With tight budgets and tighter timelines, it can be tempting to skip over the early stages of your project, like all the activities that make up Discovery. (After all, you just want to build the damn thing, right?)

But rather than thinking of Discovery activities as useful but negotiable line items to be sacrificed when the going gets tough, think of them as what they actually are: foundational prerequisites that help ensure your solution is as good as it can be.

So why does Discovery even matter?

It’s a reliable North Star to guide your project, your team, and your decision-making.

When you’re in the blistering pace of a design sprint, it’s easy to make decisions without thinking them through. We’ve all done it, and we all know that the end product ⏤ and the process itself ⏤ suffers when we do. Great Discovery means you always have a clear vision to gut-check your quick calls against. It makes it easy to make the right decisions, fast.

It keeps everyone on the same page

The Discovery process provides shape and definition that’s crucial for creating a great solution that works the way it’s supposed to. Discovery is about setting up enough informed constraints to guide the team’s thinking without being too restrictive.

It helps you confirm (or reject) your assumptions about the world you’re releasing your product into.

You know what you know. Or do you? It’s important to recognize the gaps in your knowledge and fill them in, but it’s equally important to validate the things you take as gospel. Working with unvalidated assumptions spells certain disaster.

Through Discovery, you’ll learn invaluable information about your intended customers, their pains & needs, and how your product will fit into their lives. You’ll find out what others in the space are already doing, what’s working & what’s failing, and why. You’ll be able to define success and give yourself a benchmark against which to measure future performance.

To sum it all up, we’ll tap into the rich community of fellow Discovery advocates…like Dan Brown, hero of design Discovery, who says concisely “Great discovery phases make for great projects.” And Rian van der Merwe (product manager/speaker/author of Making It Right/advocate of smart design/probably a guy we’d want to grab a beer with), who describes Discovery as “a process that helps us understand the problem properly so we don’t just design things better, but design better things.” We dig it.
Tune in next time to see how we use Discovery to make our projects the best they can be.