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The Innovation Process
Module 4.3

Minimum Viable Solution

Build simple models to gather feedback and test your assumptions

At the end of the Ideation module your idea might be more theory than reality. The next step is to start building simple models that you can use to gather feedback, test some of your assumptions, learn and iterate.

This module is focused on creating a basic working solution (whether a physical product or service) which we term a ‘minimum viable solution’. The aim is to develop a minimum viable solution as quickly as possible using as few resources as possible. A number of innovation disciplines influence our approach, including ‘design thinking’, ‘Lean Startup’, ‘agile’ and ‘user-centred design’.

There are lots of different terms used around this stage of the innovation journey, including ‘proof of concept’, ‘prototype’ and ‘minimum viable product’, which are often used interchangeably but sometimes with specific meaning. We use the following terms and definitions in this module:

  • Concept: A concept isan idea that has been further developed and recorded in some form and can be used to test feasibility. The idea of developing a final ‘proof of concept’ comes from research and development, when a theory is tested to see whether it can be delivered in practice. We do not include proof of concept, as this is often solution specific and can be very technical.
  • Prototype: A prototype is used to test the desirability of a solution to the user or problem holder. The idea of a prototype is more commonly used in Lean Startup and user-centred design methods where user engagement and approval are the main focus. It is a quick and iterative process that should be used to test all major assumptions, components and touch points for your proposed solution.
  • Minimum viable solution: A minimum viable solution is the simplest solution (and least expensive) that nevertheless contains all the core components that have been identified as necessary and can therefore be piloted effectively. We use ‘minimum viable solution’ rather than the commonly-used ‘minimum viable product’ in recognition of the broader variety of potential solutions.

In this section we work through how to develop initial concepts, making your ideas more tangible through a variety of methods. Once you have established some initial concepts, you will need to evaluate the feasibility of each and select the best ones to develop and test further through prototyping. Your eventual aim is to develop a minimum viable solution that is sufficiently developed to be used in a full pilot intervention.


4.3 A Develop concepts
The exercises in this activity will help you develop your ideas into working models and protocols that can be used to evaluate the feasibility of your ideas.
4.3 B Narrow down concepts
The exercises in this activity will help you assess the concepts you have developed and narrow them down so that you can start developing initial prototypes.
4.3 C Develop and test prototypes
The exercises in this activity will help you start developing prototypes that can be used to test hypotheses with users and target groups and gradually evolve your solution.
4.3 D Evaluate prototypes
The resources in this activity will help you evaluate your prototypes to better understand how different components work, starting to bring your minimum viable solution together.