What is pretotyping?

Simply put, pretotyping is the art and science of faking it before making it. Where it refers to an innovative product or service.

Good Failure vs. Bad Failure

The odds are stacked against innovators. Most new products and services fail. 

Failure is an unavoidable part of the innovation process; but some failures are much harder to take – and survive – than others.

In some cases, the failures can be attributed to poor execution in the way the innovative product or service was built and implemented. But in way too many cases, the innovative product or service was well thought out, planned and built. The team put a lot of time and effort to give it lots of cool features, they tested and debugged it, polished it and made it look as good as the possibly could – only to find out that they put all this time and effort on ... the wrong it. They built something that people did not want or need.

If your new product or service fails fast and cheaply, you will have the time, resources and energy to try something else – and keep trying until you have a hit. But if you've spent months and years and tons of money on a single idea that flops, you may have ran out of time, money and energy to give it another go.

Fail Fast ... and Often

Pretotyping is an approach to developing and launching innovation that helps you to determine if you are building the right it before you invest a lot of time and effort to build it right. Pretotyping helps you to fail ... but fast enough and cheaply enough that you have time and resources to try something different.

A pretotype is a partially mocked-up of the intended product or service that can be built in minutes, hours or days instead of weeks, months or years. The art and science of pretotyping is aimed to help innovators:
  • Decide what features can – and should – be mocked-up (or dramatically simplified).
  • Use mock-ups to test and collect feedback and usage data systematically.
  • Analyze usage data to determine their next step.
The concept of pretotyping was inspired by our experiences and by other notable examples we've heard over the years – such as the story of the Palm Pilot pretotype and the IBM speech-to-text pretotype.

This Blog

While the practice of pretotyping is not new, we find that it's an important step in the innovation cycle that is neither well-known nor practice often enough or well enough – this blog, along with the pretotyping.org website are our effort to fix that.

Our goal is to help popularize, refine and evolve pretotyping to help innovators waste less blood, sweat and tears on products or services that will ultimately fail.