How to convince your manager to spend more time on Discovery
Over the past couple of years, a lot of you have reached out and asked how they could get their managers to spend more time on Discovery. For that, I thank you. I probably wouldn't invest too much time in convincing your management to invest in Discovery if you are an individual contributor.
Over the past couple of years, a lot of you have reached out and asked how they could get their managers to spend more time on Discovery. For that, I thank you. Please keep these messages coming... 🙏🏽
Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
I probably wouldn't invest too much time in convincing your management to invest in Discovery if you are an individual contributor.
The reason you've not done so yet is likely that you lack the bandwidth or fear the consequences of investing your time in something you're not sure will yield impactful outcomes.
Instead, I would look at one of the challenges your team is trying to address right now and use this as an opportunity to go ahead and prove the value of discovery.
Talking to 5 of your users or prospects is not complicated. If you cannot get in touch with them via internal channels, LinkedIn helps.
A few well crafted invitations later, you're sending your Calendly link for people to book a 30-45 minute call with you. Active listening will help you gather the insights you need to unlock your decision-making and communicate with confidence to the same people who haven't been willing to "let you" do this in the first place.
And by the way, most people will gladly take the time with you without expecting to be incentivised.
Doing discovery is cheaper than not doing it.
Discovery is there to help your team reduce the level of uncertainty around a problem or opportunity, and you use a set of activities to assess value, viability, usability and feasibility risks.
Put simply, if you're not doing any discovery, it probably means you either have a low level of (evidence-based) uncertainty or you like living life on the edge.
There's nothing wrong with the latter, but you're not betting your life here, rather that of the company.
Now imagine you work in a squad with a product designer and 5 engineers.
And let's say developing a feature having undergone no discovery would take 1 month.
If on average, a product team member would cost the company 100k€ including taxes and fees, this means that these 6 team members would cost the company 50k€ over 1 month.
This means you're spending 50k€ without a clue as to the value this feature would actually yield for the business. Not only is this a risk for the company, it is not what good product management looks like.
I'm not saying you should always do discovery, but merely suggesting that you use your own judgement to gauge the level of uncertainty on a problem or opportunity and take the right steps before a lot of people start investing their time executing a baseless plan.
Your findings, how you share them and the way you use them to articulate your decisioning are a few factors which will buy you more leeway from your management team in actively investing in discovery.
Discovery can be short and impactful...in fact, it should be.
Let's take a concrete example for this one.
A Paris-based scale-up had been trying to launch a product for over 3 years but for a number of reasons, the company never got around to it. This was a new product the company would offer within an existing product domain.
They had reasons why they wanted to invest in this product, which nearly all of their competitors offered.
They reached out to us, and we helped them work backwards to the problem, frame the discovery activity, run interviews with prospects and users and extract opportunities around addressing that problem.
This took 3 weeks 👆🏽.
We found out that this problem was worth solving, but not for the reasons the management team thought. This alone was proof that discovery was indeed needed. This also allowed for significant insight into how the product would be built and marketed for maximum impact on the bottom-line.
We then conducted a Design Sprint 2.0 (4 days) to ideate around what the solution could look like, created high fidelity prototypes and tested them with users.
Now, admittedly this is not the fastest sprint we've run but 3 weeks and 4 days beats 3 years by anyone's standards.
These 3 weeks and 4 days cost the company 37k€.
You could look at the figure and say "well, that's not cheap!" but here's why it's actually cheaper than the status quo:
✔ no more unnecessary time was spent not addressing a real problem for users,️
✔ a significant amount of opinion-based arguments were shut down,
✔ the outcome is a product in private-beta which comes with strong differentiators,
✔ the company now has a new revenue stream set to produce value at scale for the business.
In case you're wondering... Generally speaking, you should be able to extract actionable insights within 2-3 days of running a couple of calls every day.
No one will blame you for having a meaningful conversation with the person for whom you're solving a problem.
You know what to do! 😉