Creating a discovery practice to drive product outcomes

To identify opportunities and kill assumptions—Creates confidence and shipping more value often.

I’ve been working at Open Universities Australia for little over two years now. I’ve worked on many parts of its marketplace for higher-education. Supporting five product teams to deliver quant and qual research, wireflows, and concepts.

As the UX designer lead at Open Universities Australia, I often wear many hats, but my focus is always to ensure that the product teams are creating value for the customers.

My continuous discovery practice, averages talking to customers every five days. Gathering early input and validation from customers to save time and increase confidence.

I started by crafting research questions to drive product outcomes. By mapping product teams OKRs to opportunities and identifying assumptions. Prioritising those critical assumptions and testing them early and often. To iteratively exploring these ideas, de-risking and shipping more value often.

Measuring metrics only work if they truly are leading indicators of our lagging indicator—driving our desired outcomes.
- Teresa Torres

Continuous discovery is about driving better decisions and confidence to the product process. By creating a good discovery practice that drives outcomes. Reduces risk and builds confidence in the goal, I’ve helped lead teams to hitting more outcomes more consistently.

I’ve had to build trust with the insights. In a culture that preferred quantitive data, I needed to show the value of qualitative research by giving a voice to those individuals, the jobs they were trying to achieve and experience they had with our products. The hardest part was to change mindsets that assumptions about the data can be wrong. Once Product Managers and Engineers started to see alternatives they were more open and conversations about what we were learning became unbiased, even contradicted some well established beliefs.

If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.
- Ken Robinson

Now we’re able to work backwards from a business outcome, connecting the dots from what we learn in regular customer interviews to the product decisions we make.

Whilst we’ve been measuring the effectiveness of our discovery activities, each quarters by how many days has it been between speaking to a customer. I’m working towards, measuring how long it has been since we last killed an assumption.