The first step to gaining in-depth insight and actionable suggestions is defining the scope of the problem, issue, or contemplated business change. The topic at hand should be looked at from every angle – as well as other topics that may be indirectly impacted. While this may sound simple, it is complex and crucial for successful discovery.
Once you have defined the scope of the topic, the next and equally challenging step is to define the right questions and how they should be asked. There are so many facets to consider! 9Lenses has distilled all these considerations down to four key principles.
- Outcome-Oriented Design
When designing your discovery interview, keep in mind what a successful outcome will look like. Do you have several hypotheses you need to test? Do you need a list of five actionable steps for improvement? A combination of both or neither of the above? Success will vary based on the topic, so tailor your questions to give you the outcomes you need to succeed.
- Targeted Questions/Topics
In most cases, there will be numerous questions you can ask around a topic. Narrow these down to the key questions that will diagnose root causes rather than define symptoms.
- Engaging Questions
The key to getting the most out of your targeted and outcome-oriented questions is actively engaging the participants in your discovery process. Rather than simply asking participants to rank impact issue have, ask them why and what should be done to improve. Don’t limit yourself to flat questions such as “Do we offer the right services to our customers?” This will only give you flat data! Actively engaging everyone with visibility into an issue will give you an in-depth understanding as well as robust suggestions for improvement.
- Bias-Free Phrasing
When asking questions, it is incredibly important to make sure that the phrasing of the questions (as well as any answers which participants can select) do not tilt answers in any direction. For example, rather than asking “To what extent does this negatively impact your productivity?” try asking “What impact does this have on your day-to-day productivity?” Give participants the ability to provide answers that accurately represent their opinions on the issue.
The next step in successful discovery is getting people to participate and provide feedback! At 9Lenses, we focus on both good participation rates and active engagement from those who participate.
First, identify all relevant stakeholders – both those directly and indirectly affected by the given topic. This will give you a 360 degree understanding of the issue, as well as a variety of takes on what needs to be done in order to improve.
The key is to ask the right questions of those who have a vested interest in and desire to provide feedback. Reaching out to the right people will both boost participation and get you more valuable data.
Second, intentionally communicate with those that are being invited to provide feedback. Before invitees even receive the invitation to participate in their email, 9Lenses strongly encourages a recognizable executive to personally email the invitees. In this email, the executive communicates several things:
- The purpose of the software interview
- Why each person should participate
- Expectations of what participation would entail
- A promise to communicate the results and ensuing actions
When invitees understand why the engagement is being conducted and what the intended outcome is, they become personally invested in the outcomes. Encouraging individual buy-in will result in higher participation rates and more meaningful feedback.