Welcome to module six

Purposeful Prototyping and Pilots.

Learn quick, iterative and effective prototyping and piloting methods to validate concepts with your target audience. Throw away assumptions and respond to customer and stakeholder needs effectively.







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Prototyping & Pilots.

Can you explicitly list the hypotheses and assumptions in your business plan?

Have you tested what features you actually need, the price people will pay, the user journey of how someone actually discovers your service?

Outside of your core ‘users’ have you considered the different stakeholders involved in your system?

What actions do you need to take to validate your model?

During Module Four, we spoke about MVPs, which are essentially prototypes. In this Module, we’ll delve further into ways to test our businesses in order to gather the necessary feedback to succeed.


“What actually is prototyping?

Prototyping is an approach to developing, testing, and improving ideas at an early stage before large-scale resources are committed to implementation. It is a way of project and team working which allows you to experiment, evaluate, learn, refine and adapt. Ensuring that ideas are fully explored before any conclusions are drawn.



  • Involves relevant people at an early stage.

  • Develops ideas with the people who will help you find the answers.

  • Makes ideas tangible and tests them.

  • Refines those ideas.

  • Informs and improves any eventual project framework for change.

Why would I use a prototyping approach?

  • Prototyping allows you to try out your ideas without the pressure of getting everything right straight away.

  • Prototyping also enables you to involve a wide range of stakeholders in the testing process, providing a better understanding of how your ideas will work.

  • Compared to a pilot, prototyping is a low cost process and can be done within short to medium timescales.

  • Prototyping also provides an iterative learning approach so ideas can develop as you go along.

You should think about prototyping before you start thinking about piloting. Prototyping is not an alternative to piloting. It helps you build a better specification for what a pilot might be. It may even help you see that your idea isn’t going to work and save you the time and cost of a pilot.”

Purposeful prototyping.


“Prototyping is the permission to ask and act,” says Robin Bigio in this TEDx talk which talks about some prototyping fundamentals for social impact.

Making quick and dirty prototypes can be much more effective in receiving important feedback. Prototyping can be easy!



“How do we move more quickly to that prototyping mindset where we actually test in practice what the assumptions are that we’re building into processes?

I think that is definitely one of the things that needs to happen in order for those projects not to fail.”


LISTEN TO Ex-offender, Coss Marte

For anybody that's trying to start their own business, just prove the concept really small.

If you want to start a major retail fashion store, you've only got to open up a shop, make a T-shirt, buy a screen print, print it out and try to sell it to your brothers and sisters, you know what I mean? Put it out there. Don't be scared of hiding your idea too 'cause a lot of people say, "Oh, I can't tell anybody about this until I get funding".

Put it out there. Don't be scared.

Watch this video on prototyping business models.

It’s often common for us to focus on prototyping the key service or product whilst a ‘customer’ is using it.

But what’s happening in your business model both before and after that key time of interaction?

Beyond the obvious, what other scenarios are there that you could prototype?

Find your Minimum Viable Audience

(and read this post from Seth’s Blog)

In search of the minimum viable audience

“Of course everyone wants to reach the maximum audience. To be seen by millions, to maximise return on investment, to have a huge impact.

And so we fall all over ourselves to dumb it down, average it out, pleasing everyone and anyone.

You can see the problem.

When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone. And if you’re not the irreplaceable, essential, one-of-a-kind changemaker, you never get a chance to engage with the market.

The solution is simple but counterintuitive: Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.

And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.

It’s easy to talk about in the abstract, but difficult to put into practice. Just about every brand you care about, just about every organisation that matters to you–this is how they got there. By focusing on just a few and ignoring the non-believers, the uninvolved and the average.”


two other perspectives

The Future Of Prototyping Is Now Live by David Aycan & Paolo Lorenzoni

“There are two main ways that organisations prototype new products and services: rapid prototyping and piloting. However, we’ve discovered the need for an approach that falls somewhere between the two—to explore the customer value proposition and market appeal of a concept in the more turbulent and distracting context of the live market, but without full investment in a pilot. We call this approach ‘live prototyping.’”

Pilots Can Be Deadly For Product Innovation by Chunka Mui

“Many companies think they are staying agile by setting up pilots to validate new products before they’re rolled out at scale. But pilots aren’t the answer—at least not on their own. In fact, pilots can have deadly consequences. They can lock in early misconceptions of market dynamics, customer needs and technology requirements.”

Prototyping techniques.

Back in Module Three we spoke about trophy prototyping and why to avoid it. Whilst designing products for a large corporate, we often went out to the skip bins to source cardboard, before heading back in to the office to quickly stick together prototypes with hot glue guns. We had the best 3D printers, but building high fidelity models was not necessary in the early stages of the process.

Prototyping can be easy... so start testing! Here are a few methods you may like to try.


One of the quickest methods to prototype can be to literally act out a scenario. Find a space that works and mimmick the basic environment you need to test with (very) basic props. Invite colleagues or better yet, your key users to interact and act out how you may best help them. Sometimes having to quickly adapt to unexpected scenarios can bring new ideas to the table.


Hot on the heels of a roleplay exercise (or other testing activity), you may like to profit from the time you have together with your users and co-create a product/service solution using their recommendations. By asking your users open-ended questions, reversing roles or getting them to build or sketch new solutions together, you may arrive to some highly valuable new ideas!


Grab a material you may not often work with, give yourself a short time frame, get everyone in the team to build their solution and have them present it to the group. Better yet, take these lo-fidelity prototypes to your users and ask them to interact with them. Watch and listen to the feedback flow in!


Unsure on price, features or whether people are actually going to buy your offering? Set up an ‘order now’ button on your website and see what interests your audience and what price they’ll actually pay.


Why build a website or app, when you can rapidly sketch up the key buttons and features on a piece of paper or post it note (to mimmick a phone screen). Ask people to interact with your app and as they ‘click’ buttons, present them with the next sheet of paper to represent the next screen option... What is missing? Which features are most valued? Which features distract from the overall experience?


Why commit resources into building a retail store when you can test at a market or create a low-risk pop up store?


Make three quick prototypes. Go to where your users hang out. Take the plunge and start asking them for feedback...!

Setting new goals.

At the beginning of Elevate+, we spent time setting goals, wrote them down and had someone hold us accountable. Which ones did you complete and what did you learn? How did you adapt and what did you change?

It’s time to set new goals.

By Friday 29 March, please post on the Facebook group page:

  • One goal to be completed by the end of March.

  • Another goal (that makes you feel uncomfortable) to be completed by 10 April.

  • If you’re yet to prototype and test, this is your opportunity!



Watch this video. What are the key components that Zig Ziglar explains are necessary for us to achieve our goals?

Make sure the new goals you set yourself above are guided by Zig’s process. Write them down and commit to them!

Recommended books

If you spend time commuting, audiobooks are a great way to continue learning and challenging your perspectives. Have you read any of these yet?

Good luck team!

What’s the next thing you need to test?

Where might you be making assumptions?

We’ll look forward to seeing your prototypes and pilots as you move forward!


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You retain sole responsibility for actions and decisions, regardless of whether they are based on options or suggestions provided by Impact Boom. Any information contained should not be construed as legal advice.

Thank you for the fantastic energy you bring to the Elevate+ cohort.