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Great Discovery is almost an enigma. People understand it and recognize its importance in theory, but when it comes to putting it into practice, it’s the first thing to get compromised or cut altogether. We’ve talked about why that’s a bad idea before. But now we want to talk about the way we do Discovery.
For us, great Discovery is like an excavation. We mine for intelligence and unearth insights with tools like workshops, group immersions, secondary research, consumer & stakeholder interviews, focus groups,  empathy exercises, concept modeling, competitive analyses, journey mapping and more. We mix and match to fit the challenge. But here are a few of the tricks we’ve seen lots of success with.

  • Everybody in the pool

Our immersion sessions are kinda like…group swim meets group therapy meets speed dating (patent pending)…but a lot less awkward. It’s part fact-finding and part soul-searching, where we get a big group of folks from the client’s side and our side together in a highly collaborative and interactive session full of proposing & answering questions, sketching ideas, and sharing stories.
We usually have verbatim recaps of these sessions because you would not BELIEVE the gems that come from unexpected places.

  • From the many to the one

It’s important to start broad and immerse as a group. But it’s pretty well-known (and easy to understand) that some people just don’t feel comfortable speaking candidly in a large group ⏤ or in front of their bosses. So we use the dynamic discourse that occurs when everyone’s together to establish areas that we want to explore further with people one-on-one.
We do verbatim recaps here, too, because people are far more poetic and insightful than they realize they are, and we want to snag as much of that gold as we can right from the source.

  • Break through the bubble

It’s great to hear all about the brand from the perspective of internal parties, but (through no fault of their own), a client can’t be totally unbiased when it comes to talking about themselves. So we get outside the bubble and talk directly with consumers.
We set up (recorded) phone or in-person conversations with our clients’ customers so we can hear first-hand what has turned them off and what has kept them coming back. Because we’re a third-party digging into tough questions about the brand, people feel surprisingly open to giving the nitty-gritty details that they might otherwise have held back.
If you’re going to do Discovery ⏤ and you should ⏤ then you might as well do it right. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun, but the quality of your work really depends on it.


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