Teresa Torres is a leading expert in product discovery, helping organizations identify new product opportunities that are most relevant to customers. One of the biggest mistakes that product managers make is skipping steps in connecting with customers during the early phases of product discovery. As Teresa explains, customer needs must be fully understood and documented in order to create effective product solutions.

Product Design Starts With Product Discovery

More than ever, the rules of product design are all about customer needs. This is inherently positive because everything we set out to do as product managers should be customer-centric. However, this is not to suggest that we’re doing everything our customers ask for. Instead, the process of deciding what gets built is now powered by customers – not just by product “experts.” As a result, product discovery is now moving from inside-out to outside-in.

As product managers, we need to have access to customers and relevant data to start the product discovery process. If you don’t have access to customers, you have to figure out where to connect with them. Furthermore, the same is true for data. If you don’t have a great culture for data or metrics, you have to take time to instrument your product design process.

Ultimately, this means that your next feature might not be released as quickly. That said, when you release a feature that doesn’t make an impact, you’ll know exactly why because of data-driven insights.

When this process kicks off, our goal is to figure out ways in which we can solve problems for customers. However, many product managers make the mistake of jumping right into creating solutions instead of framing up the overall opportunity. Committing to fully understanding the opportunity is where strategy drives product management. For instance, you think about solving problems that create the most value for the business and your customers.

In summary, modern product design incorporates much more humility through product discovery than it did in the past. Product managers are all smart and capable of delivering value for customers. However, the needs of customers need to inform every aspect of what we build. Ultimately, we can create better products by actively listening to what our customers actually want.

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About the speaker
Teresa Torres Product Talk, Product Discovery Coach Member

Teresa Torres is a product discovery coach who helps teams adopt user-centered, hypothesis-driven product development practices. Torres helps companies integrate user research, experimentation, and analytics into the product development process, resulting in better product decisions. She writes about these topics at Before coaching, Torres was the vice president of product at AfterCollege, a startup that helps college students find their first job. Prior to that, she was the CEO of Affinity Circles, an online community provider for university alumni associations and a social recruiting service used by Fortune 500 companies.

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