Innovation is about speed.
This could be from the speed at which something that can be implemented to innovating to accelerate an existing process. Regardless, speed is at the core of much of what innovation is about.
Speed is only going to be good if rapid prototyping is available to test, so does this make rapid prototyping the most important element of innovation?
Being able to quickly move from idea, to design, to prototype means that testing and bug fixing can occur on a real product or idea, rather than theorising the problems that could happen.
However, despite the benefits it can also have some flaws.
One of the major ones being that pushing through an idea to prototype without due diligence beforehand can slow down a process. Prototyping is essentially the point at which the smaller issues can be solved, not where the basis of the idea is questioned.
Effectively critiquing a product or idea is the best way to make sure that there are no major issues that would stop it performing as it should. Therefore this is not the time to do it, it should be done at the concept or design stage.
With an increased pressure to move from the design to prototype stage quickly, the model for early fault finding will become less thorough and potentially threaten the potential success of the end product.
Although the majority of the time any major issues will appear during this time, the truth is that if the onus of the process is to create a prototype in a shorter space of time, there will be an increased chance of mistakes being made. It is clearly going to be less problematic if the changes require just a change on paper, rather than a change to something that has already been made.
So I would argue, that creating a prototype as soon as possible is always going to be a key element to the success of a product, but fault finding before the prototype stage is even more important.