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🔢 Key Takeaways

  1. Product managers should prioritize customer research and understand their needs and wants to build successful products. The opportunity solution tree framework offers a structured approach to product development. Persona and Dovetail offer tools for KYC/AML and user research to help facilitate the process.
  2. Teresa Torres' Opportunity Solution Tree Framework helps teams frame problems well by starting with an outcome at the root and building towards solutions. It shifts teams from output to outcome and prioritizes purposeful solutions over just features.
  3. To provide a better streaming experience, companies can use an experience map to identify key moments and user needs. Breaking the opportunity space down into smaller levers allows for continuous product improvement.
  4. To develop a successful product, it's essential to evaluate the problem from a big picture perspective, break it down into smaller opportunities, and gather customer stories to identify their needs and desires. By framing specific opportunities, you can provide customer-focused solutions.
  5. Rather than simply improving ease of use, product teams should identify and address specific pain points facing customers. With critical thinking and audience understanding, even companies with fixed roadmaps can benefit from an outcome-oriented approach.
  6. Continuous discovery involves gathering customer feedback to improve product decisions as customer needs are always changing. Build in feedback loops and assumption testing to implement this process and make better decisions through developing good habits.
  7. Embedding discovery activities into daily work improves product development by making better bets over time. Including teams already interacting with potential users and automating recruiting processes can make it easier to adopt discovery behavior.
  8. Utilize multiple user feedback solutions to assess level of risk and measure impact. Remain open-minded and adaptable to evolving ideas. Avoid overcommitting to one approach by evaluating pros and cons.
  9. Collaboration is hindered by the focus on territorial defense in functional silos. A well-functioning trio of a product manager, designer, and software engineer can achieve shared understanding and promote collaboration. Businesses need to unlearn and learn new ways of working. Simplify interviews to avoid unnecessary hurdles.
  10. In an interview, avoid just asking questions, but have a natural conversation. Ask open-ended questions, be curious, listen and summarize. Collect valuable information and gain insights from the interviewee's story.
  11. To develop successful products, teams must prioritize understanding and changing user behavior over relying on what users say they would do. Small experiments can yield reliable data and should be used in conjunction with user research.
  12. Conducting qualitative interviews and testing assumptions can help prioritize ideas and run small, continuous tests. This approach can improve discovery and prevent costly experiments.

📝 Podcast Notes

Understanding Customer Needs and Automating Research in Product Management with Teresa Torres

  • Teresa Torres is a highly recommended book author, product coach, consultant, and speaker who has worked with over 12,000 product managers.
  • In this podcast, she talks about the opportunity solution tree framework and delves into customer research and ways to automate it.
  • She emphasizes the importance of understanding what customers need and want and how to give it to them in product management.
  • Two sponsors, Persona and Dovetail offer KYC and AML solutions and user research tools respectively, to help build better products.

A visual framework for product teams to prioritize outcomes first and build purposeful solutions.

  • Teresa Torres discusses her opportunity solution tree framework which is a simple visual tree that helps product teams to make a shift from focusing on output to outcome.
  • This framework adds structure to the wide open, messy problem of figuring out what to build by starting with an outcome as the root of the tree and branching into the opportunity space and then into solutions.
  • The purpose of this framework is to help teams really take the time to frame a problem well before jumping to solutions.
  • Despite its simplicity, using this framework can be complex and challenging for product teams who are used to being told to build features instead of focusing on outcomes.

Creating a Seamless Streaming Experience with an Experience Map

  • To improve the user experience for streaming entertainment, companies should structure their opportunity space using an experience map.
  • This map should include the distinct moments in time when users are deciding what to watch, evaluating content, and engaging with the platform.
  • By understanding the needs, pain points, and desires that arise in each of these moments, companies can create a seamless experience that caters to their users' preferences.
  • The opportunity space should be broken down into three to seven levers, with opportunities getting smaller as the tree is further deconstructed.
  • This approach can help companies continuously improve their products and better meet the needs of their customers.

The Importance of Identifying Small Opportunities in Product Development

  • In product development, it's important to evaluate a problem through a big picture view and then break it down into smaller opportunities that can be addressed.
  • This approach allows for more strategic decision-making and a customer-focused solution.
  • To identify these opportunities, it's crucial to collect rich stories from customers through effective interviewing skills.
  • These stories can reveal unmet needs, pain points, and desires, even those the customer may not be aware of.
  • Additionally, opportunities should be framed specifically, such as addressing the difficulty of entering a password on a streaming platform.

Focusing on Solving Pain Points in Product Discovery

  • Teresa Torres, a product discovery coach, encourages teams to focus on solving specific pain points rather than just making a product easier to use.
  • To do this, teams need to develop skills in identifying opportunities and framing them in a way that solves a problem for a specific target audience.
  • It requires critical thinking, deep understanding of customer needs, and the ability to structure opportunity space.
  • Companies with a fixed roadmap can still adopt an outcome-oriented approach by changing the way individual contributors work and finding customers to talk to, even if not officially allowed to.
  • Taking this approach can lead to better products and outcomes for the business.

The Importance of Continuous Discovery for Digital Product Development

  • Continuous discovery is a process of continuously gathering feedback from customers and using that feedback to make better decisions about what to build.
  • It's important because digital products are never done, and customer needs are always evolving.
  • To implement continuous discovery, it's essential to build in continuous feedback loops and make assumptions testing part of the delivery process.
  • Even if leaders don't make time for discovery, it's still possible to incorporate it into your work through as little as an interview a week or by integrating assumption testing into delivery.
  • Empower yourself to make better decisions by focusing on developing good habits.

Making Better Bets through Daily Discovery

  • Discovery is essential for making better bets in product development, but it can be challenging to find time for it.
  • Teresa Torres recommends embedding discovery activities into daily work instead of treating them as separate phases.
  • Everything in a backlog is a bet, whether or not discovery has been done.
  • The benefit of always doing both discovery and delivery is that over time, better bets are made.
  • Automating the recruiting process for user interviews, such as through NPS surveys, can make it easier to adopt the behavior than to skip it.
  • Involving internal teams that are already interacting with potential users can also be effective.

Streamlining User Feedback: Tools and Best Practices for Product Teams

  • There are many tools available for product teams to easily conduct user interviews and surveys without needing to be directly involved in the scheduling or implementation process.
  • However, not all solutions require extensive discovery and it is important to assess the level of risk involved in each bet and measure the impact of any solutions released.
  • It is also recommended to work with multiple solutions for core product functionality in order to evaluate pros and cons and avoid overcommitting to one approach.
  • While PMs may have opinions about the right answer, it is important to remain open-minded and allow for ideas to change and evolve.

Collaboration: Learning from Kindergartners

  • Collaboration is key to building better products, but the focus on defending territories in functional silos often hinders collaboration.
  • We can learn from kindergartners who focus on brute force trial and error and just do instead of wasting time negotiating social spaces.
  • Well-functioning trios, consisting of a product manager, designer, and software engineer, can work together to achieve a shared understanding, reducing disagreements and promoting collaboration.
  • It's a symptom of business culture that we need to unlearn and learn new ways of working.
  • During interviews, avoid using long question protocols and remember that you're just talking to a human.

The Importance of Open-Ended Questions and Curiosity

  • In an interview, it's important to have a natural conversation rather than just asking a bunch of questions.
  • By asking open-ended questions and being curious about the interviewee's story, you can collect valuable information you wouldn't have thought to ask about.
  • You can even run an entire interview by just asking one question and then being curious about their experience.
  • It's also important to listen to the interviewee and summarize what you've heard to show that you're interested in their story.
  • By collecting stories in your interviews, you can gain valuable insights and customers may even enjoy the experience.

Focusing on User Behavior: The Key to Successful Product Development

  • Product teams should focus on understanding and changing user behavior instead of relying on what users say they would do.
  • In an ideal world, the process of developing a product does not change as a company grows from early to later stages.
  • However, in larger companies, there may be adjacent teams and dependencies to manage, but the fundamental base unit remains the same.
  • When it comes to the validity of small data, the product world is held to a different standard than other businesses.
  • But small experiments can be used to collect reliable data over time.
  • Experiments and user research should be considered together, as experiments are also a form of user research.

Qualitative Interviewing and Assumption Testing for Sustainable Discovery

  • To improve discovery, Teresa Torres recommends two core activities: qualitative interviewing and assumption testing.
  • Qualitative interviewing is used to learn about opportunities such as unmet needs and pain points, while assumptions testing is used to evaluate solutions based on specific assumptions.
  • Breaking down ideas into underlying assumptions and prioritizing them can help teams run tests that are small enough to test each assumption.
  • By doing so, teams can sustain continuous discovery and run half a dozen to a dozen assumption tests per week.
  • This shift in behavior can make discovery more sustainable and prevent running time-consuming experiments that cost too much money.