Phase 3

phase3; What wow?

Phase 3:  Asking “What wows?”

“Prototype to think, not to build.”

Designing for Growth (2011)

During the “what wows” phase, your team will identify and test key assumptions about the 2-3 concepts created in Phase 2.  To de-risk your project—that is, to maximize the probability that your solution will succeed—it is important to get a reality check sooner rather than later about the strong and weak elements of your concepts.  By sharing your concepts with stakeholders and individuals in the community, you will quickly learn the degree to which each concept is appealing to your customers, has the technology and feasibility to be implemented, and can be both funded and sustained.  The hallmark of this phase is to test different elements of the concepts through the use of prototypes.

Key activities

  1. Add details to more fully describe the main elements of each concept
  2. Identify the team’s assumptions about each concept
  3. Test those assumptions with customer groups using prototypes
  4. Combine the most promising elements into a single concept to test and refine

The partnership benefits of Phase 3

  • Tapping into partners’ networks to conduct feedback sessions
  • From the prototyping sessions, the partners and other stakeholders get to see what works, what gets support, and what doesn’t work

How Phase 3 can increase the odds of a successful solution (aka, de-risk the project)

  • Aligns the team’s thoughts and assumptions with current reality through feedback from customer groups
  • Allows the team to learn about what doesn’t work early on, and have the time and dollars to make necessary changes to the concept


  • Consider how to work within funding constraints to develop prototypes and test them sufficiently with customer groups
  • The corollary: Encourage team members to identify possible resources to support assumption testing and prototyping
  • Strive to field test prototypes with groups representing the full, diverse range of potential customers

Tools and Worksheets

Examples of some of the Phase 3 prototyping and outreach activities and ideas (from the Job Access Mobility Institute 2012-2013)

  • “What wows?” community outreach meetings
  • Parking lot prototyping (e.g., for employment transportation concepts, bring the concept to the employees where they work)
  • Post a video to describe the concepts and solicit feedback via a post-video survey