Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Rapid Prototype for an Important Customer

At work, my colleagues at the SAP Design Services Team, follow and evangelize a design methodology called "Make to Think" and "Think To Make". When I was called in by my most important customer (my wife) to provide my design ideas for a mission critical project, the design of tiles in our bathroom, I decided to apply my training by the Design Services Team of SAP and the expertise I acquired by working with them to the job.

Instead of developing a design strategy and making a presentation to her (which normally does not go very well), I invited her to join me in creating a prototype. We created a full size prototype with news paper and tape to visualize our bathroom tile design. By participating in the design process, we created something that both of us were invested in.  Instead of suggesting a design, I invited her to create a design by placing the 'accent tiles' on the wall and quickly experiment with multiple placements and layouts.




The prototype was done within two hours on a Sunday evening. It was rough and yet helped us make very important emotional, personal and spending decisions. This has been most important pay back so far from my Wall Street Journal subscription.

By the way, this approach might work well for less important things like multi-million dollar, multi year software projects.

Update two weeks later
The end product resulted remarkably close to the original design
The paper prototype was even more remarkable than I thought it would be. Our tile contractor used it as the "design document" and always referred back to the "document". Even though I did not articulate many things to him, he understood my intentions and we used the paper prototype as an object of discussion. We kept the conversation about the prototype and not about each others skills. (My design skills and his craftsmanship.)

Some work-in-progress pictures and finished product pictures to compare the "design document" with the final result. This is the picture at the end of week 1. We referred back to the paper prototype to make some decisions











If you are in the San Francisco Bay area and want to use the services of this tile contractor who did this job, here are the details. He works for himself and is a good craftsman.

JLM Custom Tile2138 Quito Road, San Jose, CA 95130-1929(408) 866-1937
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