Improvise to experiment

“Improvise to experiment” was the key message Jeremy Utley & Perry Klebahn wanted to send when it comes to design thinking and bringing some fresh air to your work.

“Design thinking” term became quite popular recently, but still would be a good thing to define it: it’s something like thinking out of the boxes, simply because the whole world has changed a lot in the past few years, but many of us work in a quite “old-school” manner. The workshop took place in Stanford University and was free to attend online; so it was quite a nice start of my Stanford experience.

I am going to mark the most important conclusions and why they are so important, when it comes to bring some experimentation to your daily routine:

Create a prototype

If you need to create a prototype, you should do it right. The traditional way may include creating a new procedure within a big company, that includes interaction between couple of departments and many people. It might take about 6 months to be created, because there are traditional phases like R&D, testing, producing, HRing etc… Total waste of time! Why would you spend a lot of money and time on something that doesn’t work after all? Because you are used to work this way. Wrong answer!

The right way: improvisation. Every day.

If you ask yourself and your team “Can we build it (technically)?”, then you are concentrating on the wrong side of the problem. What is more important is “would it matter to people if we built it?”

A good way to build a prototype would be to create an alternative world where your solution exists and discuss it with strangers, real people who would give you feedback right away. Use things that already exist to test the idea and the interaction (if you want to build an interaction tool, try using one similar to it like Google Hangout, Skype, or even a group on facebook to see if people need such a tool). Invite people not familiar with you and your team, to check out viable feedback about your thing and improvise with them, put them in different situation and discuss the outcome. Try to understand their “real world”.


It’s just that prototype should be the first thing you do. It’s not about the validation of your idea, but the learning. This is why it would be better to do this before building a team around that project.

The three key conclusions of the workshop were quite simple, but sufficient:

“Improvisation is a viable way to develop a concept”;

” Inviting an outsider into your improvised world enhances your development cycle”;


“Openness is critical to developing a concept that matters”.


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