When any business launches a product, challenges crop up a dime a dozen. Not being able to scale beyond core customers or product offerings, grappling with low product adoption rates and avoiding competitor migration are quite common. But while solving a problem might restore normalcy, businesses thrive on opportunities and real growth comes from the timely discovery of it.
As product designers, we devote an enormous amount of time and research on problem-solving, whereas very little research concerns problem finding and even less on opportunity finding.
Before you can see an opportunity, you have to be looking for opportunity.
In the quest to uncover the area of 'where to play' next for your product, we recommend starting with a divergent, bird's eye view and then funnelling down to zero in on clarity in due time. While a detailed post will follow, the steps at a quick glance look a little like this:
- 📊Data collection: Data is crucial, we know it. Understanding both the organisation and the outside world thoroughly is also crucial, we know it. Data collection that supports both these directions of inquiries (User problems, long term goals and regulations, competitor knowledge, direct differentiators et al) can help you credibly find out factors that will influence the organisation's future direction, decide on benchmarks, and identify what the product is and is not.
- 🔍Sense making: Once you've taken a deep dive into the raw data, it makes sense to make sense of the data (see what we did there!) and find patterns, intersections or common themes. Now comes the time to shift the perspective and turn the uncovered problems into opportunity areas. Get your teams together, the whiteboard and post its out, even if virtual, and start brainstorming because a collective working session never hurt anyone. The end goal is to focus on every user pain point, every industry pattern and every how might we question, sort out all your ideas creatively, and finally identify the key opportunity areas.
- 🏆Direct decisions: With a clear summary of the depth and breadth of all opportunities, you are uniquely equipped to then get the decision-makers on board, align with the business goals and narrow down on the most important opportunities that will drive the needed product outcomes. Think frameworks (AARRR is a great example), leverage all the evidence you've gathered and use storytelling skills to present a complete picture.
Proactive opportunity finding can not only help innovate and grow one's user base, but also guide with a unified design direction and explore and solve problems beforehand. And consistently identifying the changing needs or market landscape is key. However, in the process of creating a roadmap that can drive outcomes for the future, this is only the first step. Keep yer eyes peeled for our detailed blog, but for now, all we will say is this: Great opportunities don't come everyday -- recognise and seize them with every chance you get.