Test and learn from my work

Testing and experimenting will help you to develop your idea and improve how you work.

Once you have an idea you believe is worth pursuing, it’s crucial to dedicate time to developing and testing it. This is a creative and investigative phase of innovation, where you will seek new perspectives and test your innovation to breaking point. Your idea, which might be sketchy, will be transformed into a robust proposal through learning and iteration.

Developing and testing your idea is unlikely to be a linear process. You might gain insights that take you ‘back to the drawing board’, but this may be just what you need to find the best solution. Involving a range of stakeholders (including potential customers, prospective purchasers, investors and commissioners) will give them the opportunity to review your idea and shape it further. In turn, this will build more support for your idea and increase your chances of success.

As you begin to test out your ideas you need to find ways to think about and share them – to bring them to life. Visualisation and prototyping are two key methods for developing and designing innovations.

Visual representations can be invaluable, especially during early phases as ideas are being developed. Showcasing ideas with sketches, diagrams, storyboards and even photographs and film will help to communicate your idea and its potential impact. Additionally, you might also decide to build it using mock-ups or models.

Prototyping is a small scale approach to developing ideas prior to any significant investment. It can involve a range of exploratory, creative and evaluative activities. It could mean visualising your ideas, creating role-plays or trials in simulated environments, or a short field-test of a service in its intended setting. Whatever methods you choose, prototyping will help you move an idea from something fuzzy towards something conceptually clear and robust.

Along the way you’ll need to capture the results of testing activities so you can build evidence around what works. In the later stages of development, you may want to move from a prototype to a pilot. Piloting occupies the sharper, more refined end of the development process – the final testing stages where you smooth out minor issues and formally measure outcomes.