Better, Faster Product Discovery

This week, I’m on-boarding an exciting new startup client. As we work together, and I help him use our toolkit to screen and speed-interview potential early customers, I can see his brain exploding with what he’s learning from this process. It isn’t easy – there are emotional ups and downs – but we’re both THRILLED with the results so far, and I’m eager to see where this goes.

Product Discovery for Innovative Teams

If you’re innovating, one of the best ways to accelerate product discovery is to gather relevant insights from your “hot core” early customers.  Not your “target market” – that’s a different focus, and a common, deadly mistake that many smart teams make.

Your “hot core” early customers are defined by their need for the core value you’re offering — & their willingness to take a risk without social validation. Here’s how to recognize them.

They’ll “get” what you’re offering — even if most people don’t.

They’ll pay money for an early version, because it REALLY scratches their itch.

They’ll blurt out “I’ve been looking for something like this. When can I get it?” during an interview or playtest.

Each time a new client goes through this discovery process, and has these mind-expanding AHA moments, I’m reminded of how powerful this approach is. It’s an innovation-focused form of customer discovery – and it leads to better, faster product discovery and greater odds of success.

Whoa there. Wait a minute. What exactly is product discovery? And how’s that different from customer discovery?

Product Discovery vs Customer Discovery

You’re probably familiar with customer discovery AKA customer development. This term was popularized by Steve Blank and Eric Ries – and refers to the process of getting to know your customers’ needs BEFORE building your product, by  “getting out of the building” and using other discovery techniques.

Product discovery is an increasingly common term for the process of turning ideas into reality. It’s iteratively figuring out what to build, and who to build it for.  It’s the antidote to waterfall – a mix of (agile + lean startup + customer discovery) mixed with product management.  It’s ruthlessly testing your assumptions. It’s knowing which assumptions to test.

I first learned this term from Teresa Torres, a product manager and virtual coach who turned me on to Marty Cagan – the godfather of product discovery. Check out Marty talking about the root causes of product failure, and how to develop a healthy culture of experimentation. Great stuff.


Tales from the front lines of Product Discovery

For more insights on how Product Discovery is infiltrating enterprise change management, check out our Getting2Alpha interview with Teresa Torres, a rising star and innovative thinker in product management. Listen here for great insights from the front lines of enterprise change management.

This week’s podcast episode with Dan Olsen expands on our Product Discovery theme. Dan is a seasoned product leader who understands all the phases of product development -and knows what it takes to lead teams through the trenches. Tune in and learn from Dan’s boots-on-ground experience turning promising ideas into shippable products.

3 Techniques that can 10X your innovation cycle

For more actionable tips that lead to better, faster product discovery, signup for our FREE upcoming Webinar: The 3 Surprising Discovery Techniques that 10X your Innovation Cycle. Hope to see you there!