Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This One's a "10"

As we approach the end of 2016, many "top ten" lists have begun to appear. They offer the best and worst of a multitude of items, people, words, and ideas.

In fact, the number 10 itself purportedly has mystical qualities, such as symbolizing the completion of a cycle.

Rudy Mutter, the CTO at Yeti (a development and design studio in San Francisco) recently published a white paper titled The Ultimate Guide to Prototyping Success. As a design thinking learner, I downloaded and read it.

Toward the end of the paper, Mutter provides his top ten tips for successful prototyping. I thought to myself, "here we go -- another list of ten!" BUT...as I was reading through them, it struck me that they apply much more broadly than to just prototyping.

They really apply to the whole realm of education innovation. AND... if the number 10 really does symbolize the completion of a cycle, then it is the perfect number through which to look at education innovation.

Here are Mutter's prototyping tips, verbatim in title, with my own spin attached:

1. Identify your riskiest assumption.
Do you have a real problem, or do you have a really cool solution that is looking for a problem to solve? In other words, are my students actually experiencing the problem I am seeking to solve? Do they actually need this solution? Or, are my assumptions perhaps flawed?

2. Don't commit to one solution.
You do need to try solutions one at a time, but if you cannot be married to just one of them. If you are, you will look for ways to justify it. See #5.

3. Don't get lost in the details; simplicity is key.
Too complicated and you'll never make progress, or maybe even get started. You still need to be intentional and have a plan, but you also need to be action-oriented.

4. Utilize everything at your disposal.
Shortcuts are okay, unless they cheat you out of learning. The reason we want to innovate is to enhance student learning, but you have to be the original learner.

5. Be willing to throw it away.
See #2. Try it, evaluate its impact on student learning, and let it go if it doesn't work. The idea failed, not you.

6. 'Iterate' can't be reiterated enough.
We need cycles of inquiry. I repeat, we need cycles of inquiry. See #8.

7. Give every side a voice.
Is everyone at the table? If not, invite them into the process. Is everyone at the table actively participating? if not, invite them into the conversation and the work. An echo chamber serves no one.

8. Done is better than perfect.
The iterative cycles are meant to be completed in a timely manner, so that the learning continues. See #6.

9. Go with what you know.
Don't mix apples and oranges. If you're looking to solve a problem with reading literacy, don't use this process to try out a new tech tool, unless it is crucial to the process. Stick with frameworks and processes you know, and let the innovation be the variable.

10. Feedback is king.
The feedback loop is crucial for reflective practice and learning. And the next iteration.

Join the conversation...
What do you think about those ten? What would you add? Take away?

As always, thanks for thinking with me.

P.S. If you want more fun with the number 10, read The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley.

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