Product Discovery addresses 4 types of critical risks. The objective is to collect evidence that a solution to be developed later during Product Delivery will actually solve the customer's problem. More specifically, 4 key risks have to be considered during Product Discovery:

To eliminate these risks, we need to collect evidence instead of having opinions. In many cases, most of these risks can easily be eliminated, e.g. feasibility mostly being an issue when it comes to something never done before, a complete new technology stack or performance requirements way beyond anything done before – but even then it is helpful, as a team, to jointly agree on this view.

Value Risk

Sometimes also referred to as desirability, value is the benefit a customer gets by using a product or service. For most products and features, value is the most important risk because if there is no value, then all other aspects won't matter. Also, value is in the eyes of the customers: When at a later stage problems are encountered with the usability, with performance, with reliability and all that — these can be fixed. But if there is no demand, then nothing else matters.

In most situations, customers will already solve a task in one way or another. Note that this might be a completely different approach to get the job done, it might use a completely different set of tools. Consequently, not only has a new solution to provide value but it has to be substantially better than a previous solution to also justify switching costs.

<aside> 💡 Example: Fast food company Burger King in 2013 introduced Satisfries and advertised it as a healthier alternative to traditional french fries. The new fries were also more expensive than regular ones. In the end, the product was a failure, and quickly discontinued, because consumers did not see any value in it.


Specifically in Enterprise B2B, note that there might even be conflicting perceptions of value: while the buyer and decision maker could aim primarily for compliance, transparency and efficiency gains, daily users might prefer flexibility and convenience.

Usability Risk

The key aspect of usability is: even when there is a potential value, even when users want to use a product — will they actually be able to? Will they be able to utilize it in the exact context when they need it, with the skills they have, will they even enjoy it?

In a bit more detail, there are 5 factors to usability, also referred to as 5-Es

To assess usability, it is crucial to have the specific target group in mind, the personas who are supposed to actually be using the product. Because their skills, their experience may differ from other groups of people just as the context of product utilization might be specific. As an example consider office environments, with stationary PCs on desks, and compare these to the factory floor and harsh environments, potentially even with sparse Internet connectivity. Skills and expectations of users will be very different in both environments, as is the context of using a tool.

<aside> 💡 Example: Maxwell House Brewed Coffee was ready-to-drink, pre-brewed cold coffee, sold in a carton. Promising superior convenience to consumers, also with the picture of a hot mug on the packaging, it was in fact the opposite: hard to handle, and due to packaging couldn't be microwaved. The coffee was discontinued shortly after the release for poor usability.


Feasibility Risk

The question here is: How confident are we that we can actually build and operate the product we envision?