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What is Continuous Discovery / Product Discovery?

What is continuous discovery / product discovery? 

Like most startups, most products and features are bound to fail. This usually happens when customers fail to put the customer first.

Today’s product teams are weighed down by addressing small issues, fixing errors, and dealing with a backlog in Jira or Asana. Simply put, most product teams spend too much time, energy, and resources on product delivery. 

Product discovery is the process that teams use to evolve their ideas. It allows them to answer important questions, such as “What exactly should we be building?” 

Continuous discovery, a term that was coined in 2012, means that your team is performing product discovery as often as possible. This stage is focused on experimentation, ongoing conversations with customers, and other research methods. Discovery-driven roadmaps lead to a backlog of items that are each tied to business goals, not just engineering ones. 

Taken together, product discovery and continuous discovery have become the gold standard go-to-market strategies for many tech companies, especially for cash-strapped startups looking to deliver immediate value.

By engaging in product discovery and continuous discovery, teams focus on not simply shipping new features, but ensuring that those new features actually create value for both the business and their customers.

Product delivery, on the other hand, answers the age-old question, “How should we build it?” At this point you might know what you need the product to do, but you’re not quite sure how to accomplish that goal. 

If product discovery is about continuously developing a backlog, then continuous delivery is focused on constantly building, testing, and deploying new products and features.

How do you practice continuous discovery and product discovery?

Product discovery coach Theresa Torres says teams need to adapt 3 important mindsets to practice continuous discovery for product teams.

  • Collaborative 
  • Continuous
  • Experiment 

Collaborative

While product managers make decisions for the business, designers focus on the customer experience and engineers on what is possible given the organization’s current tech stack. 

But other stakeholders–including quality assurance engineers, UX researchers, CX, data scientists, development, IT/OPs, and marketers–are also involved in various stages of the process. 

Some methods that help teams overcome silos and align include:

  • Experience mapping, which focuses on the customers’ needs
  • Opportunity solution trees, which help keep teams aligned on product’s roadmap
  • User story mapping, which keeps teams informed about proposed solutions

All stakeholders can work together, however, to uncover customer needs, wants, pain points, and desires. 

The bottom line? It’s all about breaking down silos and avoiding hand offs.

Continuous 

Successful companies like Amazon and Netflix obsess around their customer, making constant changes that continue to enhance the customer experience. 

Discovery is never done, which is why it’s important that product teams touch base with customers as often as possible. User interviews and A/B tests help ensure that your features will have a positive business impact.

Similarly, it’s crucial that teams carve out time to meet about customer data. More teams are investing in platforms that come with real-time insights that provide information about conversion rates, business opportunities, KPIs, and more.

Experiment

Finally, it’s important to remember that most features and ideas will fail, or won’t exactly live up to expectations on the first try.

Successful teams prepare for the worst case scenarios, which means they are continuously seeking out new solutions and business opportunities. 

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