October 25

Product Discovery

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A crucial piece of a product manager’s job is determining what products to build and why. To make that decision, you really need to understand the customers that your company is trying to serve and what problems you’re helping them solve.

Product discovery is the commonly used term for the activities that product teams follow to understand your customers and their problems. The way product teams approach product discovery is in a constant state of flux as more and more product teams try new techniques and share what they find out.

This collection of resources provides a look at how the concept of product discovery came about, some in-depth guides on how to perform product discovery, and some examples of how product teams approach product discovery in their company.

The Origin Of Product Discovery

As a product manager, you’ve no doubt heard about the importance of product discovery and the interaction between discovery and delivery. But have you ever wondered how the term “product discovery” was coined?

In this post, Marty Cagan, Product Consultant and Founder of Silicon Valley Product Group, claims credit for coining the term product discovery as a way to describe figuring out what to build and to replace the phrase “gathering and defining requirements.”

Read on, here.

Product Discovery Basics: Everything You Need To Know

While there are many methods you can use for product discovery, the underlying principle is simple: Product discovery is a decision-making process. Good product discovery includes your customer throughout the process.

In this article, Teresa Torres, a product discovery coach, explains what product discovery is, why you should do continuous discovery instead of project- based discovery, and who is primarily responsible for product discovery.

This article also serves as a great jumping off point for several other resources on Teresa’s site. Those resources provide a deeper exploration of a variety of product discovery topics.

Read on, here.

How To Do Product Discovery

Product discovery is a set of activities you perform to define where, when, and if you should evolve your product. Those activities are helpful because you’re trying to solve complex problems, and the many variables involved make it impossible to find simple and definitive answers.

JB, an engineer and product manager, describes the basics for good product discovery and provides a small initial guide to make it easier to make your first product discoveries.

Read on, here.

Product Discovery: A Practical Guide For Product Teams

Tim Herbig, product management coach and consultant, created this guide to show you how to go beyond clichéd advice (like “just talk to users more often”) to make sure that the practice of product discovery helps teams make real progress. Tim describes the exact techniques that he uses to help product teams navigate the uncertainty of exploring the problem space of their user segments and to identify solutions that are worth building. If you want to make sure that you’re building the right product for the right audience, you’ll love this guide.

Read on, here.

Can You Provide Insight Into How You Work With Product Discovery?

Gib Biddle, former Netflix/Chegg VP/CPO, explains how he approaches product discovery by telling the story of how he used product discovery to address whether or not Netflix should pursue one of the CEO’s pet projects: previews for movies and TV shows.

From that experience, Gib learned to do research by blending four sources of data: existing data, qualitative, surveys, and AB test results to develop consumer insight about how to delight customers.

Read on, here.

The New York Times Product Discovery Activity Guide

The product teams at The New York Times adopted a data-driven, experimental approach to make sure that they were able to effectively integrate discovery and delivery.

To help with this effort, the teams developed a Product Discovery Activity Guide that rolled up activities, exercises, and testing techniques from various resources.

Al Ming, VP of Product Management at Scripps Networks Interactive, describes how the Product Discovery Activity Guide is structured and shares a version that you can use to help guide the discovery efforts of your team.

Read on, here.

How We Set Up Our Team For Continuous Product Discovery

As the world changes around you, your user needs change rapidly as well. On top of that, your competitors aren’t standing still and continue to introduce new functionality. With all that change going on, how can you make sure that the features you come up with today are still relevant in upcoming weeks or months?

Alexander Hipp, Founder of Beyond, PM Library & Riptide, explains why continuously running product discovery alongside shipping features can benefit your business goals as well as create value for your users.

Read on, here.

A 4-step Guide For Day-to-day Product Discovery

Building successful digital products requires two things: building the right product (product discovery) and building the product right (product delivery). While the intersection of product discovery and product delivery is nothing new, Sophia Höfling, Head of Product at Saiga, has found that delivery receives much more attention from product teams and senior management than discovery.

To address that imbalance, Sophia put together a guide that explains the four main aspects that have helped her champion continuous product discovery. The guide is targeted at teams or product leaders who are looking for some inspiration on how to get started with a more balanced, outcome-driven way of product development.

Read on, here.

What Is Product Discovery And Why Does It Matter?

In an ideal world, your team would clearly understand your customers’ needs before starting a new product or initiative. But customers’ needs change, and your product initiatives must change with them.

The folks from Hotjar put together this guide to product discovery that describes what product discovery is, shares a set of discovery questions that you can use, suggests a product discovery process to follow, and explores 11 product discovery tools.

Read on, here.

Product Discovery Playbook

Product discovery is an exercise in working out whether there are customers who want the product you’re working on and that you can deliver a solution to them.

Product discovery comes in different shapes and sizes, depending on the situation. Product discovery for a new feature is different from product discovery for an entirely new venture. You might run product discovery continuously, or you might—for various reasons—only be able to run your discovery efforts with a defined start and finish. No matter what, there are some essential elements that you will most likely include.

Scott Middleton, CEO and Founder of terem.tech, shared this playbook that focuses on the essential elements for running product discovery, including the key concepts, inputs, activities, and outputs. It’s constructed and back-tested against many discoveries that Scott and his team ran at Terem.

Read on, here.

Get much more by downloading this 18,000 word Ultimate Guide for Product Managers. Find the best newsletters, communities, books, and valuable articles on product discovery, strategy, careers and more!




Kent J McDonald

About the author

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft with a variety of product teams and provides just in time resources for product people at KBP.media and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.


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