Product discovery is an invaluable phase in the product development process. It's all about uncovering what users truly want and ensuring that development resources are directed towards solutions that genuinely address these needs. Yet, it's baffling to observe that many companies skip or underutilize this step. Here are my thoughts about why this might be the case.
1. Mistaking Assumptions for Facts
Many teams believe they already know what the user wants. Maybe they've been in the industry for decades or have anecdotal evidence from a few customers.
The problem? These assumptions can be misleading and don't reflect the broader market.
2. Pressure to Move Fast
There's often pressure to get products to market as quickly as possible. Product discovery can be seen as a time-consuming detour, even if it ensures a more successful product launch in the long run.
The problem? Without validation, you are likely to need to do rework or a complete overhaul.
3. Lack of Awareness or Understanding
Some teams might be unaware of the product discovery process or may not understand its value fully. They might confuse it with market research or see it as just another brainstorming session.
The problem? Decision making down the line may be slower without stakeholder alignment.
4. Resource Constraints
Product discovery requires time, effort, and sometimes even money. Companies running on tight budgets or schedules might decide to bypass it, often to their detriment.
The problem? When you're not sure about what needs to be built, it's hard to allocate resources effectively.
5. Fear of Negative Feedback
Engaging in genuine product discovery can expose flaws in a product idea or indicate that there's no real market for it. Some teams might avoid discovery out of fear of such revelations, opting for blissful ignorance instead.
The problem? You may miss out on uncovering even better ideas.
The Path Forward
Avoiding product discovery is a perilous approach. While it might seem like a time-saving decision initially, it can lead to wasted resources and failed product launches in the long run. Embracing a discovery-first mentality not only ensures better products but also fosters a deeper connection with the user base.
As the world becomes more competitive, understanding and meeting genuine user needs is a crucial differentiator. Shake off the myths and reservations about product discovery and place it at the heart of how you create and enhance products.