3 Approaches to Product Discovery. How to Combine Them To Succeed?
Product Manager should spend most of her time on Product Discovery. But there are 3 different, popular approaches.
It’s easy to get confused.
What are they?
Start by interviewing customers. Ideate in a Product Trio (Product Manager, Designer, Engineer). You might recognize this approach from Continuous Discovery Habits by Teressa Torres.
Start with stakeholders and experts. Ideate together. Customers will only test your ideas. Sprint by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky.
Spend most of your time in the problem space, analyzing customers’ jobs (Jobs-to-be-Done by Tony Ulwick). Solutions are just a consequence.
How to combine them (8 tips)?
I do not doubt that you should always start with the customers (Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs).
At the same time, I encourage you to:
1. Interview not only customers but also Sales, Success, Customer Support, or Founders
Those people spent hundreds or thousands of hours with your customers. Even though they might be biased, ignoring their knowledge and discovering problems from scratch is a waste.
2. For existing products, leverage Product Analytics
Talking to people is not enough. Product Analytics will tell you what customers are doing across their customer journey. Interviewing customers will tell you WHY they are doing it.
The best course on product analytics and 100% discount code only for our community: free link.
3. Use Dan Olsen’s Opportunity Score formula to prioritize opportunities
It is simpler, more intuitive, and gives similar results to the one from JTBD. See:
Opportunity Score - Dan Olsen’s template + visualization (Google Slides)
4. Estimate ideas and consider eliminating those for which Opportunity Score / Cost is lower
Even if the Opportunity Score is high, the cost of implementing an idea might not be viable for the business.
I’m aware some “noestimates” proponents might have a different opinion. But in business, you always have limited money, and you typically want to select initiatives that promise the highest return on investment.
5. Generate hypotheses for your ideas using the Story Map
Using Story Map is a great way to identify hypotheses related to value, usability, viability, and feasibility. Free template (PPTX):
Using Story Map to generate testable assumptions (PPTX, Google Slides)
6. Do not verify every possible hypothesis
Factors that suggest testing it: high risk, low cost of the test, and short time of the test. You might be inspired by Strategyzer cards:
Test Card (PDF) + YouTube video (3:04)
Learning Card (PDF) + YouTube video (2:04)
7. Eliminate waste by automating your UX testing
I recently fell in love with Maze, which easily allows you not only to test ideas (e.g., prototypes, tree testing, categorizing information, 5-second test) but also to recruit and manage participants.
Another popular tool is Optimal Workshop.
8. Do not overthink the problem space
While it’s important to understand customers’ jobs, and JTBD might be helpful, you should spend most of your time discovering a solution that will be way better than anything else. And testing your ideas. See the recent interview with Marty Cagan (6:45):
If you want to understand Product Discovery better, you might start with a free article (Product Discovery 101):
In the next 4 weeks, I’ll publish:
Initial Product Discovery 101 (the title might differ). How to discover a completely new product and achieve Product-Market Fit.
Continuous Product Discovery Notion template. Opportunity Solution Tree, prioritizing opportunities, identifying hidden assumptions, and experimenting.