Q&A: what kinds of questions should I be asking in discovery?

I was recently asked this question:

During the problem exploration phase, what kind of questions should I be asking and how do I go from 1000 problems to the core problems that will unlock the solution?

Read on for my answer:

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Should the product manager and product owner be the same person?

I recently read the question on the difference between the product manager and product owner on Quora and ended up sharing my opinion – at length. So I’ve decided to publish it here for posterity. Needless to say, there are other answers and other opinions, all equally valid.

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38: Product managers learn by doing

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

Many years ago, my parents bought me my first PC. It was fairly pricy at the time, and represented the end of my reliance on stolen minutes on other people’s computers. And because I’m a muppet, the very first thing I did was to brick it by attempting an ill-advised upgrade.

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Big Data – Big Deal?

Everyone seems to be hyping Big Data right now.  I think we’ve reached that slightly scary point where CEOs are aware of Big Data and are beginning to think it a panacea for all business ills.  But I’m asking the question: what’s the big deal with Big Data?

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19: How to regain control of your inbox

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

Product managers just loooove solving problems and answering questions.  Emails present us with an enticing list of both, which is why we find it so hard to tear ourselves away from them.  I reveal three quick tips to show you how you can regain control of your inbox after the break!

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18: Five ways to manage distractions better

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

As product managers, our workload intensity tends to be cyclical and sometimes these cycles can stack up.  Distractions can seriously dent your ability to Get Stuff Done™, so here are five things you can try out to manage distractions more effectively.

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4: Don’t focus on what’s stopping you

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

Product managers can be creatures of habit.  Some habits are good and give us a consistent and diligent approach.   Sometimes, though, we allow ourselves to be constrained by habitual thinking, inhibiting true innovation.

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3: Know your subject matter

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

So much of being a product manager depends on successfully persuading and influencing others.  Whether you’re presenting your product strategy, presenting a business case to the Board or talking with your customers, you need to demonstrate a good knowledge of your products and market to ensure that you come over as authoritative and credible.  Continue reading

Lo-fi usability testing – Part 3: Ten top tips

We’ve already covered in the previous articles what usability is and why you need to test it and what you need to do to prepare for your usability tests.  In this thrilling* conclusion to the trilogy, we get down to the nitty-gritty of how to run the tests and how to interpret and act on the results.

* It all depends on your perspective
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Questions you need to be asking

There are many questions that a product manager needs to ask to determine the best course of action or to analyse underlying motivations.  Of them, I use the following three questions most often:

  1. So what?
  2. Why?
  3. What’s stopping us?

So what?

Use this repeatedly to uncover the true benefit of something rather than simply features of the proposition.  For example:

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