Better Lives Blog
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

From Cheap Prototypes to Valuable Learning

Fei Gao 


A picture is worth...


Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. Thanks to cheap prototypes, we learned something valuable quickly.

We know that the Buddhist religion is a big part of everyday life in Myanmar (over 80% of the population is Buddhist). And we saw that flowers are one of the main components of a home shrine, which almost everybody has. During a brainstorm session we came up with an idea of artificial flowers that have repellency and fragrance to be used at the shrine. We since created several variations of this idea into prototypes.

We had high hopes for them. However, we learned something that we didn’t expect a few weeks ago in the homes of Myanmar. All the people we spoke to use flowers at their shrines, either bought from a market or picked them from the wild. People are not picky about the types or colors, but they have to be fresh. It turns out, to them, dried flowers (artificial ones included) offered at the shrine could mean drying up of their family’s health and fortune! You probably already know what they have to say about our silk and plastic flower prototypes. One variation of the flower prototypes did well though. It is the most abstract representation of a flower in the form of a flat gel on a stick.

People love the flexibility of it, saying instead of using it on the shrine, they can move it where people gather as needed. It is also easy to be kept out of reach of their children.

We learn as we go.  

2 Comments so far

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On Monday, July 14, 2014, bo ce from appleton wrote

very impressive, fei - thanks for sharing. it's reassuring to see how design thinking can have an impact with base of pyramid users. please keep us posted on how your journey goes.

On Monday, July 14, 2014, J from Chicago wrote

a true case of prototype to learn :)


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