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How to Run a Product Discovery Workshop (With Templates and Examples)

10 Nov 20228 mins read
Tomas Prochazka
How to Run a Product Discovery Workshop (With Templates and Examples)
By Tomas Prochazka
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There are several ways to look at a product discovery workshop. 

Some teams may view these sessions as briefing meetings, where everyone involved gets together to discuss the scope of the work and why it’s important. 

Others may see these workshops as vital problem-solving exercises; now that we know what we’re building, what issues can we expect and how can we mitigate them? 

Each of these definitions would be right — as would any other articulation of a product discovery workshop that seeks to explore a product’s potential and how the business will make it a success.

What are the main benefits of a product discovery workshop?

1. Helps reduce costs

First, hosting a product discovery workshop helps reduce costs in the long term. By ensuring that everyone is on the same page early on, you can prevent mistakes, time spent undoing and/or redoing work, and the number of conversations you need to have with stakeholders in your team. 

In other words, establishing a strong foundation early on is crucial in preventing unexpected costs later down the line. It's a great preventative measure in this way and especially important for those working with a tight budget. 

2. Improves product delivery

Another benefit of product discovery workshop exercises is that they help improve your product delivery. We’ve all worked on at least one build that seemed to go off-piste, unexpectedly, right before launch. Unforeseen issues, misunderstandings that need to be corrected, and other errors can seemingly crop up out of nowhere in every product team. 

A product discovery workshop is a great way to prevent these instances from happening. Again, it's all about preparing a solid foundation so that everything goes over smoothly later on. 

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3. Helps you meet your users’ needs

Perhaps the most important benefit of a product discovery workshop is that it makes it far easier to meet or even exceed your end users’ needs. 

Customer feedback can reveal valuable insights once your product is already live. But the product discovery workshop provides an opportunity to get everyone aligned on who the end user is and what problem you’re looking to solve for them — before anything gets built. The product team may summarize and share user personas, early testing results, and other research-backed artifacts to perfectly set the scene.

4. Speeds up production

Another important benefit of investing in a product discovery workshop is that it can speed up your production process. This is largely due to all of the benefits we've covered so far. 

Reducing mistakes, removing confusion, and aligning expectations are all great ways to keep production running smoothly. And sometimes, if you're lucky, things can go better than smooth and you could end up launching early. 

5. Aligns everyone on the project

Again, this benefit largely goes hand-in-hand with everything else that we've been covering. Following a product discovery workshop template is an excellent way to make sure that everyone is aligned on the project. 

This is also why it's necessary that all team members and stakeholders are included in the workshop. Having everyone in one place at the same time is one of the best ways to ensure that everyone is clear on their role and what's expected from the finished product. 

6. Sets the tone for the rest of the development process

As mentioned above, running a product discovery workshop also has the benefit of setting the tone for the rest of the development process. In a way it's a lot like a handshake, giving everyone a feel for where they stand, what the aims of the rest of the involved individuals are, and so on. 

discovery

What happens during a product discovery workshop?

Alright, so we've covered the benefits of a product discovery workshop and the general idea of what it is. But you are probably still wondering, what actually takes place during a product discovery workshop?

Well, the answer is: a lot. During a workshop, you and your team will discuss the end users’ goals and needs, opportunities for the product, and the technologies and platforms that will be involved. 

You'll also cover things like logistics, your budget, objectives and outcomes, who is going to be assigned what role, and so on. 

In essence, the idea is to cover all of the basic groundwork and accept feedback as you do so. 

How long does a product discovery workshop take?

The ideal duration of a product discovery workshop may depend on how many people are invited and need to feed in, how complex the product you’re discussing is, and how much time you have until launch! Generally, one day should be plenty of time to complete a workshop. 

If a full day sounds too long, consider how much information you are going to be covering during the workshop. You aren't just touching base on various points, but also getting insights, advice, questions, and general feedback from everyone involved in the workshop. 

Who participates in a product discovery workshop?

Speaking of those involved, let's now cover the specifics of who should be involved in a product discovery workshop agenda. The answer to this question is quite broad because you'll want to try and include everyone. 

That means including all of your stakeholders (the client, your higher-ups, and other product managers) and most if not all of your team. This way, everyone is at least present to soak up the information you cover, and ideally able to ask questions or provide insights during the workshop. 

Discovery workshop template

A product discovery workshop template agenda

You’ll want to design your workshop agenda around your specific needs, but the below schedule contains all of the essentials in one template.

Discovery workshop template

What are the deliverables from a product discovery workshop?

Align product vision and purpose 

The first major outcome you can expect to gain from engaging in a product discovery workshop is that everyone should be aligned on your product vision and purpose. If this doesn't happen, then you've probably taken a misstep somewhere. 

We already covered the benefits of this alignment, so just know that it's something you should expect to gain from holding a workshop. 

Set clear, SMART goals

Next, you should collect some SMART goals from your product discovery workshop. For those that don't know, a SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. 

In other words, they're exactly the kind of goals that you should be striving for whenever embarking on a product development cycle. It's a way to set goals that are realistic for your team and necessary to the successful completion of your build. 

Define your value proposition

Another important deliverable that can come from a product discovery workshop is a definition of your value proposition. This is something that both you and your client/manager can work on collaboratively during the workshop. 

However you define the value of the product you're trying to create, know that this is one of the best times to do so. Everyone will be in the same room, so there should be no misunderstanding about the "why" of your product. 

Define target audience, user personas, and more

One of the best things that can come from a product discovery workshop is that it'll clue everyone in on your target audience and user personas. This is something that, too often, ends up being left to the manager and marketing team alone. 

However, defining these aspects of your product can go a long way towards improving the design of your product, improving the testing phases, and otherwise providing your development team with critical ideas on how to design the product. 

Start to work on user journeys

User journeys are another facet of product development that often end up being left to marketing teams, which leaves your development team sorely out of the loop. 

Fortunately, you can change this by spending the extra time upfront on a product discovery workshop. During the workshop, you can come up with rudimentary user journeys that can inform various individuals on how to better perform their role in the development process. 

Define success metrics

Again, this is a detail that you should have during every product development cycle. However, the information is largely kept between the stakeholders and product manager, leaving the rest of your team a bit more aimless than they need to be. 

During your workshop, you can start to define your success metrics. This will help everyone involved know how to better prioritize their individual goals and work. 

How do you define the goals of your product discovery workshop?

Okay, let's be realistic for a moment. 

You probably aren't going to be able to cover all of these topics, benefits, and deliverables in depth during a single product discovery workshop. So how do you go about ensuring you get the most bang for your buck during a workshop?

As with anything tied to product development, you achieve this by defining the goals of your workshop. Out of all of the benefits and deliverables we've covered so far, which are most important to you? What about your current project? List these goals and make them the focus of your workshop. 

Discovery workshop template

Tips for running a successful product discovery workshop

Keep the workshop focused

For starters, you'll want to keep the product discovery workshop focused. A great way to do this is to outline your goals ahead of time, as well as practice what you're going to say and ask early on. 

Encourage participation from all of your team members

Next, you'll want to encourage participation from all of your team members and stakeholders. To avoid running into hesitant participants, you can pass around an object, indicating that it is the object holder's time to speak. This way, everyone has a chance to share their thoughts and ideas. 

Take breaks for brainstorming

With only one day to successfully navigate your product discovery workshop, it can feel like you're in a rush. However, taking breaks can actually give you better results. Giving people time to brainstorm and mull things over is a key way to get quality feedback

Be prepared to pivot

Lastly, be prepared to pivot. 

A workshop is an organic process, and you may find that certain insights or questions change the course of your workshop. As long as this doesn't interfere with your goals, it's probably worth leaning into. 

Product discovery workshop questions to cover

During product discovery workshop exercises, you'll encounter similar types of questions from your team and stakeholders. Some of the most common questions include: 

  • What's the purpose of the product?

  • What's the problem you want to solve?

  • How will you differentiate yourself in the market?

  • Who are your users?

  • What's important to them?

  • What kind of problems do they have?

By being aware of these questions ahead of time, you can answer them during the workshop so that you save time when you're ready to take questions from your audience. 

Discover even more insights with airfocus

And that's it! That's everything you need to know before conducting your first product discovery workshop. 

In this guide, we outlined a template agenda for your next product discovery workshop. And you know where to head for other useful templates from the airfocus team.

We’ve also got our official airfocus ebook ‘How To Use Customer Feedback for Business Growth’. This can help you prepare for both the product discovery workshop exercises and your overall product management approach. A good start also can be using airfocus' prioritization. Check this feature now.

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