CERN IdeaSquare Journal of Experimental Innovation (Dec 2023)

Prototyping in practice – Paths and partners for testing novel industrial product and service ideas

  • Senni Kirjavainen,
  • Simo Lahdenne,
  • Tua A. Björklund

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 3


Read online

Prototyping is a core activity in developing new products, processes, and organisations alike. This paper describes the prototyping activities of 31 engineering design professionals in a high-technology industrial company, examining the distribution of different types of activities across different phases of development based on thematic interviews. Examining 62 prototyping and testing pathways, we found that most prototyping paths started with the practitioners’ own activities, which was also more likely to lead to paths with more prototyping steps than if the first prototyping activity took place with a stakeholder. Overall, the paths were short, indicating a lack of iteration. Both internal and external stakeholders were involved in collaborative prototyping. This collaboration was enabled by personal and unit level relationships, and different stakeholders were involved in different phases of development. Taken together, our results suggest that practitioner attention in prototyping may focus on latter development phases and demonstrate less iteration than what literature might suggest, with opportunities for prototyping highly dependent on personal networks in the high-technology context in the absence of flexible prototyping budgets.