Friday, September 23, 2011

Walking An Audience Through A Prototype Is Like Peeling The Layers Of An Onion

I was showing a new concept prototype to twelve top American customers last week to get their thoughts. One of my customers, who has seen the demo several times walked up to me and shared something interesting with me. He said that when he sees my demo he feels like the layers of an onion are being peeled off one by one. With each layer he understands more of the concept.

I realize that the design of the prototype and the story that accompanies it should be carefully done to reveal all the concepts of a product one by one in the order you want to reveal them. It also helps a lot if the design principles are stated up front in under a minute and the concepts covered are recapped at the end of the demo.

For example when I start demonstrating Career OnDemand, I usually start by saying that the design principles that guided the team were 'people centricity', 'networking and collaboration at the core' and 'instant insight for all'.

When I am done demonstrating the Career OnDemand prototype, I always recap the demo by saying that we started with goals, talked about the activities that helped a person accomplish that goal, saw the feedback a person received in the context of a goal and then looked at how he relied on collective intelligence from his network of people to accomplish that goal.

I have said this more or less 170 times to customers, partners and colleagues over the past 18 months. With every iteration the product and the pitch gets better and better. I do goof up once in a while. Some times I get distracted by a customer question and fail to cover a concept. Sometimes, someone interrupts the sessions and I lose my focus.  But I never fail to learn in these sessions. It is amazing.

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