Product discovery describes the process of finding the right problem and identifying the right solution out of multiple explored options.
While this can feel and sound very abstract, we do this regularly as part of our daily life. Heck, you are doing this even when you decide on your Friday evening family dinner.
You could go for the first idea that comes to your mind when it's your turn to come up with the Friday dinner extravaganza for your partner and 2 young kids. You might think to yourself, hmm, I haven't had lobster with champagne for a very long time. I'd enjoy it tonight, and it would be delicious.
But luckily years of experience have taught you differently.
- When you think about family dinner you have certain expectations. You have an outcome in mind. For example, you want something healthy for your family, and you also want the social experience of a meal that allows you to have a great time with your loved ones.
- When it comes to picking what to eat, you are taking the needs and wants of your partner and kids into consideration. You have developed a mental model of their likes, dislikes, their food allergies, their preferences for dinner, hunger level, etc.
- Based on this mental model of your family's needs and wants, you pick an outcome for this Friday's family dinner. You want multiple courses with healthy appetizers and a light dessert, thinking by making this your kids are most likely to stay around the table all the way through dessert.
- You explore potential meals. You come up with multiple potential meals and what meal would address the outcome best. You look at what will excite your family most. What can be made quickly? Where do you have ingredients at home? Could a course or the whole meal be ordered in, instead of cooking at home? What are the costs of ordering in? Is the food age-appropriate?
- Out of the potential meals and courses, and based on the answers to the questions above, you pick a family dinner that will most likely fulfill your desired outcome.
- Lastly, come Friday, you prepare a wonderful dinner for your wife and kids.
Great. You just could have cooked the first thing that came to your mind and thought "let's cook this delicious lobster with butter. When I serve it we can test, measure, and learn what works for my family and what doesn't."
Don't make lobster for your target audience if all they want is chicken nuggets and fries.
Outcomes of the product discovery process.
This applies to cooking for your family and building products for your potential customers.
- Solid understanding of customer needs, pain points, and desires - the problem and opportunity space.
- Opportunity to increase focus by prioritizing a single problem first. Prioritization is based on an understanding of the impact of problems on your target segment and how well these fit into your product strategy.
- Increased confidence in a solution by quickly testing multiple alternatives at the same time, instead of spending weeks building the first thing that comes to your mind,
- Fast solution validation through testing assumption first.
- Lastly, empowered product teams. Product teams that work towards an objective and outcome. It's like if everyone can find the perfect family dinner for every occasion and not just you.
Use product discovery to understand the wants and needs of your audience and find the best solution to address a specific customer outcome.