Don't drop the pilot!

Sometimes an idea that’s been built, tried and tested in pilot mode still fails in the real world. To avoid that happening, build your idea around a ‘mud map’ during the Prototyping phase of NoTosh Design Thinking and create a systematic view of the context in which your idea will actually operate.

Mud mapping is best employed after a period of intense research has identified the problem or challenge to be tackled and an idea has emerged out of a wealth of possible solutions. It’s a really useful way to identify potential human challenges that may arise as the idea is implemented with different groups in your school, workplace or community.

How does it work?

  • Choose an idea that’s been researched with a few prototypes already created, but hasn’t been publicised yet
  • Place your idea at the centre of the map, using A1 paper or a flipchart
  • From the centre of the map, draw half a dozen concentreic circles and divide into six slices (think cake!) labeled WHO, WHAT, HOW, WHERE, WHEN, WHY
  • First of all identify the WHO – from the people who will benefit most to the people who will benefit least
  • For each WHO work out:
    • WHAT they or you need to do for the idea to be implemented
    • HOW this could or would happen
    • WHEN it would happen and finally
    • WHERE it would happen


  • Consider the point of view of each WHO – it’s a great exercise in promoting empathetic thinking, encouraging participants to put themselves in other people’s shoes
  • The process should reveal obstacles that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, allowing you to adapt and change ideas for the better
  • Hexagonal thinking is a good way to show how ideas connect
  • Don’t be afraid to highlight disconnections – people, groups, actions – what can you do to bring them closer to the idea?
  • Keep a note of each action suggested by the participants and use this to inform the next prototype
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Ewan McIntosh

Mindset, Skillset, Toolset in action

Covey's mantra put to action

Higher order questions = higher order thinking

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