The Prototype Approach

Prototype creation concept
Start small with a winning prototype before moving on. From ッ Zach Hoeken ッ’s Flickr Photostream.

There’s an illusion that throws many people off of their game to success. They see the end results and equate success with instant wins if they can find the shortcut. They don’t think in terms of process. Process is what typically gets the success. Knowing the steps and doing them without exception each day is the soil that eventually produces the crop.

Whatever you may be pursuing has a large amount of uncertainty involved. To combat this reality, it is better to think small and work on a prototype rather than shoot for the stars. This allows your failures to be small and used for learning. The prototype approach can mean sending articles to ten trusted people first for a couple months and honing your content. It can mean designing software for five end users that work specifically for them with the broader market in the back of your mind.

The process of working small and testing against a small audience allows you to make adjustments for the larger crowd you want to pursue. It may take a while in this phase, but if you look at success, it is highly non-linear in so many cases. There is a tipping point which comes from the momentum built over time from repeated failures, corrections and small successes.

Working with a prototype for a smaller group should not compromise your broader vision. If a small audience provides a heavily biased and weighted opinion that does not scale to a broader vision, you will also have to use discernment on what to ignore or tweak. Your long-term goal is not to serve the prototype indefinitely. It is to use the feedback for serving a larger purpose.

The hard work and attention to detail is part of the process working in a prototype approach. Don’t circumvent the learning. Process pays off over time.

How can you apply this?

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