Pretotyping with Albert Savoia

by Wendy Soon on January 15, 2016


Happy New Year everyone! 2016 is going to be an awesome year, we are certain of it. Before we took a break for the holiday season, we had an Igniters Meetup with Albert Savoia (Innovation Agitator and Master Pretotyper), on Pretotyping – building the right It before you build It right. Here’s a summary of our learnings that day:


  1. Be involved in SUCCESSFUL, PRACTICAL, INCREMENTAL innovation. These will lead to a BREAKTHROUGH innovation.
  2. Kill unworthy ideas as early as you can. Don’t bother spending ANY time on them if they are unworthy. Identify these early and eliminate them. Avoid any compulsion to keep going (yes, admit that we all do that). Axe it while you can. Be disciplined about it.
  3. Most new products FAIL in the market, even if they are competently executed. According to a study by Nielsen, at least 80% of new products fail, and only 6% grow to become star products. Even if you are the best if the field, and even if you put in a lot of funding into the product, you can fail. Good examples include Crystal Pepsi, Google Wave, Iridium Satellite Phone, Segway Transporter.
  4. All companies have SOME product failures. So you’re not alone, and your product failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Google had a suite of products that failed (and you may not even remember some of them). Microsoft had their fair share as well.
  5. Failure is the DEFAULT outcome. Ouch! But deal with it. The more receptive you are of this idea, the easier it will be to get over it.


So WHY do most new products fail? He calls it F.L.O.P, for Failure in Launch, Operations or Premise. Hence, pretotype to get around failure. Build the right It, before building It right.


  1. Replace OPINIONS with DATA.
  2. Replace QUESTIONS with ACTIONS.
  3. Replace IDEAS with PRETOTYPES.


Pretotyping doesn’t reduce the number of failures. They simply speed up failures. Meaning the time to failure is faster, so you waste less time on products that will eventually fail.


For more extensive elaborations on the above points, and to hear more from Albert with hsi interesting illustrations, please visit the below video recording of the full session.

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