Esther: [Imagine] you’re on a five hour journey in a bus, are you going to continue feeding from the same breast?
(All four male members collectively say): Oh!
This exchange on page 7 neatly summarizes the way that prototyping reveals disconnected assumptions made by team members “from different social worlds” (11). If the team had planned the prosthetic only verbally, with no physical modelling, the men’s mental images of a single-sided bra may never have come to light and been challenged; likewise, Esther could have unconsciously assumed that the men already knew it needed to cover both breasts, and so would have said nothing about it. The act and process of physical prototyping throws all conflicting assumptions about the product’s structure (and therefore function and meaning) into sharp relief. It highlights the importance of building a team that features diverse experiences and backgrounds, in this case by revealing gendered the inferences in play. Of course, this lesson applies to design thinking and processes everywhere, across all cultures and industries.
And all of this is revealed by a simple “Oh!”