product

Doing enough discovery in line with the risk to your customers or business


At So Energy, I was responsible for doing a soft-launch of a completely new offering. Our existing proposition as a company is clear. We are a company that provides Green energy to help you heat your home.

Even though we had a lot of industry experience in our core team, we were launching a new Solar Panel installation offering and it was important to initially be able to validate whether this would resonate with our customers. We started with our existing as they were easier to reach.

After analysing a number of User Interviews and building artefacts such as Empathy Maps, we were able to build our first MVP, our landing page with an initial manual fulfilment process. It wasn’t perfect, but it allowed us to validate our biggest assumptions. One of the feedbacks from our Sprint Demos highlighted an issue with the contrast of a button on mobile, and since we had `UserTesting setup, we were able to easily test out our new designs with as little as 5 users to give us the confidence we could ship the next iteration.

With amazing conversions, we could confidently de-risk the other areas of our business model and share learnings.

In product management, this is often called a feedback loop and when we talk about growing quickly, it’s our ability to deliver this value to our customers early and often that’s the be-all and end-all of agile.

In some cases where the risk is very low, that does mean going to prod without validating with customers. But measuring the impact of the release. Because long term that is cheaper than reams of unnecessary discovery.

Not everything needs to go into discovery

So you may be thinking, that’s great but, not everything needs to go into discovery. Do you know what, I couldn’t agree with you more?

In terms of what goes into Discovery or what we Ship & Learn this visual explains it all.

As we all know, sometimes you have things that are not high value but they hold everything together so that’s what the bottom left is for.

I believe the amount of discovery a product team does should be proportional to the degree of risk to the customer and business.

The understanding a product team has of both customer and business risk, and therefore potential harm they can do to either or both, will evolve over time.

As teams learn more and more about their customer and the business in which they are operating, you’d expect the risk profile of their solutions to decrease.

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About James Abayomi Ojo

Product Maker & Cultural Storyteller