Engineers have used agile methodology to achieve predictability and success. Product teams can do the same with Product Discovery. It starts by creating a growth mindset and developing empathy for customers. It continues by learning and executing techniques to find valuable problems and validate potential solutions.
Take a hands-on approach by embedding into the customer environment
Have conversations to find underserved and undersolved problems
Analyze how customers currently accomplish their goals
Ideate and organize solutions around customer problems and corporate objectives.
Conduct user testing experiments to validate the value of solutions. Revise. Retest.
Build successful ideas.
Reject invalidated solutions.
We instruct, coach, and mentor Product leaders and Product teams to learn and do Product Discovery themselves. All sessions use the domain and subject matter of the specific team so that techniques are immediately relevant and any output of the process is actionable. When we do user testing, all Product team members can and should lead user interviews. Combining a positive attitude with a few tips and tricks can help any individual work directly with users.
Byron, an engineer, quickly became a natural at user interviewing. Spending time at the client site also helped the team develop empathy for their customers.
Product leaders seek to develop a testing ground for ideas before their teams build them into software. During the course of an engagement, Product teams develop a robust Product Discovery track to feed high quality ideas into the Engineering delivery track. Very quickly, CEOs and Head of Product see an increase in the quality of ideas submitted to engineering and an increase in the alignment of Product team efforts to company objectives even as teams become more autonomous and need less hands-on management.
Data Science focused startup
By working directly with Product Managers, Jim has created a sustainable adoption of Product Discovery. There are so many things that can get in the way of consistently including customers in the development process. Now, as a company, we are way more focused on customer problems and co-developing solutions alongside customers.
Ecommerce division of Hallmark Cards
Jim used dynamic and energizing hands-on sessions to help my Product teams develop a Product Discovery mindset. We learned to work directly with customers to iterate ideas and make them better before we went to engineering. This shifted our approach to more innovative solutions, drove higher quality releases and is contributing to more revenue.
London-based division of Travelers Insurance
Jim came onsite for a couple of weeks and worked directly with our product teams to help them with the discovery techniques that they had learned about in a Silicon Valley Product Group workshop....to actually take those techniques and apply them in their real-life objectives which was really beneficial to all of our teams.
Awareness of the need for impactful Product Management has grown. At the same time, so has the volume of information about it. Here, we curate and post the most useful and actionable topics covered in books, podcasts, posts, and prominent speakers.
Create an in-depth map of the user experience in one session. Use this map as a resource for future product planning and team discussions.
Understanding common pitfalls helps team recognize bad habits. Are you too busy? Do you lack the team skills or the company culture to do user testing?
Don't outsource gathering customer insights. Don't leave it only to the customer facing teams. Winning product teams create direct relationships with customers.
Why you should read this book: Inspired is business school for PMs. In tech, Marty sees the success of the product as the success of the company. He dives deeply into Product Discovery as well.
Jim's Advice: Read the last 25 pages first. Pages 311 to 326. These four chapters (he calls it "The Right Culture") connect with good Product Managers who dream of being great.
Why you should watch this video: Michael Sippey of First Round Capital is an original practitioner of Product Discovery. He's concise. His advice is timeless and cuts to the core of how Product teams should spend their time and energy. Don't write the MRD, PRD, Jira, whatever. Talk to customers. Now. Only 13 min long when you watch at 1.5x speed.
Why you should read this book: Sprint is a recipe-like guide to running your own design sprint. Think of it as "Design Sprints for Dummies." The exercises are valuable and repeatable making this book indispensable for product teams.
Most companies have tried a form of Product Discovery to include the voice of the customer. Often the initial attempt was not impactful and took too much work. They end up struggling to make it a regular part of their process. Bringing in an experienced professional who can spot areas of improvement, suggest process and organizational changes and focus on the most important techniques can make the cultural change needed to get the benefits of Product Discovery in the long-term.
Jim Morris founded the Product Discovery Group in 2015 to bring a user-centric focus to Product teams creating software to solve business and consumer problems.
He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science and immediately joined the first wave of Internet startups. He's had two successful exits. Online retailer Fogdog Sports went public on the Nasdaq exchange in 1999. Jim was an early engineer at Fogdog. Product review platform PowerReviews was bought in 2012 at a 13x multiple for $168 million. He started PowerReviews with three others in 2005.
Jim has advised Product teams at 20+ companies in a variety of industries, business models, business types, and product types.