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Prototype Ideation & Exercise

Lesson 10 from: FAST CLASS: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

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Lesson Info

10. Prototype Ideation & Exercise

Lesson Info

Prototype Ideation & Exercise

We're gonna prototype something from the Odyssey plans that you guys have already completed. So remember when we were talking about Anne's plan, and she was curious about writing a book and going back to school, those are two things she was interested like, what would it be? If I tried that if I tried a little piece of that, what would that be like? So we're gonna go through this with your Odyssey plans. What I'd like you to do right now is just start thinking about getting a little bit curious. One or two things on your plans that you might like to prototype, and we're gonna show you exactly how to do this. But start take out your plans. And think about what might be on that list. I know you've got 15 years worth of ideas sitting in front of you. And we're saying just pick out one or two, no more than three things like yeah, I would really like to know more about this. I'm curious about this. That's the critical question. Yeah will show you how to frame that question. We're right ...

there between ideation and prototyping. We wanna come up with some things you wanna prototype. And then we're gonna show you how to generate lots of ideas so that when you go out to prototype them, you have more than one idea for how you will get to a little bit of an experience or conversation about the thing you're curious about. So a lot of people when they learn brainstorming or something, they just do it. They just brainstorm. And that's not actually as useful as it could be we've done a lot of research on how to have better and more ideas. And really, we break it into sort of four steps, okay. You can't have a good idea if you have a bad question. So we're going to work a little bit on this idea of framing a good question, what would be a good thing to prototype? You don't want it to be too broad. You don't want it to be too narrow. It's gotta be open-ended. It's gotta have the possibility of a generative answer. And we'll help you frame that question from the things that you're curious about in your plan. Then, really importantly, you gotta warm up. I don't know about you, but if I've just come from a budget meeting, and that's just come from the faculty meeting, where were you arguing about who use the copier didn't write down the number of copies they did. Crazy stuff, you might not be in your most creative mode or mood, and you really do need to move from the analytic and rational side of your brain to the synthesis and sort of opening creative side of your brain, so we do a lot of warm up exercises, we're gonna do one here in just a second. Then ideate, the idea of deferring judgment and going for lots of ideas. That little diagram Dave showed you the little sensor, who's in there saying, Oh, no, these ideas are not safe, don't have them, we need to get rid of that sensor. And so we're going to do a group process to ideate on your prototype ideas. And then the best thing is, I've noticed that a lot of times teams do pretty good ideation. But when it comes to picking an idea, they pick the thing that's safe or easy or the one they know how to do. And that's hardly ever the one that's gonna teach you the most, or the ones you're most curious about. So we're gonna pick some different criteria for selecting ideas. Now, if you just do the ideation part, and you don't select ideas, you don't make them actionable. It's really not useful. So this is the part where, I really want you to sort of kind of follow along with us in this process. Have you been in a brainstorm me... (indistinct) done a brainstorming session, you're gonna brainstorm. And it ended with a wall covered with posted notes. And somebody gets out their iPhone and they take a picture of the posted notes, and they post it on the website and then that's it. And now we waste a lot of posted notes and we don't know what to do. That is not brainstorming, that's posted wastage. Okay, so that's not what we're doing. And that's why that fourth step is so crucial. And my contention is cell phones are where ideas go to die. No one ever looks at that picture again, right? Because you can't tell anything from the picture of all those things. So framing a good question. Let's say, let's talk about framing a question. When we were talking about Anna and she was thinking about going back to school, she could have asked a bunch of different questions. Well, what's college like now? I haven't been to college in 20 years. Do I enjoy... Do I still enjoy studying while I enjoy studying hard? How's that going to be for me? Those are pretty generative questions Is grad school really necessary?. Well that texting not a prototypeable question, you just go look it up. what I wanna do, do I need a degree for that? Yes or no? It doesn't require an innovative or generative process. Should I really do this? The question about the outcome. The first two questions are really about process. What's it like? How will it work for me? Should I really do this? That's not a process question. That's an outcome question. You can't prototype should I really do this because Its a decision its not a prototype Its is a decision you will make based on the experiences you have from the other prototypes. Will the younger students really hate me?. Well, that's again, that's not something that you can decide in your head, you're going to have to figure that out by just being there. So what our sense is that, how many ways Could I prototype the experience of studying seriously again? is the kind of generative question that would lead to, oh, I can think of five things I could do to find out more about that question. My curiosity would lead me to prototyping around that question. She also had the idea of writing a book and we said you could do a bunch of things, you could ask others people who've written a book, what was that like? you could you could go talk to writers and find out how they write. You can go to a Writers Workshop something short like a weekend. Will, I like being an author. Well that's another one of those questions where you're just not going to know until you do it. That's not prototypeable Should I really do this again? is not prototypeable That question always comes up. That's a decision. So in order to frame a good question, we want to make sure you're framing a question that you can actually get some data on, can I pull this off money and stuff?. That's a planning problem, that's not a prototype. How many ways Could I prototype the experience of seriously writing? Is the generative question that frames are really good brainstorm, and then lots and lots of options to try things, Okay? So you're looking again for a conversation or an experience. It's not about making a decision that will come when you have data, you'll get the data from the conversation or experience and making the decision deciding whether you will or not like something, the only way to understand that coz that's about what will I be like in the future. Is to try something that you can experience and get some inclination of whether or not that's gonna fit for you. So if we get a good question, then we can absolutely ideate something that's gonna be fantastic in terms of prototypes that we can really try. And literally, you could try them tomorrow, this weekend, sometime(indistinct) remember I said prototypes has to be fast and cheap to construct, and they got to teach you something. So they have to be actionable in the world Okay, so we're gonna be handing out our ideation worksheet. We want you to get a good framing questions, select one element, or you just circled two or three things maybe on your plan, just select one that you think is sort of an interesting one, something that your the most curious about, Like to learn about, not necessarily something that you know how to learn about, it's not about something that will be easy, but something that you're curious about, what would it be like?. How would I discover more about?. And we got to frame a question that's not not an outcome or decision, but it's an exploration, It's a process. And an example of(indistinct) she asked herself... She tried a couple of times what question Do I really want to ask myself about this being a writer, this becoming a student again? And then I'm gonna get to the really good question. That's the one that would really help me focus in on what I'm trying to do. That's what we gonna have you do right now. Is just you fill out that top line, frame up a question that you think is generative and prototypeable So that's the topic and then you put the questions underneath that. Now right under that framing question, how many ways might I prototype that experience? That's what templated the first part of the question for you. Again, the focus is on the experience that I'm trying to have not the answer. I'm not making a decision, I'm gathering experiences and insights that will inform my decision later. So here's the ideation exercise, you're going to help each other, build off of the ideas that you already have. So you have your framing question. Flip your piece of paper over, I believe, yes. On the backside Pick one of your questions you wrote two or three. pick the one that you think is the most open-ended. That's gonna give you the most creative answers. This is my prototype framing question is. How do I learn about being an author? How do I discover what it's like to find an agent? How do I like to live in New York? Or what would it be like to live in New York for a year? so put that at the top, Okay. You're the owner of this piece of paper. You've written your framing question down. And now you actually get a chance to do a little bit of your own brainstorming. I want you to write down two or three ways that you could actually prototype. how would I... I can't move to New York that's not prototyping living in New York. But I could talk to Dave because I understand Dave does an entrepreneur in residence thing in New York every... Spring, Every spring So he goes to New York and he finds a place to live. I talk to him, I have a prototype conversation with Dave about living in New York. That's one idea. Oh, I have a friend who's really a New Yorker grew up in Brooklyn, I talked to her find out what she thinks Binge watch six New York movies all night, I could binge watch six mov... I could watch Manhattan over and over and over again. If you don't like Woody Allen, that wouldn't work for you. So write down a couple of those, Okay. Now here's what we're gonna do. Normally, one way to do brainstorming is you we all go up to a board and we just start putting up ideas. And the idea of brainstorming is really to build off the ideas of others. But what we're gonna do is another way to do brainstorming, I don't know if you've done this before, where you're gonna now take that piece of paper gotta a couple ideas on it? 2,3,4,5 ideas. Everybody got some? You know all your collaborators. You've got five collaborators Things that could be prototypes they could be good or bad. There's no judgement Prototype conversations, don't forget No judgment, all kinds of different people you could talk to about the topic. So one idea is not talked to somebody. that's like, talking to somebody who grew up there, talk to somebody who just moved back from there, talk to somebody who goes there and vacation. That's three conversations, right? So lots of different kinds of people you can talk to Our take take away on this is prototypes, really our way of sneaking up on the future. I don't know what it would like to be this person. But someone... Have you ever heard the expression, "The future is already here "It's just unevenly distributed". So William Gibson quoted science fiction writers, like "The future is already here". Someone is doing the thing you want to do. They're 10 years into that career, and they're loving it. And if you could just have their story, to find out how did you get here? What did you do? And you have to ask for the story. I just was in an email conversation with somebody who found us online and he said, I know you won't answer this email, but I've been trying to have information, conversations with people and I keep getting shut down. And I said, all right, I never answer these questions. What are you doing? He says, Well, here's my email. It says, I want to talk to you. That's the subject. I said, Do you think demanding that conversation with people is the right way to go? How about something a little more interesting? Like I saw your YouTube thing? I'm really an admirer, could I just chat with you for it? Could I not even ask, It's just I'm an admirer. Then I open it and he went make the ask. So it's just asking for a story. It's a little tiny step where you would learn something. It's a way of sneaking up on the future 'cause someone's already living there. And if you do it a lot, it'll work about 70% of the time and the times where it doesn't work. You learn something, you learn something about your approach or something about the people you were trying to talk to. And it's this notion that we mentioned before. It's okay. There's no such thing as a prototype that fails. I thought dentistry would be interesting. I talked to a dentist he said, I want to kill myself, this is the worst thing I ever did. Did I learned something? Yeah, I learned something. I just learned that that might be an unhappy person. But I also have a chance to then go deeper with the next person and the next person. I build up this database of experiences and conversations. And now I know a little bit more about what's going on. And I don't fear failure. This idea of fear being the thing shame or fear being the thing that holds us back, have really simple easy conversations, you know somebody who knows something about this? So if you can prototype your way forward, is to build your way forward idea. You can always find yourself in a new place. For people it's often like boy, I'm not really live this way. I'm not sure I really get it, the prototype thing sounds a little different. It might be easier to understand why what happens when you don't prototype which were very common. So a woman we know. We'll call her Elise, jumped into starting she decided she was going to go for it and follow her passion, make the big change and start a restaurant and deli. She'd always love Tuscan food and was convinced that Italian food, well prepared, in the right setting, really facilitated wonderful conversations. It was a social. It was just fabulous community and so the food's good. And the social thing is good. This is the thing to do. And I'm gonna go for it coz I have a passion. Its a real story, Jumped out of her career, spent a bunch of money, bought into a place totally remodels it. Puts together a bunch of recipes, puts together a menu, sets up all it's both a deli where you can buy things and a little cafe where you can get food real time, fabulous coffee, the whole thing opens it. And of course, maybe the failure rate in restaurants is horrible. She's successful right out of the box. This thing works great, Wow. Except she hates it. Because running a restaurant is totally different than planning one or imagining one I mean, running and being my Tuscan summer in your head is a whole lot different than actually every single day showing up and checking the shopping list and hiring 18 year olds who quit every other week and you got to retrain them all but no. And I cook that thing last week. I have to cook it again. Yep for the rest of your life. Oh my god, what have I done? Now we talked to her after the fact and said maybe I should have prototyped yeah, like you could have gotten a job briefly as a waitress in a restaurant like that to see if it really works? How about catering? You can do that for a weekend, you dont have to like pay rent for a year to even find out if it works, you could shut that thing down. Lots of ways you could experience doing this without buying the farm or selling the farm. So sneaking up on small ways of not over committing prematurely. We find this is true in a lot of cases where people say, you know, what I really want to do is, and it turned out what she loved was the design of that experience. Not running that experience running a restaurant, it's kind of hard. Designing restaurants is a pretty interesting thing. By the way. She sold the restaurant. Yeah, now she's on she's okay. She's okay. She's on to a new thing So prototype is a good thing to do. So, we did our odyssey planning. We're doing some planning, and we've had all these ideas and tools, but you know what, I was kind of hoping you were gonna help me find a job and we haven't even talked about jobs. Oh, yeah, this must be a practical course. Now, all this design stuff like great. That's great. That's great. I need a job.

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