Live from LavaCon: Conference Room Prototyping: A low-cost, High-value Approach to Selecting the Solution You Really Need

Conference Room Prototyping: A low-cost, High-value Approach to Selecting the Solution You Really Need, by Julian Murfitt, Mekon

lavacon2014Julian (and Mekon) has created many prototypes over the years, and has now created a “Conference Room Prototype” drawn from past experience.

The first assumptions:

  • The client has done some evaluations
  • There is a content strategy in place
  • This project has a high percentage possibility of failure
  • 12 dominant risks (red flags) toward failure:
    • None of them talked about tools or technology!
    • All were about people and process


Human factors identify how to avoid a content strategy plane crash. (He gave a presentation on Human Factors at Congility.)

The mental model: people can only think about what they think about. They can’t conceive of something that they can’t imagine.

  • ┬áDITA is a migration process
  • It requires people to understand DITA in their mental model.

The old way:

  • Requirements
  • Features
  • The vendor sets the plan

Don’t buy the car without driving it first!

The conference room prototype:

  • Hands on session – a 2 day session
  • Involve a cross-section of the team
  • Includes some initial training to orient users
  • Choose the team carefully
    • Team members will feel a sense of ownership
  • Create user stories to test out on the prototype
    • Create them in a “who/what/why”
    • More than just putting down the requirements
    • Look at the activities, and then determine the stories that cover those activities (and their related functionalities)
  • Ask: did we actually solve for the need that we identified?

Prototyping is essentially testing – it makes obvious what was not obvious.

In order to prototype, you need to prepare:

  • Sample content
  • The right team
  • Carefully developed user stories
  • Engage a vendor

During the prototype session:

  • Collect feedback
  • Score
  • Review and Refine

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