Companies can now test complex service and product prototypes by employing stagecraft, an approach that uses the "tricks of theater and film" to give the illusion of the real thing, according to the Harvard Business Review.

How it works: When the Department of Homeland Security used stagecraft to test equipment for first responders, it used projections, dummies and mockups, and had real EMTs simulate situations in which they would use the equipment.

Why it matters: Stagecraft can help test prototypes that otherwise wouldn't be safe to test. In the case of EMT equipment, "real-life testing was impossible; a poor prototype could endanger human lives."

Cheaper and faster: The HBR reported this approach costs "thousands" compared to the "millions" needed for traditional tests. Additionally, allowing customers to test the "real thing" keeps companies "from going too far down a wrong path" in development.

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