Understanding continuous discovery - the basics

Sam Hancock
February 1, 2024

What is continuous discovery?

You've poured months of hard work and dedication into developing a groundbreaking product feature. The launch day arrives, and anticipation fills the air. However, the excitement dwindles within weeks as user feedback trickles in, revealing unforeseen issues and a mismatch between your product and user expectations. Sound familiar? This scenario highlights a pervasive problem in product development – the gap between what teams think users want and what users need.

The problem

Traditional research often follows a linear, project-based approach. Research is either conducted at specific milestones, and findings are implemented in a phased manner or not at all. While this method has its merits, it fails to capture the dynamic and fast-paced nature of integrating research into the entire product development lifecycle.

The solution 

Continuous discovery regularly gathers data and insights from your users and their behaviour to inform design and product decisions. To underscore the effectiveness of Continuous Discovery, we turn to the work of Teressa Torres. Her book, Continuous Discovery Habits emphasises integrating user feedback seamlessly into the product development process. Torres advocates for a mindset shift, where research becomes habitual. 

Torres' insights guide cross-functional product teams and trios (product, design & tech) to work together. Organisations can ensure that they meet and exceed user expectations by making user feedback an ingrained part of the development culture.

The continuous discovery framework works in a way that puts research at the forefront of your discovery and opportunity analysis. By setting a clear outcome, interviewing to discover opportunities, and taking assumption tests to evaluate solutions quickly, you can align your product team to business goals, keep your stakeholders engaged, and keep your finger on your users' needs.

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Who can benefit from continuous discovery

Continuous Discovery can be a strategic asset for businesses at every stage if you sit in one or many of the following buckets: 



When your start-up founder is motivated to test their ideas, are they more likely to notice evidence that suggests their idea is fantastic and miss the evidence that suggests their concept is flawed?

It's common. A concept called 'escalation of commitment' is referenced in Robert Cialdini's book, Influence. By incorporating a Continuous Discovery approach, you ensure guardrails are in place to mitigate risk by facilitating quick pivots and ensuring valuable runway is maintained by acting on valid assumptions. 

Feature factories 

Does your organisation fund projects periodically, and as a product team, are you measured on how quickly you deliver feature after feature? 

Your organisation may have fixed assumptions that are outdated and not tested. Continuous Discovery can help incorporate real-time insights into strategic decisions to make informed choices aligning with user expectations and business goals. 

Agile teams

Are you adopting agile methodologies and working directly with product managers, designers, and engineers? 

You are speaking to customers sporadically, and it takes a lot of effort to do so. However, the opinions of key decision-makers often trump the views of customers. Continuous Discovery employs a slight tweak to define products based on real-time insights, ensuring your growth aligns with user preferences and business priorities.


We've identified what organisation types struggle to implement research techniques into their discovery. But what roles and teams can benefit from Continuous Discovery?

Product trios

Test assumptions in a day or two, not weeks. The goal of Continuous Discovery is to work on a faster cadence as opposed to perfect research. This cadence helps give key stakeholders and decision-makers a constant pulse on user sentiment and market dynamics.

Marketing teams

Ensure marketing efforts are creative and deeply rooted in understanding user needs, enhancing overall campaign effectiveness. Leveraging a data-driven strategy can ensure you can craft campaigns that resonate with your audience.

Data insights/analytics teams

Look beyond raw numbers. This real-time information adds crucial context to quantitative insights. By understanding the "why" behind the metrics, these teams can derive more nuanced and actionable insights with data-driven strategies.

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How to run continuous discovery

Effective product discovery begins by translating business outcomes into tangible metrics the product team can influence and contribute to achieving overarching business goals. When trialling a Continuous Discovery Project, we recommend a project with multiple touch points across the business, initially going broad to go laser-focused with later assumptions. 

1. Agree on an outcome 

  • A business outcome often focuses on financial metrics or strategic initiatives.
    e.g. We want to increase customer acquisition or reduce churn. 
  • To align these with the product development process, the product trio must define a product outcome,
    e.g. We want to improve the user onboarding experience and conversion rate. 

Your product outcomes measure customer behaviours within the product, acting as leading indicators of broader business success.

2. Setup and cadence of interviews

Define the number of weekly interviews, session length and eligibility criteria of your participants. At Askable, we recommend 3 a week. The interviews focus on learning about customer needs, pain points, and desires around the key theme. 

e.g. We want to speak with customers that have signed up to a free trial in the last 30-days

3. Sharing insights with stakeholders

Begin by testing and iterating on the gathered assumptions with your core product team. As the process gains momentum, expand the sharing of insights to include teams closely tied to the business problem, such as business stakeholders, decision-makers, marketing, and data insights teams.

4. Create an Opportunity Solution Tree

The weekly insight report provides context for your assumptions, but helps inform your product team and business stakeholders. These findings feed into the Opportunity Solution Tree. Helping map out potential solutions for identified opportunities, fostering a structured approach to decision-making in your product development journey.

Why your team should dive in

In the ever-changing landscape of product development, Continuous discovery allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of user expectations. This approach has proven to mitigate risk, facilitate early issue detection, increase product adoption and satisfaction, and optimise resource allocation. 

Take Newsperform's success story. Faced with a challenge to convert web traffic into premium subscribers, they leveraged Askable Plus for Continuous Discovery. This led to significant operational efficiencies, a strategic pivot based on newfound customer insights, and enhanced customer-centric decision-making.

Discover the full impact of Continuous Discovery on Newsperform and how it transformed their approach to customer engagement and strategy.

Unlock continuous discovery with Askable

Worried about the learning curve or resource constraints? Askable can seamlessly streamline your continuous discovery process, offering actionable insights every week. With experienced Askable Plus researchers, you can dive into projects confidently and effortlessly. Our approach provides expert-led research, effortless project management, and flexibility. This ensures that your research not only aligns with your specific needs but also consistently delivers valuable insights.

Sam Hancock

Askable Plus Researcher

Sam brings 15 years of experience in crafting impactful digital experiences for top-tier enterprises and startups. His expertise lies in setting up a dynamic, continuous discovery process, facilitating early and frequent testing of hypotheses. This approach ensures the development of intricate, data-driven solutions that are both effective and user-centric.

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