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What is Product Discovery about

The purpose of product discovery is to make sure we have some evidence that when we ask the engineers to build a production-quality product, it won’t be wasted effort. (Source: Inspired by Marty Cagan)

To reduce uncertainty around a problem or idea to ensure that the right product, feature or service gets built for the right audience.

In discovery we are tackling the various risks before we write even one line of production software. The output of product discovery is a validated product backlog.

It’s about providing answers to the [[#Risks]].

Product discovery involves running a series of very quick experiments, and to do these experiments quickly and inexpensively, we use prototypes rather than products.

The key to effective product discovery is getting access to our customers without trying to push our quick experiments into production.

Core principles

  • We know we can’t count on our customers (or our executives or stakeholders) to tell us what to build. (It’s our job to ensure that what we build solves the underlying user problem).
  • The most important thing is to establish compelling value. So that customers ultimately choose to buy or use our product. This is where we need to spend most of our discovery time.
  • As hard and important as the engineering is, coming up with a good user experience is usually even harder, and more critical to success.
  • Functionality, design and technology are inherently intertwined (so the disciplines need to work together).
  • We expect that many of our ideas won’t work out, and the ones that do will require several iterations.
  • We must validate our ideas on real users and customers. (and before we spend the time and expense to build an actual product)
  • Goal is to validate our ideas the fastest, cheapest way possible
  • Discovery is about the need for speed. This lets us try out many ideas and for the promising ideas, try out multiple approaches.
  • We need to validate the feasibility of our ideas during discovery
  • We need to validate the business viability of our ideas during discovery


Value Risk

Will customers buy it (or choose to use it)?

Usability Risk

Can customers figure out how to use it?

Feasibility Risk

Can engineers build it regarding their skills, technologies, time and budget?

Business Viability Risk

Does the solution work for all other aspects of the business (marketing, legal, sales, …). 

Can our stakeholders support this?

  • Financial risk: Can we afford this solution?
  • Business development risk: Does this solution work for our partners?
  • Marketing risk: Is this solution consistent with our brand?
  • Sales risk: Can sales sell it?
  • Legal risk: 
  • Ethical risk: Is this solution something we should do?
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