Is Product Discovery a Bless or a Curse?
Clarifying product discovery + announcement
Product discovery has become and trend, but the sides effect of it aren’t always the desired ones.
I’ve stumbled upon some mutations of product discovery that shocked me:
Discovery and delivery are done by separate teams
Discovery becomes a phase before delivery
Open-ended discovery leads to analysis paralysis
The above isn’t a feature, but a bug, which needs an immediate hotfix.
Product discovery done right helps teams drop bad ideas fast and focus on what’s worth pursuing.
Product discovery done wrong contributes to another variation of a feature factory.
I don’t know about you, but I can no longer accept teams stuck in the build trap. I don’t tolerate that anymore, and I am fighting for change.
I need your help
For 15 years, I’ve been part of the same equation: digital product management. What surprises me is that no matter where you are, the problems are similar.
As a software engineer, I received requirements and solutions to implement, but nobody could tell me which problems we were trying to solve.
As a product manager, business stakeholders bombarded me with their wants, and no one could tell me their needs.
As a head of product, I continuously received C-level feature requests and pressure to commit to deadlines.
I need your help to change that.
I want to equip product professionals to foster changes and escape common traps. That’s why I started working on a new workshop, but before I get it available, I need to know your struggles.
I’d be wholeheartedly grateful if you could dedicate five minutes to the following survey. That will point me in the right direction to create a worthy hands-on workshop with no bullshit.
Now, returning to my question.
Is product discovery a blessing or a curse?
It highly depends on how you play the game.
When bad product discovery is in place, undesired results take over:
𝟭 - 𝗦𝗶𝗹𝗼𝗲𝘀
One team takes care of discovery and hands it over to another team to take care of delivery.
You can commonly observe that by having Product Manager take care of strategy and Product Owner execution.
No one has end-to-end responsibility, and a blame game starts. PM blames PO for poor execution, and PO blames PM for bad decisions.
𝟮 - 𝗟𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘃𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗲
Teams misuse discovery to develop high-fidelity prototypes, a long list of requirements, and endless feedback loops to agree on a solution.
Instead of learning from real customers, a kind of internal discovery dominates, and pleasing business stakeholders is what matters.
𝟯 - 𝗔𝗻𝗮𝗹𝘆𝘀𝗶𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗹𝘆𝘀𝗶𝘀
Teams keep opening up possibilities and don’t know where to start. Instead of nailing down a few options and experimenting with them as fast as possible.
Teams talk about hypotheses and potential outcomes of too many solutions. As a result, they get stuck in abstraction and don’t move on.
Real product discovery is rare
In a few words, product discovery done right help teams uncover what creates value, while product delivery helps the team build what creates value.
Discovery and delivery are intertwined. One depends on the other. You cannot separate them from a team and expect great results.
The secret is to find balance with this dual reality.
I like saying that part of the team invests 70% in the future and 30% in the present, while the rest of the team 70% in the present and 30% in the future.
When you have everyone in the future, you create nothing valuable for the present.
When you have everyone in the present, you miss future opportunities.
🚀 Premium material for subscribers
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Untrapping Product Teams to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.