This is a tool by the Presencing Institute and part of the Theory U methodology. You can also find other Theory U tools in our toolbox (just search for ‘Theory U’) and on the website of Presencing Institute.

The purpose of prototyping is to create a microcosm that allows you to explore the future by doing. Prototypes work on the principle of “failing early to learn quickly.” (see IDEO.com)

Prototyping moves an idea or innovation into a concrete next step. After a group goes through the left side of the U-process and completes the sensing and presencing stage, the next step allows the group to crystallize ideas and prototype them. Prototyping translates an idea or a concept into concrete action. Prototypes are an early draft of what the final result might look like which means that they often go through several iterations based on the feedback generated from stakeholders.

The prototype is not meant to be the final product but it allows you to generate valuable feedback from stakeholders. This feedback is then the basis for refining the concept and its underlying assumptions. A prototype is a practical and tested mini-version of what later could become a pilot project that can be shared and eventually scaled.

The process of prototyping is a mini U in itself and follows the three stages of Co-Sensing, Co- Inspiring, and Co-Creating.

This tool takes you by the hand with:

  • guiding principles
  • steps to follow
  • a full database with real prototypes that are uploaded by members, including lots of information on the prototypes and the ability to ask a question, contribute skills, expertise, and ideas.
  • the option to add your own prototype to the database, and to receive ideas, expertise, and help.

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