Prototypes, Visuals, and Taking Concepts to Reality

I know I shouldn’t be as excited as I am, but I can’t help it. Making something that was ethereal, theoretical into something physical and tangible is, well, exciting. Last week, I got my book in the mail. Not just any book, but my book. The moment I clicked “buy” on, the hundreds of pages of text that once languished on a hard drive in my basement went from being a project-on-hold to being something real.

Back up a second for those who don’t know; a few years ago – before child number one was born – I put my career on hold for a year to work full time on a novel that had been a part time passion for a while before that. In that year, I sweat blood (not literally…that would have ruined a lot of shirts) and slaved away hammering out a sprawling manuscript that I hoped would capture a lot of the ideas I was struggling with at the time. When the year was done, I had a tome which no other eyes had seen, and a year of lost income and a baby on the way…tough math for a dad-to-be.

Frustrated with the product, an editing process that was more than I bargained for and the sudden need for income, I shelved the project, convinced of the need for a rewrite.

And it sat. For two years. No one talked to me much about it. Everyone knew the work that had gone into writing that book…but what came of it?

Here’s where it gets interesting. At a workshop with Dave Gray, I heard about, and within days, posted my manuscript and ordered a copy of my own book. Just that process got me excited.

But then it arrived, and suddenly people around me wanted to read it. It had become something accessible, physical…real. I even got excited about it…MY BOOK! I felt pride, and a feeling that it had finally been externalized; no longer rattling in my head. And that’s when I realized that what I’d really done was to create a prototype of my book. And just like that, you have something to show people. Family started to get excited…and more than anything else, it’s now getting read.

This has been a fascinating parallel to the other area I’m working in; the visualization of processes and problems that clients are struggling with. The whole visualization process is – I think – like a prototype; giving people something tangible they can relate to and understand, rather than something abstract which they can’t kick the tires on and imagine.

So much work is put into things which can’t be seen by others, and consequently it can often languish in a netherworld of indifference and incomprehension. Nobody wants to see your shoebox full of half-baked ideas, but hand them something recognizable and the game changes completely. It can be as simple as binding your book or drawing a picture of what you’re talking about, but one thing I know for sure:

Prototypes matter.


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