Seems like everyone is talking about Continuous Discovery Habits right now. After finishing it for myself I can see why. It is one of the most practical and actionable books out there. You’ll want to keep this on your desk and refer to it often. There’s too much good stuff to be able to call out and highlight everything, you just need to read it for yourself. Below are a few of the biggest things that have been beneficial to me.
“I was lucky…”
The first few pages of the book have both Teresa Torres (the author) and Marty Cagan (product icon) calling out how lucky they were in their careers. When two people with their level of success are highlighting the role luck played in their work, it is reminder for all of us to stay humble, no matter the level of success we achieve.
Mindsets for Product People
The book mostly focuses on tactics and actions to take to build great products. But it sets a foundation for what it takes to build those products. Much of that foundation is the product team and their approach. It points out 6 mindsets that are critical to success:
1. Outcome-oriented: focus on the value created versus what was created
2. Customer-centric: put customer at the center of your world
3. Collaborative: no one can be successful on their own
4. Visual: use pictures and spatial reasoning to explore the opportunity space
5. Experimental: identify assumptions and gather evidence
6. Continuous: infuse discovery into development
Opportunity Solution Trees
One of the keystones of the book and something I wish I had known about a long time ago. There’s so much to unpack here but the key point is that they allow you to align business value and customer value in your development efforts.
They also allow you to take complex, unsolvable problems and break them into small, solvable chunks that allow you to deliver value along the way.
It's an Art and a Science
There’s always a balance to strike between using data to make a judgement and using your instincts based on what you know about your customer. Additionally, you want to make judgements in a way that let you pivot and adapt as you learn more. You will never be 100% right but by mapping the problem space and breaking it into the smallest opportunity units possible you greatly reduce your risk when making assumptions.
Know What to NOT Work On
“First, start by asking for each, ‘Does this idea solve the target opportunity?’ It’s okay if it’s only a partial solution, but you’ll be surprised to find several ideas that don’t solve your target opportunity at all. Don’t worry – this is a natural side effect of idea generation. But now is the time to weed them out.”
The habits outlined in the book can help us understand what ideas we generate will solve for our target opportunity and ultimately deliver value. There is value is being able to weed out ideas before we spend more time on them only to learn we are chasing the wrong thing.
Additionally, you can use the principles and habits outlined to avoid opportunities when they are not a fit for your team. The above example is of a team who found a valid customer pain point but also discovered they were not the ones best situated to solve for the opportunity.
Power of Principles
Success comes from outlining your principles and building habits on top of them. With this approach you don’t have to know everything or be the most skilled to be able to deliver value for the customer and the business. And ultimately following this type of approach will bring growth in your own skillset and career.