Product manager? Level-up daily with role plays, quizzes, tailored lessons + more
Try it out - free

What is stopping you from doing more discovery?

What are the top time consumers (apart from meetings and comms) that you wish were easier, so you could spend more time talking to customers and validating hypothesis?

For me - it’s the backlog management and firefighting.

Our response

Author: Joe Tannorella
Rocket Role Team
I think it depends on how you to define discovery, as people talk about it differently without realising.

Are you open to uncovering completely new opportunities and putting experiments in place to explore them further? Or are you talking about doing user testing on features you already have planned?

I know that seems like a crazy distinction but the simple term has complex misunderstandings sometimes, so it's worth clarifying...

What is taking the most time when it comes to backlog and firefighting?

A common failure mode I see (and have experienced myself) is engineers expecting every ticket to be meticulous before they even start looking at it. A lot of that is cultural and hard to change, but one movement you can make is to begin talking about your vision, strategy, and user feedback more. You'll notice more ideas and excitement start to come from the team.

When it comes to firefighting, what does this look like? E.g. saying no to stakeholders; intervening because engineering have built something different to what you expect; prioritising bugs; etc. etc.?

We also asked some experts...

Advice from thousands of podcasts episodes, including:


Here's what they had to say:

🎯 Optimize Customer Discovery
Customer discovery is a crucial part of product management. Oji Udezue, in his interview, distinguishes between discovery (using customer conversations to understand a specific workflow) and continuous conversations (regularly scheduled customer interactions). He emphasizes the importance of reducing friction in the process, as this can often be a barrier to effective discovery.

Try this: Automate the scheduling of customer conversations for your PMs, designers, engineering managers, and PMMs. Train them on how to have these conversations effectively.
Source: Picking Sharp Problems, Increasing Virality, and Unique Product Frameworks: Oji Udezue – Lenny's podcast

🔍 Focus on Discovery and Psychological Safety
Janna Bastow points out two key factors that separate the best product teams from mediocre ones: a focus on discovery and psychological safety. Teams that spend time in discovery, ask questions of customers, and iterate based on feedback tend to perform better. Psychological safety allows team members to question each other and speak up when things are wrong, leading to less siloed thinking.

Try this: Encourage your team to spend more time in discovery and foster an environment of psychological safety.
Source: Building Better Product Roadmaps: Janna Bastow – Lenny's podcast

🔬 Balance Discovery and Build Streams
Hareem Mannan suggests thinking about a designer's work in two streams: discovery and build. The discovery stream involves high-level questions that take time to answer, while the build stream involves iterating on specific features. Balancing these two streams can help manage time effectively.

Try this: Divide your work into discovery and build streams, and allocate time to each based on your priorities.
Source: Episode 43: Hareem Mannan on What Makes a Great Designer – First Round Review

Closing Summary

To manage time effectively, focus on optimizing customer discovery, fostering psychological safety within your team, and balancing discovery and build streams in your work. These strategies can help you spend more time talking to customers and validating hypotheses, and less time on backlog management and firefighting.

All "ask an expert content" does not represent the views of any expert or individual. All provided links are not affiliated or operated by Rocket Role.

Get 7-days free product coaching

Quick install now

7-day trial. No card Required.
Then just $30/month.

7-day Free trial

Advice tailored to you

Accelerate your career

$30 / Month

Unlimited practice drills
Unlimited memory – advice 100% personalised to you
Unlimited action plans
Available directly in Slack
Accountability to keep improving your skills
Access to Product Manager Slack community
Get Started
Accelerate your career

$9 / Month (paid annually)

Unlimited practice drills
Unlimited memory – advice 100% personalised to you
Unlimited action plans
Available directly in Slack
Accountability to keep improving your skills
Access to Product Manager Slack community