Ed Cotton: The Rapid Prototyping Of Business

The internet and start-up workshops are turning the focus of business towards creating workable prototypes and sharing new ideas.

It’s fast becoming a fact that there’s a generation gap when it comes to ideas of business and business process. Quite simply, the internet has changed the rules and no presents a massive ocean of disruptive opportunity to anyone with the imagination and vision to capture it.

The non-internet business process required time and detailed research to develop viable concepts that people had confidence  that they could work in the market. It’s a laborious process that takes a considerable amount of time to develop and once developed it takes a even more time to understand the viability of the business. It’s a process that’s made more complex by rules, authors, approval and road-blocks that come in the form of standards or scores that have to be met.

As we get more comfortable with the internet as the  new business world- this complex processes are collapsing and being replaced and re-defined.  Speed to market is of the essence and there’s very little time for process. This new world is all about ideating and building.

Good examples of this in action are the Garage48 workshop from Estonia and Seattle’s Start-Up weekend. These events are designed to kick start business concepts into action by having participants work solidly for 48 hours on their ideas with help from outsiders.

These workshops are characterized by their energy, openness and the desire of people to work collaboratively to develop something new. The process, if any, is in the team-work, but what characterizes these events is that they are all about making and very little about talking. There’s a realization that a working prototype trumps a 50 page Powerpoint deck every time.

We are moving from a world where business and business ideas took years to develop and germinate, to a time where business are created in an instant.

The challenge here is cultural and generational- companies and organizations used to working with old school processes and systems are going to have to find a way to adapt to this new world. Just because their core business might not even be in the internet space doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be significantly impacted by it, or be able to take advantage of it.

A good step forward would be for companies working outside of this technology space, to dissect the processes of this agile workshops to see how they might be adopted for use inside the business.

There are clearly implications here for agencies used to working on process through a silo like system- breaking this down and creating more collaborative teams that swarm opportunities would not only change the way agencies work, but also their output.

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Ed Cotton is the Director of Strategy at BSSP and is curious about all things relating to brands, marketing and culture. Read more at influx insights.

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