Discovery work is a really helpful way of showing the value of iterative, user-centred delivery to stakeholders who might not be familiar with working this way. (For a fantastic example of this in action, see this brilliant stuff from the Digital Land team at MHCLG.)
There are often reasonable concerns about how to accommodate a changing scope and undefined outcomes within the governance and funding processes people are used to working with. Starting with a shared focus on finding out more about the problem that needs solving, helps to find a common language and purpose.
As well as helping product teams understand their problem space and users better before they start developing a service, discovery helps the people who are responsible for budgets and policy in an organisation in some important ways.
An open conversation
Discovery helps everyone in an organisation have an open conversation about what the problem is, how serious it is, and who’s affected. It helps to define and express the potential value of solving that problem, whilst keeping users, systems and collectives at the centre of the conversation.
Understanding the risk
It takes some of the perceived risk out of bigger projects, especially those that are likely to disrupt existing and well-understood processes, systems or tools. No matter how flawed those are, moving away from something you know almost always feels riskier than staying where you are.
Making the right decision about what to do next
It also helps inform what happens next, so that organisations can make the right decisions about how they’ll explore solving the problems that get identified.
They might choose to do an alpha to evaluate several options, or they might choose to pause further work because the impact doesn’t stack up given the time, money and people they have available and the other problems they’ve got to solve. They might choose to do some work in-house, or they might explore bringing in a supplier to deliver an outcome or service. They might choose to buy a solution off the shelf.
Setting you up for change
A discovery can be the prompt for a conversation you didn’t realise you needed to have, that sets your organisation up for exciting change.
Stay tuned for my next blog post about embracing the unknowns and making the most of the discovery phase.