Why

When you're creating something new to the world, you can't look over your shoulder to see what your competitors are doing; you have to find another source of inspiration. Once you start drawing or making things, you open up new possibilities of discovery.

Use prototypes to sell your ideas to others. Good prototypes don't just communicate they persuade. Prototypes beat words and pictures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a good prototype is worth a thousand pictures. It is easy to reject a dry report or a flat drawing. But models often surprise, making it easier to change your mind and accept new ideas. Or make hard choices, such as forgoing costly and complex features. Give your management team a report, and it's likely they won't be able to make a crisp decision. But a prototype is almost like a spokesperson for a particular point of view, crystallizing the group's feedback and keeping the things moving

What

Quick prototyping is about acting before you've got the answers, about taking chances, stumbling a little, but then making it right.

How

Doodling, drawing, modeling. Sketch ideas and make things, and you're likely to encourage accidental discoveries. At most fundamental level, what we're talking about is play, about exploring borders.

Prototyping is a dance. Sometimes the music doesn't move you or your steps fail. But that's no reason to stop. Just as writer's block happens when writers stop writing, so, too, does innovation grind to a halt when prototypes stop being built. When the muse fails you, don't mope at your desk. Make something.

"I just prototype a bad idea and maybe shoot the hell out of it," says one of IDEO's engineers. He'll often know it's not the solution he wants, but if he prototypes it, he can shoot it down faster and then find out what doesn't work or perhaps discover something new. Prototypes can be a source of creation and insurance. When all else fails, prototype till you're silly.