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Prototyping for Creative Confidence

What does prototyping have to do with creative confidence? As we saw in our Creative Confidence Challenge, it turns out maybe more than we'd think.

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Tom and David Kelley, in their new book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, define creative confidence simply as the ability to come up with new ideas and the courage to try them out.

During our Creative Confidence Challenge, we asked our global community to design ideas that would inspire young people to cultivate their own creative confidence. We had a hunch our community would come up with surprising, fun and inspiring ways to do just that – and like always, you impressed us with your fresh thinking and collaborative efforts. What we didn't expect, though, was that some of our community members might flex their own creative confidence muscles in the process.

It turns out that prototyping – creating a rough, yet tangible version of your idea to share with potential end-users, gather feedback and test your own assumptions – is a perfect activity for building creative confidence. And, as many of our community members involved in this challenge demonstrated, it's one we were ready to start practicing.

In fact this challenge saw unprecedented numbers of folks building and testing their prototypes out in the communities where we live. For Olivia and the team behind The Electronster, the goal was to try out their idea – a mobile lab where students learn to disassemble and reassemble electronics – with a wide range of user groups. Over the course of the challenge, the team ran three prototype sessions with young people ranging in age (9-13) and group size (from 1 student on his own to groups of 20). Varying the number of end users involved in the prototype helped the team uncover important insights that informed their final design. For instance, at one point early on the team questioned whether kids needed to break apart the electronics in order to get creative with putting them back together. Through prototyping the team learned that "destruction [of the electronics] is a critical element" because it "gave kids the license and confidence to break rules and try new things." 

In The Play Portal – an online space for kids to play games that help them tap into their creative potential – Christopher and his team set the goal of prototyping with a diverse set of young people. In this case, the size of the group didn't matter, but diversity did. Christopher was able to prototype some of his early ideas with a classroom near him in New York, but by reaching out to the global OpenIDEO community and asking for support, he was able to connect with Manya, who offered to prototype the games in India as well. In both cases, Christopher uploaded video content from the prototypes to the platform to help the entire OpenIDEO community visualise what these prototypes looked like – and the enthusiasm the young children had while playing. 

For Vishal, prototyping his idea was less about end user feedback and more about creating a minimum viable product that could be tested and refined. His Creative Confidence Here website – an online hub of resources and tools for creative confidence – was a great idea from the start but it instantly came to life once Vishal built his first iteration. And, thanks to community comments and feedback, Vishal was able to update his website prototype in real time, incorporating refinements on the spot.

Whether it was creating tools to help each other interview end users (like Brad's SelfStyle downloadable research kit), using a laser-cutter to engineer a working model (like Vicki's THXCube) or something in between, our community took prototyping – and building creative confidence – to a new level in this challenge. We're excited to see how we can build on these prototyping learnings and successes in a future OpenIDEO challenge! 

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Photo of Maira Khan

During this Creative Confidence Challenge, they asked global community to design ideas that would inspire young people to cultivate their own creative confidence. They had a hunch community would come up with surprising, fun and inspiring ways to do just that – and like always,they with fresh thinking and collaborative efforts. What they didn't expect, though, was that some of their community members might flex their own creative confidence muscles in the process.

Photo of Maira Khan

Awesome idea! Look g forward working with you ��

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Photo of Arushi gupta


Photo of Arushi gupta


Photo of David Berlekamp

It's been a weird trip, from watching a playlist of TED videos, one of which featured David Kelly talking about building creative confidence, to trying to find contact info for David, to finding IDEO.

The best part is, I have just begun thinking about prototyping. I've had ideas my whole life, and the closest thing I've ever done to making a prototype invention was playing with Lego. Sadly, I failed to pursue it as a dream, largely because of self-esteem issues, until 3 months ago I finally broke through.

Since then, I've had more fun prototyping in my head than I ever did playing with Lego. I'm lucky enough to be able to think 3-dimensionally, but after a while, I wanted to TOUCH my ideas. I wanted to feel them in my hands and be able to see if my assumptions about their use were correct.

Learning how to prototype at all, turning ideas into physical, usable objects or software or ideas, is such a complex playground. There's chemistry and electronics, design work and tooling, molding and stamping, software for making stuff and making software that does stuff.

I realized that creating is easier when you involve others. Experts in a specific field, other creative minds like my own, and even nay-sayers who make me look and relook and re-relook at my ideas until even they don't have a complaint left.

So then I started to play with the idea of crowdsource prototyping. I know we've had think tanks and companies hire people because they can make ideas happen. But to actually create forums, voice chat, and even virtual labs that allow groups of people to let their minds loose and create, bouncing ideas off each other. It's the kind of mental jam sessions that ancient philosophers only dreamed of being able to have, with hundreds or thousands of people.

Thus, finding IDEO seems like an ideal place to be. I cannot express my gratitude that someone beat me to this idea, so that I can utilize it now instead of dreaming about how it might work.

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Iam a new member and to see the effects of the wonderful initiatives taken by everyone here is applauding. Prototyping hence brings better varied results providing indepth in every field.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Welcome Soumya! And indeed – we're huge fans of prototyping here at OpenIDEO. Here's some tips to help you give it a go with your own ideas: We hope you'll be joining us for our upcoming challenge.

Photo of Nicole Santarsiero

Very interesting prototyping! I would be curious to see if there is been any types of performance measurements conducted to see what type of impact these initiatives are having.