 0:41

And again, if you’re unfamiliar with these two voices from last week’s episode, Greg is one of our leads in the Agile transformation space, Michael is one of our digital business consultants who holds expertise in product design and design thinking approaches. So without further ado, Michael, I’d love for you to start us into this conversation on prototyping. I think that word can mean a lot in the work that we do. But specifically driving and honing that into the design thinking framework would be most helpful.Michael Pullen : 1:09

Well, as we talked about last week, with design thinking, you start off with observing your customers and taking some time to expand your knowledge about how they work and empathizing with them, getting in their shoes. Then you take that information, you analyze it, you try to consolidate it in a way that your team can work with it and understand the context of how your users think and behave, all that sort of fun stuff. And that allows you to move into the world of ideation and exploring the solution space. The next stage is to go into the design and prototyping stage. In design thinking, the word prototyping is used from the context of trying to learn about the ideas and the solutions you’ve come up with. So it’s different than the way engineers and software developers use the word prototyping, which is to prove out an idea. We’re not trying to prove anything by prototyping. We’re trying to create a sketch, a mock up, in order to learn, to be able to put it in front of end users and have them give feedback. We want to know what works and what doesn’t work, so that when we are looking across these hundreds of solutions, it allows us to take and start consolidating the ideas that are working and start moving ourselves in the directions of an optimal solution, or at least a better solution that is going to exceed the expectations of our customers and users in the marketplace.Lisette Diamant : 2:43

So Greg, in the work that you do, you’re so animated and so passionate, and you exude that in the room when you lead some of our workshops. And I’m just trying to think if there’s a way you could bring about an example and share with us a time in which you demonstrated a prototype.Greg Ladas : 3:01

Yeah, you know, I’d like to first say that if you haven’t scheduled a design thinking workshop with Michael Pullen yet, what are you waiting for? Because it is treat to have Michael facilitate one of these sessions, one of these workshops with your customers and product owners and marketing groups. But ultimately, it is just about the ability to connect with your customer and to get their feedback before you start actually building the real product.Lisette Diamant : 3:34

And Michael, building a little bit further, why is prototyping itself so integral to the design process?Michael Pullen : 3:42

Well, I think what happens is, when you’re trying to describe something in words, there’s so many ways to interpret it. And so what you want to do is get as visual as possible for people. So if you were sketching something and you don’t really know much about it, your chicken scratch on a piece of paper put in front of somebody is probably sufficient. So sometimes just what you know, visually placed down in front of your customers and users is the best way to get feedback.Lisette Diamant : 4:21

And just thinking about doing this work, Greg, asking this to you specifically, when do you find it helpful to incorporate prototyping? Early, in the middle, the end, throughout?Greg Ladas : 4:32

Throughout the process, because the the backlog is ever changing. There are always new product ideas that need to be implemented. So certainly at the beginning of the creation of a new product, it’s essential, but as you go and as there are new ideas, new major themes that are introduced to the backlog, you want to reconnect with your customer and ensure that those themes are still valuable.Lisette Diamant : 4:59

That’s a really great point. I’m thinking of that continuous cycle, ever-evolving, ever-producing similar to the framework of Agile, right? So I think of you Greg, in the work that you do in the Agile space specifically, of how both of these Design Thinking and Agile frameworks really mirror each other quite nicely.Greg Ladas : 5:17

Oh they do fit together really well. And whenever you can tie the outcomes that you produce from your backlog directly to your customers, and through Design Thinking you do that, you can then ensure that you are focusing on truly what’s important to them.Michael Pullen : 5:36

Design Thinking many times is thought of as this one time workshop, up front in the process, and then it kind of disappears as you go along. Though most well run teams that we’ve worked with are able to incorporate customer feedback after every sprint. If you’re doing it along the way and you’re behaving in a way that it’s always an opportunity to learn and you’re aiming for that minimal viable product, then you should be able to on a regular basis, if it’s not every two weeks, let’s call it every three or four weeks, you’re getting feedback immediately from your customers. The more you can do that, the better off you are so that by the time you get to that end, at that point, you should be pretty confident that the product you delivered is the product that your customer is looking for. But it does take an organization a bit of time to organize themselves in a way that they can continually get feedback from the customer.Greg Ladas : 6:46

Right on Michael, you know, we really need to break down those walls between the delivery team and the customer. And the more so that we can do that and the more effective the delivery cycle will be from the very beginning and interacting with the customer through getting their feedback at the end of every sprint and ultimately, the end product that is delivered for MVP.Lisette Diamant : 7:09

Any final thoughts on prototyping?Michael Pullen : 7:12

Yes, do it! Prototype! One of the metrics, for those who like metrics, is how long does it take from idea to prototype inside of your organization?Lisette Diamant : 7:27

Hmm.Michael Pullen : 7:28

So many organizations spend weeks, months talking, thinking, researching, doing all sorts of fun things before they get to a prototype. What we encourage is get to prototype as quick as possible. So even while you’re coming up with all those lovely ideas and you’re solutioning, no reason why you can’t have a bunch of people in the room who are excellent at sketching, or get practicing yourself. A couple of boxes and lines do a good job.Greg Ladas : 7:58

Don’t get stuck in “analysis paralysis” and don’t think you have to have a tool. Act it out, sketch it out, whatever gets you to interacting with a customer faster is best.Lisette Diamant : 8:12

Some great points to end on. Thank you both so much for coming in here today. We’ve learned so much about prototyping and really being able to make that happen at the organizational level. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Greg. Appreciate you both joining us today in our remote recording studio.Michael Pullen : 8:28

Thank you very much Lisette, this was very fun.Greg Ladas : 8:30

Yes, right on Lisette. It was a fun session and looking forward to hearing the rest of the top five!Lisette Diamant : 8:40

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