How to start prototyping in your organization

It’s not always easy to start a change in an organization. Especially in a huge organization with lots of hierarchical layers. How do we get all the employees to embrace the change? How can we handle the communications? Just 2 (of a lot of) questions that need to be answered. But change can be easy(/easier) if you stick on to the quote “dream big, act small”.

The age of long term organizational change plans is over. Documents full of ‘assumptions’ and recommendations based on theory and not the practice. It’s time to turn it around. Only really change things that are proven successful in your organization. Meet: prototyping, or in this case organizational prototyping.

What is organizational prototyping?

According to Wikipedia a prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. In the context of organizational change, it is an early sample of improvement within the organization. An idea, a hunch, or just an improvement. Without fully document and plan this change, first prototype it. And learn if this really an improvement or just a nice idea without any engagement with the employees. But how do you start?

Start prototyping

You don’t just start with a creative session to design prototypes. You first have to know why you want to change and what theme you need to focus on first. In my client work, I use The Engagement Canvas to find the theme that is most pressing for the client at that point. I will write a blog post on this Canvas later on.

Once you have the theme you want to focus on. It’s really key to understand what is going on and why improvement is necessary. Look through the lens of your employees and learn from it. Preferably you include a couple of employees in your change team.

Now it’s time to dive into idea generation. In workshop or brainstorm kind of settings you are able to generate a lot of ideas, on post-its. It can be very helpful to get inspired! Here are the latest prototypes on our platform. But make sure to explore through our complete listing.


Latest practices

Now use the Canvas

When you have enough ideas, it’s time to prioritize and start designing the actual prototypes. Make sure to keep the prototypes small and tangible. To help you out a little bit, here are some ingredients we use for a good prototype:

  • A clear purpose
  • Small scope
  • Set the testperiod
  • Target group (demographics)
  • KPI (Key Performance Indicators)
  • When is it a success?
Make sure to download the Canvas to help you guide in the process of designing your ultimate organizational prototype.


The Canvas

Use the canvas to turn great ideas into real tangible organizational prototypes. It’s Free.

Learn more
prototyping work canvas

Keep the prototyping movement going

Great! You have designed the first bunch of prototypes. Now it’s time to get the ball rolling. The prototypes need to be tested, improved. And when successful, the need to be scaled to the rest of the organization. A couple of tips to keep the movement going.

  • Make it part of your routine (for example update in every meeting)
  • With prioritizing, keep in mind that it’s not for the next year. Don’t make it to big of a deal. It’s about starting. And, like Mark Zuckerberg said: ‘better done than perfect’.
  • Make the progress visible to all the employees, use for example Trello (digital tool) or find a nice way to visualize in the office.
  • Celebrate the small steps/victories!

Role as a leader

In an organizational change or transformation, the role of the leader(s) is a crucial one. As a leader, you have to set the example. Lead the way in the process. Start (and finish) a couple of prototypes. But not only, you have to lead. You have to follow as wel. Be open and humble as leaders, learn from your employees.

Now it’s your turn to start prototyping

In this article we handed you a guide to start prototyping in your organization. Now it’s you turn to start prototyping, start a movement and learn from every step. 

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About the author

Edwin van der Geest

Edwin van der Geest

Chief Prototyping Officer at Prototyping.Work and Organization Designer. Edwin helps employees, teams and companies Unleash Potential Energy!

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