“If I had an hour to solve a problem,” said Albert Einstein, “I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
It’s a fairly established fact that if you aren’t constantly innovating your company, your product, and your brand that your venture will die. Constantly innovating and pushing the boundary of what has been done is quintessential to what it means to be entrepreneurial.
However, one of the problems that many entrepreneurs face is that they focus far too much on the solution before focusing on the problem. That is, they don’t focus enough on product discovery.
Product discovery is, in essence, a process by which to better understand a problem so that you can come up with incredibly eloquent and effective solutions. Following Einstein’s quote, the process emphasizes a heavy focus on accurately framing the problem and empathizing with the end users.
During product discovery you are exploring markets, interviewing end-users, and framing the problem in as accurate a light as possible.
The next stage involves ideating many solutions—this is where you take on the role of a divergent thinker. Now that the problem has been very narrowly defined, what are all of the possible ways in which we can solve it from this point?
Lastly, you take on the role of the convergent thinker. You begin to narrow down the solutions, prioritizing and planning a means of execution.
When going through the stages of product discovery, it’s important to keep the process as organic as possible. If halfway through the stage of narrowing down solutions you discover a newer and more accurate description of the problem, it’s great to start at the beginning. In this way, you will produce better products and solutions for accurately defined problems and targeted niches.
There are many different processes you can use to do discovery. Enterprise companies hire outside consultants and spend a year researching a market, potentially missing their window of opportunity. Startups jump straight to building with little to no discovery whatsover and risk investing time, effort, and capital into a company with no product-market fit. An approach that invests too much or too little can be dangerous.
What's a meaningful discovery process you can do in a reasonable period of time? Every company is different, but for most it should take days or weeks, not months or years.