Make It Right – Faster

by Kelley Mitchell Price

Did you know, in some cases, the research defining the purpose of a new product is often as little as 5% of million-dollar budgets? These are some of the sharpest people in the business, and in our discussions, I was struck by their stories of how little research goes into products that ultimately cost millions. I was asked recently to speak about product discovery to a group of product managers, designers, and developers. So allow me to make a pitch for including product discovery in every project!

But It Needs to Be Fast.

The push to ‘add value faster’ means we often skip some critical thinking steps early on that ensure we’re solving the right problem. New methods have been introduced to quickly learn about customers, test concepts, and gain insight, yet we still resist proper discovery because of time and agility considerations.

Product discovery gives us the means to find and investigate a problem, explore the marketplace, talk to customers, and ultimately feel the empathy needed to drive to a good product.


All the feels. Here’s how.

Customer Interviews

Very simply, talking to people that fit into your target audience. It doesn’t matter how many, but more than one and less than 20 is a good range. This is great for discovering unmet needs and will likely identify opportunities for other features you can come back to later.

Stakeholder Interviews

This is what often passes as product discovery. It’s just a piece. Don’t spend too much time here, or you’ll end up discouraged and/or chasing incremental solutions. Do what you must to get buy-in, and spend more time on customer interviews.

Marketplace Investigation

What is happening in the marketplace where your product will exist? Is the market competitive? What are competitors doing? What’s happening in adjacent industries? Find out whether your product is a parity solution or a differentiator.

In Situ Observation

Personally, my favorite technique. Go where the people are. Do they things they do, yourself. Use your eyes and ears (the best design tools, IMO). Take notes and pictures of what is interesting, and bring them back to your workspace as inspiration.

Ultimately, the more time spent in discovery – defining your product’s purpose and building empathy for its users – means the less time spent on expensive, painful rework post-launch. Take your time to understand, and let thoughtfulness be your guide.

Kelley Mitchell Price

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