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Tackling inequality lab update: Introduction to Prototyping

Discover how we work with our teams through the principles of prototyping. 

Rachel Abbott | 9 Feb 2022 | Reading time: 6 minutes  


On Wednesday the 12 of January 2022, our Lab participants came together for our first skills-based workshop of the year. The workshop was held online and attended by 15 people from across the healthcare system, all passionate about tackling inequality in diabetes. Many of our teams are entering the Prototyping Phase of the Lab, so to kick this off, this workshop’s key theme was centred around prototyping: what it is, what it isn’t and how to start generating ideas. The session’s aim was threefold: (1) To remind ourselves of our principles as a Lab group. (2) To learn how to prototype. (3) To listen to and learn from one another.  

The workshop was split into three sections: 

  1. Community Principles 
  2. Prototyping Introduction 
  3. Idea Generation 

Section 1: Community Principles 

Following the festive break, we used the first section as an opportunity for our Lab participants to reengage with each other and reflect on our Community Principles. We set the principles together when the Lab was originally formed as a framework to guide our work. We invited the participants to revisit our principles and consider the following two questions: 

  1. What are the benefits of building connections between teams? 
  2. How can we better harness our strengths? 

We then split the participants into small groups in break-out rooms to start the discussion, ensuring that each group contained at least one person from each lab team to encourage cross-team communication. Each room was treated as a protected space for participants to talk freely without the presence of a facilitator. We then brought everyone back together to share their discussions and highlight anything that had resonated with them.  

Community principles
Image of our Community Principles

Some of the key points that emerged from the discussion were:  

  • Working across teams enables us to learn from each other as we can share from our personal experiences, what worked well for us and what we needed to change.  
  • From this discussion, it’s become clear that many teams are facing similar barriers, despite the differing context of their work.  
  • Building these relationships can serve as a useful pathway to link with others working within the same space, thus building a network of resources and support

The responses from this discussion highlighted the value of building connections between teams. By communicating across Lab groups, our participants can learn from each other and consider new ways to help their respective communities. As facilitators, we can encourage this communication by continuing to incorporate engaging activities in mixed groups in our workshops.  

Section 2: Prototyping Introduction 

Our second section of the workshop began with a presentation on prototyping. As many of our teams are ready to begin prototyping their solutions to tackle inequalities in diabetes, we felt it was important to provide guidance on how to start the process and to highlight the differences between prototypes and pilots. 

This section occupied a significant portion of the workshop as success in prototyping requires us to reframe our perceptions of certain practices, including how we plan our actions and our perception of failure. 

“We need to think of failure as productive. Almost all first ideas fail, we need to fail quickly!”  

We rounded off the section by inviting our participants to reflect on the provided information and consider whether their existing ideas for prototypes are suitable or if they will need to make small pivots in their plans.  

Unlike our other workshop sections which are highly collaborative in nature, the purpose of this segment was to deliver information. We were able to keep our participants engaged by including prototyping examples and providing opportunities to ask questions, which sparked a discussion on who would be suitable to test the ideas and how to find them.  

View the section slides 

Section 3: Idea Generation 

Our final section of the day dedicated space for our participants to put into practice the skills that they had just learnt -having a go at creating ideas for prototypes and then stress-testing them to see if the idea breaks or if it is worth pursuing.  

Often in the idea generation phase, the socially dominant individuals will suggest ideas and other team members will agree. This is the sort of groupthink mentality that we want to avoid as it can hinder creativity. To reduce this, we provided participants with a few minutes for individual thinking time to consider ideas for prototypes and then encouraged each person to share their ideas with their team members, one after another. 

Once all ideas had been shared within the team, participants voted on which was the most promising idea (or ideas) and then further discussed the details. This method ensures that each member of the team can share their ideas and opinions and not just be a silent observer.  

This is just one of many idea generation techniques and as the Lab progresses, we will continue to share our processes and the rationale behind them, in the hope that they will also prove useful to you. 

View the Idea Generation process

What happens next? 

In the upcoming months, we’ll be running several workshops and hosting speaker sessions for our Lab participants. We’ll continue to document the journey here in our blog, so you can stay up to date with the process too.  

In the meantime, our Lab participants will be producing ideas for prototypes that they can use to address their tackling inequality challenges in their communities. They’ve been invited to record their successes, failures and learnings so this can be used to showcase their growth and to share with the rest of the Lab community. You can track the progress of our Lab teams on our Lab Challenge web page

We’re excited about our continued development as a Lab community and the impact that our teams will be able to have on overcoming inequality in diabetes. If there’s anything you’d like to find out more about, or if you’d just like to share some comments, please send us an email to 

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