Integrating Opportunity Solution Trees into Continuous Discovery

Jayne Parfitt
March 27, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of product development and user research, continuous discovery has emerged as a pivotal approach for ensuring that products and services meet the ever-changing needs and preferences of users. An often overlooked, but highly valuable tool in the Continuous Discovery process is the Opportunity Solution Tree (OST). It helps teams to map out potential opportunities and solutions and identify the most promising ones to pursue. This article draws from key learnings of using OST’s in Continuous Discovery.

Teresa Torres created  the Opportunity Solution Tree in 2016 as a way to help product teams streamline the product discovery process and keep track of their continuous discovery journey. This is what her original OST looked like.

Role & benefits of OSTs

The basics of Opportunity Solution Trees

An OST is a visual representation of the opportunities and solutions that a team has identified that ties back to a pre-defined, agreed outcome. It is divided into two parts - the opportunity space and the solution space. In the opportunity space, teams identify potential opportunities or pain points that customers are facing. In the solution space, teams brainstorm potential solutions to address these opportunities or pain points.

Setting a clear direction

Creating an Opportunity Solution Tree before commencing continuous discovery serves as a roadmap, providing teams with a clear direction and focus from the outset. By systematically organising opportunities and potential solutions, teams can align on priorities and goals, ensuring that their efforts are directed towards addressing the most pressing user needs and pain points.

Importance of cross-functional collaboration

Continuous Discovery thrives on cross-functional collaboration, involving team members from different departments and roles to bring diverse perspectives and expertise to the table. This collaborative effort is crucial when using OSTs, as it ensures alignment on the desired outcome and a comprehensive understanding of the problem space, which increases the likelihood of implementing valuable solutions. Through visual representation, OSTs facilitate meaningful discussions, mitigate misunderstandings, and drive consensus, ultimately leading to the creation of products and services that meet user needs while aligning with organisational goals.

Prioritising efforts

Prioritisation is key in product development, and an OST helps teams allocate their resources effectively by identifying high-impact opportunities and corresponding solutions. By evaluating potential solutions against criteria such as feasibility, impact, and user needs, teams can prioritise their efforts and focus on initiatives that are most likely to drive meaningful outcomes.

Facilitating Experimentation and Learning

Continuous discovery is an iterative process that involves experimentation and learning. By creating an OST before diving into discovery, teams can structure their experiments more effectively, focusing on validating solutions that are aligned with identified opportunities. As teams gather insights and learnings through user testing and experimentation, they can update their OST accordingly, ensuring that it reflects the evolving landscape of opportunities and solutions.

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Practical steps for using Opportunity Solution Trees in Continuous Discovery

1. Agree on the desired outcome

The journey begins with a clear definition of the Desired Outcome, synonymous with the overarching business objective, but should hold more depth and detail. It also needs to be within the control of the team running the continuous discovery. This initial step is paramount, demanding alignment with organisational goals and stakeholder expectations. Stakeholder collaboration and communication play pivotal roles in this process, as gathering diverse perspectives fosters a comprehensive understanding and articulation of the desired outcome.This serves as the compass for the business, elucidating the "why" behind the endeavor and serving as a foundational metric revisited persistently throughout the process. The articulation of a compelling, measurable Desired Outcome is pivotal, as it galvanises teams and fuels their dedication.  See examples in the table below.

The first step in creating your Opportunity Solution Tree is defining your Desired Outcome. Converting a business objective into a compelling Desired Outcome is pivotal as it galvanises teams and fuels dedication.

2. Define your opportunity space

Next, you need to clearly define the opportunity space you're exploring. This involves gathering data from various sources such as customer feedback, market research, stakeholders and analytics. Articulate the key opportunities or pain points faced by users, ensuring alignment across the team. As you learn from customers throughout your Continuous Discovery efforts, you will take your stakeholders on the journey and update these inputs as you go.

A practical example of an opportunity. Ideally you will have several opportunities that sit on your OST.

3. Generate solutions

Once the opportunity space is clearly defined, it's time to brainstorm potential solutions. Encourage diverse perspectives and leverage techniques such as brainstorming sessions and competitor analysis to generate a comprehensive list of opportunities. Once you start your Continuous Discovery, you can add to the list of opportunities, too.

A practical example of a potential solution to an opportunity. You should have several potential solutions for each opportunity that sit on your OST.

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4. Experiment, validate and iterate

Validate your solutions in continuous discovery using various methods including concept testing, preference testing, A/B testing, prototyping, or experiments. Gather feedback from users to understand how well each solution addresses their needs and iterate based on their insights. Continuously refine your OST based on new learnings and evolving user requirements.

A practical example demonstrating the structure and layers of an OST.  You should have several potential solutions for each opportunity that sit on your OST.


Creating an Opportunity Solution Tree before commencing continuous discovery and updating it as you go is invaluable in guiding teams through the complexities of product development. By integrating this powerful tool into your research process and updating it iteratively, you can unlock new opportunities, drive innovation, and create products and services that truly resonate with your audience.

Jayne Parfitt

Askable Plus Researcher

Jayne is passionate about tackling customer and business challenges using design thinking and a human-centered design approach, with mixed methods research playing a central role. With over 15 years of experience in marketing, customer experience, digital product, and design leadership roles across various industries, Jayne has a strong track record in both discovery and delivery and brings a wealth of expertise and insights to her consulting work.

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