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My Discovery techniques toolkit

Product Discovery is mainly used to learn about a potential problem, a market, and/or customers. The whole idea is to try to deliver the best solution with the knowledge acquired. How we do discovery depends on the problem that we are trying to solve and the stage of the product in its lifecycle.

A simple customer interview, an analysis of an internal dashboard, or even a brainstorming session. We all experienced or did a range of different Discovery techniques, even before they got the huge product community focus a couple of years ago.

In this article, my goal is to share the techniques that I used in a concise and informative way. If possible also learn from other people's experiences.

Usually, each Discovery technique serves different purposes, so it is important to understand its goal and when to use them. I will be brief on each Discovery technique, including 3 points:

  • What is the technique's main goal

  • When it makes sense to use it (from my experience)

  • And Recommended links to check if there is interest in applying it or learning more

Let’s start with my personal favorite:

Lean Inception

General goal: Created by Paulo Caroli at Thoughtworks, It brings a quick and structured way to come up in 5 days with an initiative MVP. It gives an easy-to-use framework to work on the Vision, Personas, User Journey, Features, and much more.

When to use it: Best when you need to create a new product or a critical/complex feature. Especially when there are too many different opinions and uncertainty.

To deep dive: Check the book or official link here.

Design Sprint

General goal: Created at Google, the whole idea is to create a prototype and if possible even test it in 5 days. Note: Prototyping is an additional discovery technique, but I will leave it inside this section as I believe that Design Sprint covers it pretty well.

When to use it: When you have a team of experts and you want to test ideas quickly. It is usually best suited for smaller initiatives when compared to Lean Inception.

To deep dive: Check here.

A/B Tests

General goal: A method of comparing two versions of the same solution against each other to determine which one performs better.

When to use it: When you are not sure of which way to go. It works best for B2C scenarios, as you can test with different and a higher amount of customers.

To deep dive: Check here.

Market research

“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed” by Antoine Lavoisier

General goal: You need external information to take a decision.

When to use it: It should be one of the main and most constant discovery tools for Product Managers, it works for many things, such as competitor analysis, analyzing feature/product differentiators, or simply to understand better the market and its trends.

To deep dive: A couple of examples.

Internal data

General goal: Instead of only looking to the market, you should also have some internal data that can help you discover. The Product Vision, Company Strategy, OKRs, KPIs, and key documentation are some of the sources.

When to use it: I would say that internal data should be used always. As a Product Manager, you should understand what data is worth digging into to.

To deep dive: A couple of examples.

Ask Experts

General goal: Find the people that are the experts on the topic to help you achieve your goal.

When to use it: When you want to validate your assumptions or when you want to build a Discovery team for some complex topic. Ideally, you will have them internally, but if not, try finding them externally.

To deep dive: Not much to deep dive into, just find the experts and talk to them! You will immediately get some insights if you approach them the right way.

User interviews

General goal: To understand customers and their behavior better so you can take a more sound decision. There are many techniques depending on your business type. For example a survey or a 1on1 talk.

When to use it: It depends, but I would say when internal expertise and market research are not enough, it is time to ask customers. Just be careful with biased questions.

To deep dive: A couple of examples.

Fake Door Test

General goal: To test ideas with customers. But the catch is that it is basically only an idea, the product is still not there. A good example is a fake button for a different payment method, a delivery option, a new feature or just a website with a potential launching date.

When to use it: When you want to validate if the idea can get customer interest/conversion.

To deep dive: Check more details here.


General goal: It is the most generic of all Discovery techniques. The usual goal is to brainstorm with a group of people to come to a decision or agreement.

When to use it: There are many ways to brainstorm something, depending on the decision that needs to be taken, you can use different techniques. Just find the one that best suits you and the problem that you want to solve.

To deep dive: There are so many sources. Here is a couple of examples.

That is it. This is my main experience with Discovery Techniques. What is your take? Which ones do you use?


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