How to Ideate, prototype & pitch in no time applying this 3-in-1 method

Dan Nessler

Head Of #UX @hvzh | Lecturer @hkb_MAComDes @fhhwz @zhdk | MA in #dxd @HyperIsland | formerly w/ @scholzfriendsCH @JvM_Limmat


NABC in action in a client workshop at Hinderling Volkart w/ Kevin Benz

How do you quickly and collaboratively come up and pitch ideas or potential solutions to a problem?

My former co-worker at Hinderling Volkart (Lukas Karrer) introduced me to a method I have found extremely effective, inclusive and fun to use in client workshops:

NABC: A 3-in-1 approach to ideating, prototyping and pitching.

NABC can also be applied in an educational context or in your in-house design process.

The NABC method


Ideate, prototype and pitch applying the NABC method. As far as I know, it’s been around for some time and originated in Stanford/SRI. NABC stands for:

N — Need. «N» is the most important factor in the method. An idea without a practical need for it remains just what it is: a good idea and nothing more.

A — Approach. «A» is usually a point of departure for most activities, but with the NABC method, A always comes after N.

B — Benefit. «B» stands for the innovative elements — of an idea (USP: unique selling proposition) — , in other words, that which constitutes its uniqueness.

C — Competition. «C» stands for a study of the competition existing in the area concerned. C is often mistaken for N. C, however, focuses on the reality within which a concept has to function.

How to apply NABC


Before you start

Have your HMW-question (link by IDEO.org) ready e.g. «How might we raise awareness for… bla bla bla…». In a group of ideally 3–8 people, conduct a brain-writing exercise (other methods may be applied).

  • Hand a sheet of paper with your HMW-question to every team member. 

  • Each team member gets 30–60 seconds to jot down an idea and then passes the sheet to the next person that builds up on the previous idea. 

  • Time-box and iterate until each person has written an idea on every sheet. Within minutes you’ll have a collection of multiple ideas. 

 


Brain Writing Canvas inspired by https://strategyzer.comDownload link

Apply NABC


Get your group to share and talk about your ideas. Evaluate, consolidate your ideas and pursue the best one. If you have multiple teams you may also swap the idea-papers between the teams. Apply NABC:

  • On a flip chart, formulate the need (N) you are addressing, your approach/idea to address the need (A), the benefits (B) of your idea and potential competition ©. 

  • Once you have your NABC defined make it tangible. Do visual sketches of your potential solution or even build something. 

These steps can be done rapidly. We have applied the NABC method in quick 10 min sprints just to get first ideas. More time can be dedicated of course. 


NABC Canvas inspired by https://strategyzer.comDownload Link. 


Pitch


Last but not least, pitch your ideas following the NABC framework, show your prototype or get it even tested. Discuss, collect feedback, implement it and iterate.



Four NABC flip charts from a client workshop at Hinderling Volkart 

Done.

Conclusion


The NABC (need, approach, benefit, competition) method is an amazing tool that guides you through almost the entire design process.

It is easy to apply and promises quick results. It forces you to think beyond the idea as it is grounded in the original problem and user needs. Last but not least, applying NABC returns first tangible outputs.

Depending on your need you may scale the method and combine it with other tools. Best of all, this NABC is inclusive, fun and anyone can participate.




Dan Nessler


Head Of #UX @hvzh | Lecturer @hkb_MAComDes @fhhwz @zhdk | MA in #dxd @HyperIsland | formerly w/ @scholzfriendsCH @JvM_Limmat

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