The art of product

Getting from ideas to delighted customers

Product Discovery 101

The term ‘product discovery’ refers to the process by which we decide whether to address a problem or not, and if we do what type of solution would work the best. It also covers the discovery of a business model and the validation of key assumptions. 

Identify a problem and solution

At the very beginning of any project, I want to figure out if there is a real, painful, underlying problem.

I do so by asking questions like:

  • Is there a real problem here?
  • Should we think about spending time on working on this problem?
  • Will anyone care if we fixed this problem?

If a real problem is identified, then I want to figure out what might solve it.

I do so by asking questions like:

  • What job is this person trying to do?
  • How are they solving this problem today and how painful is that process?
  • What would it enable them to do if this obstacle were removed?
  • What outcome do they care about?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • Who makes a decision and what are the boundaries for that decision?

Product Discovery: How to quantify a problem

Most people see “problems” because in their daily or work lives, they face an obstacle.

They would like to be effective at taking photographs / losing weight / remembering meetings / ensuring clients pay on time and something blocks their progress.

This is how most products come into being.

The product manager / founder / entrepreneur was walking down the street one day and bam! something happened.

But let’s be clear – at this point, you may have the inspiration for a problem that needs to be solved.

However, until we have done the product research and validated that others also find this problem something they are willing to pay to solve, then it is just that – inspiration!

The next step is discovering how others feel.

This means talking to customers.


Product Discovery: Talking to Customers

The first thing you want to do is talk to people who might have the problem.


And then ask them questions to gauge what their feelings are.

You can use this customer interview script as inspiration.



Now let’s say that you do have a problem.

You may not, but let’s say you do.

Who are your customers?

You can use this Jobs-To-Be-Done Persona Template to help you decide.



After you have done that and created a prototype, you may want to use a product feedback script.







Look back. Think about what you have learned.

This represents Soft Data. It’s qualitative. How to quant it. It’s a hypothesis. So now?

About Patrick O'Malley