Rules of Prototyping Engagement
Start small, but start
Starting anything can be really hard. Coming up with reasons not to start is easy especially when you try to follow a particular method or process exactly. Maybe you aren’t ready to fundamentally change your software methodology, but you can probably get your team to spend 5 minutes during a meeting sketching some ideas. As you get results, you will get the support to do more.
Be comfortable with showing messy work in progress
I used to only want to show things that were polished and refined, but I gave that up so I could be more responsive to the needs of my client and team. If you are leading a prototyping effort, you are going to have to show your messy work first to get others to feel comfortable showing their equally messy work.
You will be wrong, but it will make you better
“Wrong” or “fail” gives people hives, but I don’t know that anything innovative has ever happened without some failed experiments. Wrong is good if we learned something, and wrong is good is we saved ourselves months or thousands of dollars building the wrong thing. Every time I learn something, I make the project better and I get better. I get better at seeing from other’s perspectives, asking questions and anticipating problems.
Focus, Focus, Focus
There are always things that will derail you. Sometimes that will be you. Set up a repository for all the great ideas, feature requests, questions and assumptions so they don’t stop you from moving forward. The whole team is responsible for forward progress, and reigning each other in when we go off track, but it helps to have one person playing the enforcer (guess who that is on our team).
Image: Just a little design experiment from a few years back