by Arlene Minkiewicz
| September 25, 2014
This week I’m attending the Better Software Conference in Vegas. I just attended a great keynote given by Patrick Copeland of Google. The topic was innovation. He talked about how innovators beat ideas, prototypes beat prototypes and data beats opinions. These sentiments are all part of the pretotyping manifesto.
He started with the truth that most new products and services fail and proposed that while this is not unexpected, there is a good way to fail and a bad way to fail. The good way to fail is to fail fast. And this is where the idea of pretotyping comes in. The idea of pretotyping or ‘pretendotyping’ is that you fake it before more make. When a good idea hits, find the fastest, cheapest way to get something that will demonstrate and socialize the idea to at least some segment of the target marked. A pretotype is different than a prototype in that a prototype is intended to prove that the product can be built, while a pretotype is intended to prove that the ‘it’ you’re building is the right ‘it’.
One example presented where pretotyping would have helped. Thirsty Dog Bottled Water for Pets - no I’m not messing with you – this product was actually launched and marketed. Maybe if there had been some pretotyping – taking some regular bottle water, changing the label and putting on the shelves in a few pet stores – the producers would have realized that this was an idea that wouldn’t fly.