Pioneering Innovators Visualise Now, Prototype Later

  • Creativity & Ingenuity
  • Constructive criticism
  • Open-mindedness
  • Objectivity
  • Clarity of thought and communication

For these reasons, good visualisation at the front end of innovation is far more effective than prototyping. There are 5 key principles when visualising for innovation…But, good visualisation for innovation requires a shift in mind-set for most people. So here’s 5 principles to help you change the way you think for effective visualisation and why:

1. Unravel

Resist the temptation to solve problems, instead unravel them. Break the problems down by creating visual stimulus that examines one issue or component of a product concept/ communication at a time. It will ensure each component is easier to discuss and optimise as it is isolated from the whole.

2. Explode

Explode-out the opportunities don’t flesh-out the ideas. Why give yourself the pressure of creating fully-formed ideas? Visualisation is cheaper and quicker than prototyping so instead look at all the possible ways a problem could be solved. Don’t answer any questions – instead visualise all the possible answers, hypotheses, ideas and hunches. AND in doing so, deliberately challenge yourselves and your collaborators that you could be wrong. So what are the alternatives? – Visualise them too.

3. Build

Think “building blocks” rather than “sculptures’ block”. Throughout your visualisation process, see it it as a building project. Not a complete idea to be morphed, chipped away at and honed. It will feel less like your “masterpiece” and more like something that can be co-created and modified along the way. Moreover, if it’s not a masterpiece you will be more comfortable sharing and accepting feedback.

4. Play

Don’t work at it, play at it. Think of ways that your visuals can encourage both yourself and those you share them with to tinker & play. Some of the ways of doing this are:

Leave deliberate gaps to be filled

Create some puzzles pieces to be constructed, put together

Have elements that can be moved around, disregarded, swapped in and out, or re-prioritised

5. Sketch 

Roughly convey ideas and concepts, never attempt to perfect them. Our human instinct to perfect and finish must be unlearned. Because visuals that look deliberately rough and undone will engender much more useful reactions from those you share them with at this stage. ‘Perfect’ product concepts look like a fait accompli, so a respondent will not be clear what is “up for grabs” in terms of potential to develop – and may even be (especially in Britain) too polite to build upon what’s there.

Unravel, explode, build, play and sketch AKA have some fun. When visualising for innovation you need to ditch your Perfect-Policeman self and embrace your inner child instead.

Published 10th October 2014 by Natalie Reed @ the Strategy Distillery