In Stage 2, we learned the Faith Entrepreneur can confidently apply Basic Project Management (PM) Techniques to design Social Projects. We further introduced the basic PM tools every Social Entrepreneur should know.
Once you’ve carefully organized the stages of your project or idea with PM tools, the next stage of the Design phase is to develop a Prototype.
A Prototype ‘‘is a rough model or presentation of a project idea; it is not yet a finished product, but it contains enough information to attract or convince other stakeholders about an idea and helps in evaluating one’s inventions’’ (Houde & Hill, 1997). Prototypes are tangible representations of your idea (MASHLM, 2017).
Prototypes depend on the kind of project – meaning there’re different types of Prototype. They can be simple sketches, diagrams, stories, pictures, representations, videos, demonstration project or complex structures such as machines, software, hardware, equipment, etc.
For our Cedrela Tree Planting Project in Cameroon, our prototype was a demonstration farm. We planted hundreds of Cedrela trees on a piece of land. Below is a picture of the prototype:
Cedrela Project – Demonstration farm in Woteva Village, Pic taken by Samuel, 2019
The main reason for developing a Prototype is to learn and ameliorate your project design in order to generate a robust project or product in the end. After developing the prototype, the Faith Entrepreneur collects Feedback and observes lapses especially from the main beneficiaries of the idea and incorporate them into the final design process prior to implementation in the field.
After a field visit to the demonstration farms, the local inhabitants provided feedback on appropriate ways the project should be implemented in the area.
Prototyping is conducted in many ways including but not limited to:-
- Organizing workshops where the main experts brainstorm to develop the product.
- Ideation – the initiators of the projects propose different designs. These will be evaluated and the most effective and efficient approaches chosen.
- Brainstorming meetings – project initiators meet and decide the type of prototype which fits the project and the design pattern.
For our Social Innovation Workshops in Cameroon, we adopted the following steps to design prototypes to the project ideas which were generated by participants during the workshops:
- We Created groups of five to ten people.
- Each group worked on a single project or idea.
- Group participants provided inputs on how the prototype for their project should be developed.
- The most effective inputs were selected based on three main criteria (feasibility, cost-effectiveness and impact).
- The groups developed their prototypes and presented their ideas.
- Those ideas and design patterns were examined further by the other groups.
- Participants collected feedback and considered them to develop the final project or idea to implement in the field.
Below are examples of two groups and their prototypes:
Social Innovation Workshops, Woteva Cameroon – Prototyping – Water Catchment Project, 2017
Social Innovation Workshops, Woteva Cameroon – Prototyping – Corn Transformation, 2017
In Social Projects, a Prototype is necessary after the preliminary design of your project or idea. Its main role is to help you learn more about how you can further design your project idea to arrive at a final robust product. It’s important to note there’re many ways to develop a prototype and design one which best fits your idea.
In the next Stage, we’ll discover how we present our prototype and make use of the feedback we generate from interested stakeholders.
Please share this information with Social Entrepreneurs in your community