Continuous Product Discovery 101: Examples + Notion template
Continuous Product Discovery is the most important area for a Product Manager of an existing product. But many struggle to implement the theory in practice.
Below I present the 4 steps and examples of organizing your Continuous Product Discovery work. The recommended approach combines the top techniques:
Opportunity Solution Tree by Teresa Torres
Opportunity Score formula by Dan Olsen
Strategyzer Testing and Learning cards
If you are unfamiliar with Product Discovery, check my previous article What Exactly Is Product Discovery? Product Discovery 101 before reading this one.
💡 Before starting Continuous Product Discovery, clearly define the Product Outcome / Goal you are trying to achieve.
Step 1: Discover
Start by exploring the problem space. This is typically done with customer interviews.
While interviewing customers, empathize with them and try to identify their needs, problems, and desires (Opportunities). For every person, note a memorable quote, facts, and insights.
You can organize them like this:
💡 People are biased. Ask about specific situations. Prioritize facts and actual behaviors over opinions.
💡 Don’t take it too far. 7 - 15 interviews might be enough to get meaningful results.
💡 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.
💡 You might also use sources other than interviews, for example, surveys.
💡 For an existing product, leverage Product Analytics. They will tell you what customers are doing across their customer journey. Interviewing customers will tell you WHY they are doing it.
Step 2: Define
The next step is to define and structure the customer’s problems. My favorite approach is Opportunity Solution Tree, based on Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres.
For every Opportunity, calculate the “Opportunity to add value” based on Dan Olsen’s opportunity score formula. It’s extremely simple, more intuitive, and gives similar results to the one from Jobs-to-be-Done. My introduction (PDF) and Dan’s free template (Google Slides) are here: free link.
You can organize your Opportunities like this:
💡 In practice, you map Opportunities and assess Importance and Satisfaction during interviews. You can restructure and aggregate those insights later.
💡 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).
Step 3: Ideate
Explore possible solution ideas for the Opportunities you mapped. Teresa Torres recommends that every member of the Product Trio brainstorms individually.
Here is an example of organizing Solution ideas related to Opportunities:
💡 Roughly estimate every idea. You might want to tackle ideas for which Opportunity to add value / Estimated cost is higher first. Even if the Opportunity Score is high, the cost of implementing a solution might not be viable for the business.
💡 Another source of ideas might be benchmarking. Please remember that the strategy requires tradeoffs. You should compete to be unique, not the best in all possible markets.
Step 4: Experiment
Once you ideate, formulate testable Hypotheses related to the Solution ideas. Plan and conduct experiments.
A great way to identify Hypotheses related to value, usability, viability, and feasibility is using Story Mapping. Free template (PPTX).
You can organize your hypotheses like this:
💡 Don’t verify every hypothesis. Factors that suggest testing it: high risk, low cost of the test, and short time.
💡 Eliminate waste by automating your UX testing. I recently fell in love with Maze, which easily allows you not only to test ideas (.g., prototypes, tree testing, categorizing information, 5-second test) but also to recruit and manage participants. Another popular tool is Optimal Workshop.
After reading this and the previous article, you should:
Understand how to leverage Continuous Product Discovery as a PM
Know how to prioritize Opportunities
Identify hidden assumptions and plan experiments
Combine top techniques (Opportunity Solution Tree, Opportunity Score by Dan Olsen, and Strategyzer cards)
The next step?
Think about how you can apply it in practice.
🔒 Additional resources
Premium subscribers can now:
Get my Continuous Product Discovery Notion template.
Attend Continuous Product Discovery Masterclass (April 1, 8:00 PM CET, 11:00 AM PST) and get a digital, personal certificate (accredible.com)