Transformation Approach: Prototype
- 7 July 2015
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: Archive
The next phase will Prototype and Refine the ideas coming out of the Define phase with service users and frontline staff. Prototyping is often a low cost approach to assessing the value of a design. You should expect that a prototype may not be suitable the first time you test it, and that your design activity may be an iterative process of testing, amending and re-testing.
The main objectives of the Prototype phase are to:
- Develop a brief or outline of the service designed in the Define stage explaining how it will work and what outcomes it should deliver
- Test the service with end users and frontline staff to find out what works, and what doesn’t
- Amend and retest the service model until you have a service ready to test by implementation
This image from NESTA’s Prototyping Public Services guide, shows where prototyping can help in the development of a new or transformed service.
A prototype can help you test your assumptions about the following elements of a service:
- Roles & skills
You must complete this work before you can:
- Test your new model by implementing and evaluating how it works with a limited cohort
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of the model so that stakeholders will invest in scaling up or out
- Develop the initial brief into a product or service for implementation. Having identified and developed your service focus and the outcomes it will produce in the Define stage, describe the service for prototyping
- Prototype the model by sharing blueprints, developing a “model office” for people to walkthrough or setting up scenario testing
- Identify data sharing requirements. These may not be fully addressed in the prototype but will be required before you proceed to delivery. It’s good to get an idea of what you will need to share at this stage to begin exploring and issues or challenges early on
- Amend the model based on feedback from users, frontline staff and partners. You may need to repeat your prototyping activities iteratively to ensure any amended designs fit the brief AND work for users and frontline staff.
Prototyping can be as simple as walking though a service interaction or as complex as developing a “living lab” to fully test an approach to addressing a complex issue
Safe to Fail not fail-safe: Doing this type of testing in a “safe to fail” environment allows you to check assumptions quickly and cheaply. It provides added assurance that the model will, or won’t, work in practice. It’s as important to find out what doesn’t work early on as to discover what does. Prototyping allows you to progress to cost/benefit analysis knowing you have a potentially effective model to implement.
1st published on Public Service Transformation Network website, 3 Aug 2015