Next time your friends can’t decide where to go to eat, recommend McDonald’s.
Nothing against the chain (big fan of the McChicken over here), but it’s typically not a group’s first choice for dining. And that’s the point. By introducing this option, you’ve asked them to react. They can either react by saying no and recommend another place, or by saying yes and making the discussion moot. Talk is over, and action has begun.
That’s the gist of prototype thinking. Often when people discuss, it can easily become theoretical or just blah blah blah. Decisions don’t get made, nobody acts. But when you have a conversation around a prototype, your involvement is more active. You are being asked to consider an option, and if you say No then you have to say why, which will then get you closer to an agreement.
It’s important to talk things through. It’s pivotal. Without it you don’t get an opportunity to know what others think, who they are, or what’s important to them. But when you need to make a decision, you should always find a prototype and throw that into the conversation.
The prototype can be a sketch of a process; a mock up of an idea; an imperfect model of a product. It can be half-baked solution, or a rough draft of what you see as the problem.
Grappling with a prototype makes your thinking a lot clearer. You now have something “tangible” to grab, tear apart, and consider. The conversation moves away from the passive and theoretical and towards the active.
A prototype also makes everyone consider it in comparison to their own options. Which one is better? What is either missing? How is it different from what I would come up with?
Prototypes take you from ungrounded talk to action-focused conversations. That’s the first step to getting stuff done.