March 21, 2024

Why every startup founder should leverage product discovery techniques

On the road to crafting a digital business, the product discovery phase is where we decide what to build, how to craft it, and, most importantly, why we are creating it.

Héctor Giner - Founder and CEO of Z1

Every startup always starts with an entrepreneur's idea. This idea usually involves a problem that technology can solve, and design plays a vital role. At the very beginning of this startup journey, the founder-to-be usually already has some solutions in mind. 

This is a common and dangerous mistake: jumping directly into a solution without zooming out and thinking about the opportunities to capture and the potential risks.

The four big risks of product strategy are linked to value, usability, feasibility, and viability, and taking them into account is crucial for a safer product strategy. But how do we do it?

For quite some time now, there has been a maelstrom trend in the startup world to follow so many different techniques, tools, processes, and workflows that we usually even forget what we are trying to achieve, which should be our primary goal as digital makers. We are talking about Agile, Design Thinking, and Lean, to name a few.

This type of content is commonly designed for companies with plenty of resources to research, build super complex technology, or spend a lot of time on design iterations or product testing. But let’s be honest, it's more common for most of us not to have such a large amount of time and money to invest

When following overkill processes designed for specific contexts, the value of product strategy (vision, design, decisions) is lost in the mix. So we have to extract from all these very nice tools and cool frameworks only the things we can really use in our daily work. 

We have always done this with our clients at Z1: We think about how we can really help our partners build the right things and design the experiences they and their users need. We don’t just make them follow a renowned process they may feel comfortable following when creating a digital product.

We know embracing this level of uncertainty when you're building an experience from scratch is tough. Still, we recommend being open-minded to experimenting. Only then will you really learn to choose the proper tools that will really help you stay focused and achieve your product’s goals. Choosing an effective startup toolbox, especially in constrained contexts, will help you to:

  • discover new market opportunities
  • solve the most significant problems your users are facing
  • integrate the design solutions into a prioritized product roadmap.

Benefits of thinking about the why instead of the what

We define outputs as the things that we deliver, the things that we build, that we design, and that we share with others. It's a very common feeling to commit to just delivering something. But the real goal is to deliver something that works for our goals, and that's the outcome. Our mental model at Z1 is to think about outcomes instead of outputs and think about why we're doing something instead of only what we're doing. 

Outputs could be methodologies or tools we're using, and we feel safe using them. It feels like, “Oh, we have followed this process, so we should be on the right path.” Outcomes are about finding the right impact we have on our users' lives with what we're delivering to the market.

Rather than obsessing about features and methodologies (outputs), you must shift the focus to their impact on customers and businesses, to the influence those activities have on both work and product (outcomes).

We recommend framing problems in a customer-centric way and elevating customer needs to be on par with business needs. Focus on creating customer and business value alike.

So remember: Following a process only because it will make you feel safer is not the way; staying focused on the real value of what we are building is. Having the right tools helps, but being open-minded and flexible is key when facing the levels of uncertainty every startup product faces.

If you want to access our one-hour workshop about leading product discovery techniques, email us at hola@z1.digital with the subject “Workshop.” We’ll be delighted to share what we’ve learned after building +150 digital products for startups and big enterprises with you!


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