Key Takeaways from Continuous Discovery Habits

Product Management
May 15, 2023
6 mins read

“ A digital product is never done,”- says Teresa Torres in her book Continuous Discovery Habits

This is the first aspect every product team needs to realize when working on a digital product. The dynamic nature of digital products demands constant adaptation and evolution.  In order to remain relevant and evolve with the changing needs, you must continuously strive towards it. 

Outdated practices of infrequent customer interviews and rare product iterations often lead to product failure. To overcome these pitfalls, businesses must adopt continuous discovery habits. By co-creating with customers, you can build products they truly desire and ensure lasting success.

Teresa Torres lays out the concept of continuous discovery in her book Continuous Discovery Habits, which lays bare a structured and sustainable product discovery process.

Torres explains the primary intention behind the book as follows:

“...Book was written for product trio(product managers, designers, and software engineers) who want to build products that their customers need and love”

So, let's dive into some key insights from Continuous Discovery Habits and kickstart your customer-centric product development journey!

What is Continuous Discovery? 

In the book Continuous Discovery Habits, Torres introduces us to a working definition of continuous discovery. It goes like this:

“At a minimum, weekly touchpoints with customers

By the team building the product

Where they conduct small research activities

In pursuit of a desired outcome.”

The definition may appear confusing at first glance, but it becomes clearer upon closer examination. Let us break it down for you. 

Maintaining regular engagement with customers is essential to create a product that resonates with customers and ensures long-term use. Engaging with customers on a weekly basis fosters continuous discovery process. In this way, you will be able to co-create with customers for the customers.  The product trio must work cross-functionally and have the authority to decide what to build next. Moreover, they should engage in extensive research to reach the desired outcome. 

In short, continuous discovery is an iterative process in product development that emphasizes maintaining close contact with customers, comprehending their needs, and modifying the product in light of insights obtained from routine research and testing. 

One key aspect of continuous discovery is finding a structured way to explore customer needs and potential solutions. This is where the Opportunity Solution Tree comes into play. So, what exactly is the Opportunity Solution Tree? Let’s take a look at it. 

What is Opportunity Solution Tree? 

The opportunity solution tree, developed by Torres,  is a visual roadmap that helps you reach the desired outcome in a customer-centric manner. The opportunity solution tree (OST) organizes and facilitates the process of continuous discovery. This is what an OST looks like:

Opportunity Solution Tree

Opportunity solution tree is a great way to discover what to build next. You can begin by defining a clear outcome. Followed by this, discover and map out the opportunity space and find solutions that need opportunities. Here, by opportunity, Torres implies customer pain points, needs, and desires.  

In the book Continuous Discovery Habits, Torres also explains the benefits of using the Opportunity Solution Tree to decide what to build next. 

Key Benefits of Opportunity Solution Tree

  • OST helps the product trio in breaking down project-sized opportunities into a series of smaller opportunities.
  • It resolves the tension between customer needs and business needs.
  • OST fosters a shared understanding among the trio on how to reach the desired outcome.
  • OST helps product trios develop a continuous mindset, unlocking fast learning cycles.
  • It facilitates stakeholder management by making it easier for them to understand the product trio work process. 
  • OST enables the product trio to make informed decisions.

OST accentuates the importance of a customer-centric approach in the product development process. Integrating this framework into your product discovery process will establish a culture of continuous discovery. Now let us look at the habits that would make continuous discovery a continuous process in your product development journey to yield impactful results. 

What are Continuous Discovery Habits?

Torres explains at the beginning of the book Continuous Discovery Habits that the product trio must cultivate six mindsets to successfully adopt the habits outlined in the book. They are:

  1. Outcome-oriented
  2. Customer-centric
  3. Collaborative
  4. Visual
  5. Experimental
  6. Continuous

These mindsets form the foundation of a structured and sustainable approach to product development. Embracing these mindsets paves the way for effective product discovery and development, ensuring that the products created deliver both customer and business value. Teresa Torres emphasizes the following continuous discovery habits as key components of the continuous discovery process:

Continuous Discovery Habits

Define a Desired Outcome

Torres outlines, “Use your desired outcome as the north star.” Starting your journey with outcomes instead of outputs paves the way for product success. When you begin your journey by defining outcomes, you can explore multiple solutions that help you reach your desired outcome. This approach helps you to be more dynamic and adaptive, which leads to products that customers value and use over the years to come. 

Discover Opportunities Through Interviews

Throughout Continuous Discovery Habits, Torres emphasizes the importance of continuous customer interviews to frame a customer-centric approach to product development. She urges to make talking to customers weekly a keystone habit. “ The keystone habit builds motivation for the subsequent habits.”

Interviews help you uncover the opportunities and thereby lead you toward the desired outcome. In order to make this a habit, she advises automating the interview process and framing the right questions to make the most out of them. 

Visualize What You Learn

Teresa Torres unveils the impact of visualization in the product discovery process. Visual tools and frameworks can represent information gathered through continuous discovery activities like customer interviews, research, and experiments.

This is where she introduces the concept of opportunity solution tree and experience maps. These visualization frameworks promote collaboration among the trio and inform their product decisions. 

Prioritize a Target Opportunity

Teresa Torres suggests concentrating on one opportunity at a time and tackling sub-opportunities incrementally to make progress more manageable. In order to combat cognitive biases, Torres suggests adopting a "compare and contrast" mindset rather than a "whether or not" mindset when prioritizing a target opportunity.  

Product teams like yours can successfully prioritize and deploy resources by comparing and contrasting parent opportunities. This process enables continuous learning and adaptability. “The beauty of continuous discovery is that we can always course-correct as we learn”.

Brainstorm Solutions

Torres advises team members to generate solutions initially on their own before coming together to map them out. This strategy fosters and opens the door for creative solutions. Creating a customer experience map can help identify opportunities and clarify the thought process. Afterward, team members can share their individual experience maps in order to gain insights into each other's perspectives and ideas, facilitating effective collaboration and promoting a holistic understanding.

Identify Hidden Assumptions

Torres emphasizes that teams frequently make decisions based on unproven or unvalidated assumptions, which can result in subpar outcomes or products that don't satisfy customer needs. She suggests that you use story mapping to uncover the underlying assumptions. You may conduct research, experiments, or customer interviews to gather evidence that either supports or refutes the assumptions. After this step, you will be testing these assumptions to come to a conclusion.

Rapid Test Assumptions

Torres accentuates the importance of testing assumptions through compare and contrast approach to tackle confirmation bias and escalation of commitment. You can establish a success criteria upfront to avoid any kind of confusion or bias post-testing. You can engage in a quick iteration based on different data points for informed product decisions. Assumptions can be tested through rapid prototyping, one-question surveys, or product data analysis.

Measure impact through delivery

Teresa Torres advises product teams to utilize their desired goal as the compass or "north star" during development. Identify the metrics that match your evaluation criteria well before you start building prototypes. Analyze how changes to the product affect the desired results while keeping viability in mind. Teams can contribute to the overall growth and success of the company by providing product outcomes that drive business outcomes. 

Teresa Torres suggests product teams adopt these habits to make the product development process more customer-centric. Moreover, she highlights that these habits will help you in continuous discovery, enabling you to build products that create customer and business value. 

Want a companion to step into these habits? Well, can be your ultimate ally. Schedule a demo today to learn more about!

Also Read:

17 Must-Read Books for Product Managers

11 Best Product Management Podcasts to Follow in 2023

Top 15 Newsletters for Product Managers


Athira V S
Content Writer
​​As a lover of words and a teller of tales, I use my writing skills to create content that engages, entertains, and enlightens business enthusiasts far and wide.
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