Defining a Prototyping Mindset

For the last two weeks the students at the Adianta School for Leadership and Innovation, have been participants in the Hard Prototyping workshop sessions led by Akshat Raghava, independent designer and co-founder of the Indian Design Company. The students made prototypes for portable storage units, multi-purpose furniture, luggage-top laptop stands, websites as well as collapsible solutions for small home units. Come January, the students will be developing digital product solutions, through the Digital Product Development module spearheaded by the Civic Labs. These solutions will look specifically at tying together citizen and government perspectives, to ultimately improve the delivery of urban public services. Through the module, the students will apply the underlying values of prototyping to a process of problem solving in urban governance. In order to have that clearly defined, we ended the prototyping workshop with a simple question, ‘how would you define the prototying mindset?‘ Here is what I heard them say.


• be open minded
• brainstorm. more ideas = better ideas
• work in teams, but listen to your team members. they will steer you away from an
• obsession with your ideas
• define tasks within a team
• the faster you move the more opportunity you have to fail and pick up again
• learn how to improvise, because you can’t control everything
• everything is possible, don’t stop, keep going
• find alternative solutions to problems that persist during a process
• work with pre-existing structures
• visualizing or sketching your idea is important
• define the core value of your product, and along with it, the function of each element
• always focus on the important aspects of your prototype, but consider the design of hidden elements
• a prototype is more powerful than a concept, and even more so, if they speak for themselves
• be prepared for your assumptions to be proven wrong, even if that is assumptions about how long it takes you to do something
• manage your time.
• Iterate
• have questions that you are seeking the answers to, choose your material accordingly
• know what ideas to take forward
• work together to make decisions with integrity
• prioritize

What emerged reads much like a manifesto for product development, and we’re excited to see how it follows through over the next two months. Perhaps we will even add to or modify this list. If you have any ideas on how already, do send them along! We’d love to hear from you.

About Namrata Mehta

Namrata Mehta or @littlenemrut, is Director of Innovation at the Center for Knowledge Societies, New Delhi. She has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Delhi University, and a postgraduate diploma in Experimental Media Arts, from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.
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