Webinar: How to run a discovery workshop

Watch this 25-minute webinar and learn how to solve business problems and unlock digital potential by running a discovery session.
Computer with desk on it


Hello and welcome to the first out of two webinars I'll be doing around roadmap planning, discovery and how your business can utilise these methods to solve business problems.

This first session is specifically going to focus on discovery itself and how we can identify those problems and session two will focus on how we turn that into an effective roadmap as well as some of the pitfalls companies face with strategy.

So without further ado let's go to the intro.

So this session will be about 30 minutes so I'll be taking 30 minutes of your time and in return for that you'll get a breakdown of how discovery sessions also known as facilitation works, the common pitfalls and how to avoid them, the benefits of building digital roadmaps, an example brief from a

typical distinction client where we actually build An example discovery so you can get an idea of how this could work in your business and also ways to ensure that your discovery is successful.

Now a little bit about myself, my name is Sean, I'm the strategy leader here at Distinction and I'm responsible for all the discovery sessions that we run in our business as well as the roadmaps for clients so there is a lot of experience there.

Interesting quote and I think it very Well describes the discovery process in terms of the quality of the answers we get purely depends on the quality of questions and discovery in this element is about getting the answers because if we have the answers we can solve problems.

So I think that's a really good way of explaining the approach of what you would need going into a discovery session.

So I've got some workshop examples here, obviously I've mentioned discovery a lot but there are other types of sessions you can run that implement the same methodologies.

Discovery again is about solving problems, design, so if you wanted to build something quickly you could have a design sprint workshop if you wanted to say build a prototype but there's lots of design elements that you could build into discovery so And there are a lot of these linked together, but

they also can be run individually.

We've also got UX strategy for a website or a product.

Empathy is more about users.

So in terms of design thinking and getting really into the heads of the people who are your customers to understand them and actually build around that rather than just making guesswork of it.

There's also critique workshops, which allow Groups to sort of measure the quality of previous solutions I've come up with.

And then there's also a retrospective, which is one we use after every project is completed.

We go through and go through what went well, what we think could be better so we can further improve.

So there's lots of ways that workshops can apply to your business.

Obviously, we're going to talk specifically about the discovery elements today.

So what are the benefits?

Well, you gain a more accurate scope of what needs to be done and that's why every project we do has some form of discovery.

So we can find any potential problems that may come up and really understand and get to the bottom of what the client wants and also what the customer wants to build the best things.

It allows focus on what matters to the users.

So we're not trying to just have hundreds and hundreds of meetings about things.

It's a case of Everything's very focused and to the point.

It identifies and limits potential issues in a product build.

As I mentioned, we do these ahead of any project and we have, I don't think there's been a discovery where we haven't found something that would impact the build.

I don't think it's ever happened before.

And it is a great way of just preparing us and the client and making sure that we hit all of our targets.

So I think our project managers are very, very happy for it.

It also helps to build an effective roadmap which ties directly into my job.

Essentially what we want from discovery is solutions to problems and those solutions are what are going to go into the roadmap and decide what the company activities are for the next 6, 12, 2 years, 3 years so we can do that through discovery.

Our approach for this combines the previous workshop examples I've mentioned to build the most efficient discovery for The business.

And well, if you're wondering, well, how do we do that?

Well, like any plumber or electrician, we have a toolbox to solve problems rather than fix pipes or fix electrical issues.

And this discovery toolbox is made up of all the elements that we've used in previous discoveries, as well as things that we may think would work for and benefit clients in the future.

And because we have this toolbox, we can customise the approach a lot.

We can break things down into multiple sessions.

It's not a case we need to get everything done in a short space of time.

That second point there, we're very flexible in how we approach the discovery process.

And it also allows us to utilise discovery sprints.

Now, you may be wondering, well, what's a discovery sprint?

So if we host a workshop, we can then go away and implement some of The possible findings to either prove or disprove them and we can also find out more information which can help guide further sessions.

Now that may be not super clear at this point but I will be doing a demonstration which will show you how this works in action.

A key point is we get to the point quicker and less.

Everyone wants things to be quick, everyone wants to save time.

The quicker we can do that the more benefit it is for customers but it's also more benefit For your business, if you can get things done faster and we'll show you more about the discovery toolbox in the demo later.

So who is our fictional company?

Well, it's called FinTech Limited and it's a typical company in terms of the problems that they face and the brief that they've given us to solve in discovery.

So what is the brief?

Well, they've launched their new product six months ago.

They've been having difficulties gaining traction slash users.

They're spending lots on marketing, but not seeing ROI and there may be lots of nodding heads here, like we have these problems, low conversion rates.

And to be honest, low conversion rates and more leads are probably the most popular problem that businesses come to me with in terms of we're not making enough sales, we don't have enough leads.

So I feel like they are probably pretty typical of most companies including ones that work with us regularly.

So what's the approach?

Well we've designed a set of discovery workshops that get to the root cause of the business problems and then we pick the most relevant activities from the tried and tested discovery toolbox.

So everything that we come up with is custom but it comes from things that we've already thought out in terms of previous problems.

So it's got It combines the knowing of it's worked, but also the flexibility of we can apply this to specific problems.

So it's a really good balance and it results in four custom sessions for FinTech Limited.

And yeah, so we'll be running through those in a moment.

So the custom discovery.

So how do these sessions look?

Well, the first one is to define the outcome So if you're going to take this approach, take away what's actually in the sessions, you first need to define the outcomes.

Now, the problems that FinTech Limited have come to us with have done that for us, but you can see here how the sessions have been broken down.

So session one was to define the users and then there's a discovery sprint around the product and the marketing.

And then session two is to define problems and rank solutions.

So that discovery sprint Through up all of the problems for Fintech Limited and then we spent session two just going through those problems and solving them.

After session two, they really wanted to dig in because session two focused a lot on the website.

They felt they weren't focusing on the marketing.

So session three was customized just to focus on a marketing analysis and new opportunities.

And then session four, It was about prioritising current and new activities.

So we came up with the solutions to the current marketing, we found new opportunities and then session four was about prioritising them.

So how can we do all of these things?

What are the priorities?

What is the low hanging fruit?

What is the things that we need to push a little bit further back?

So that's basically what we went through.

And to give you an idea of what a discovery session looks like before I show you the demo, Discovery sessions can be done in an office with other people.

There is a nice energy about that and it's a case of sticking post-it notes on the wall and all that sort of stuff in terms of the boards.

The session that we have here, we use a service called Miro and in Miro you can build out the boards in the same way but it means that our clients can join remotely.

A lot of our clients aren't based that locally to us so it is a more convenient way we found When those challenges present themselves, but there is no right or wrong way to do this.

You could do it in an office, providing you've got a lot of post-it notes and the boards are displayed around the office in the same way as here, or you could do it on Miro.

There's not, like I said, there's not a right or wrong answer.

So the demonstration.

So this is our Miro board, as you can see here.

The first thing I want to draw attention to is because some of this stuff is so small I will be zooming in and out so it may not be that easy to see so I do apologise for that in advance but I will do my best to go through how things are working here.

The first thing we use for our clients is we have some icebreaker sessions, we have a clear agenda at the start of every meeting and we also have a little bit about how Miro works if they haven't used it before.

So that's something that we run through at the start.

So if you were hosting your own session in the business, the chances are people won't know how to use Miro.

So you've got to bear that in mind in the early sessions.

So this is part of our discovery toolbox that we've used for FinTech Limited, and you can see it's broken down.

So here's some really high level strategy stuff.

Here's some user based stuff.

Here is some challenge-based, solution-based stuff and we've got some wrapping up and then we've also got some of the marketing things.

So there's lots of stuff we can pull from here and we often do end up customizing a lot of these sessions.

So how does this work then for FinTech Limited?

So as you can see here, the workshops are broken down by number.

So you can see number one here, number two, number three and number four as we went through On the previous slide and I'm just going to zoom in here so you can see how this sort of works.

So a lot of this is a case of getting participants to use sticky notes to list things out.

So you can sort of see how this would work in an office if you would just be sticking these on the wall or a board.

But we've broken it down so we've had an in-depth look at their users who are FinTech limited users.

So I'm just going to zoom in a little bit more there.

So who are these users?

And the next step after defining those users is, well, what do they want?

Why do they want it and where?

And what we've started to do is really flesh out their personas as they weren't 100% sure who their best customers were.

And this is why the process has started in this way.

The other thing as well is, so we've got A wrapping up session and we've also got next steps.

So you can see here a lot of these next steps are tied around the discovery sprint, which I'll come on to next.

And it focuses on site surveys like Hotjar for AB testing, for analysis of heat maps, analytics, looking at the analytics to see the trends in terms of Google Analytics, looking at their advertising already.

So you can see how the next steps break down.

Well, what do we need to look at in a bit more detail on that?

And then the actions to be taken.

So we've broken it down by distinction and FinTech Limited because there's some stuff they may need to do.

There's some stuff that we need to do.

So that's sort of how the first session looks.

And then that feeds into the summary of findings from that discovery sprint.

So you can see a lot of the findings are here.

Some of it obviously we've already found out in that first session, but me as the facilitator have put all of this down and these are problems that we're going to look to solve in the next session.

So this session would take place.

The other thing I'll mention, and I apologize, I am jumping around a little bit, but in terms of the agenda, this first session is an hour and a half or 90 minutes.

You can see there.

And then there's a gap to do the discovery sprint of maybe a week or two weeks, depends on how long it takes.

And then session two is 90 minutes.

So it's not a case we're trying to get all this knocked out in one day.

There is a little bit of breathing room in places where we need a discovery sprint.

The other thing I'd mention briefly while we're here is that if you were in your own company, you could do the discovery sprint before you start the sessions.

That's an option as well.

So there's lots of ways you can go about this.

So workshop two is basically mapping out the problems.

And this is a key part of Discovery sessions in the sense that because to get solutions you need problems and to get good solutions you need to rank them.

So here are all the solutions for the key problems.

So the navigation being unclear, mobile conversion rate is poor, the design looks outdated.

So these are all things that have come from either the surveys or analysis of Google Analytics.

And users dropping off at the checkout stage.

And you can see that lots of possible solutions have come up there.

And then the next stage is to rank those solutions in terms of their effort and impact.

So these would be quick wins.

And a lot of businesses do focus on quick wins.

But the problem is that if you focused on quick wins, you'd be doing four things, whereas you actually need to be doing all of that stuff over a period of time.

Really shows the importance of having a longer term plan with lots of activities that you need to do to fix the problems.

And these problems here are what is causing the issues they described in their briefs, the conversion rates being low, the ROI of marketing not being great.

A lot of this experience is relating to that.

So as I mentioned this session was a custom session just around marketing because they wanted to focus on that after and this session here was very focused around the website.

So we can see that we've gone through the target audience, we've gone through what is good and bad, we've looked at marketing activities and then we've got ways that we can improve audience advertising so this is stuff they already do and then other things that they should be doing or could be


And then that ends that session and then there's some next steps.

The other thing we always do at the end, we ask participants to rate the session.

If you're running this in-house, you may not need to do that, but we always, I think feedback's always a good thing.

And then the final session is using this methodology to rank what the quick wins are.

And essentially our roadmap is made up of all of these items ranked by how quickly they will drive An impact.

So these things are going to be at the start of the roadmap and these things are going to come in towards the end of it.

And that's a summary of the sessions.

And as I mentioned, this is a custom session.

So a session with a company with different problems or different things that come up in the discovery will be different.

Every session is different.

The main thing you can do is understand the problems well.

So I'm just going to go back to the presentation.

So the workshop prep.

So what do you need to do to ensure that those sessions are successful?

Well, the first thing is allow all key stakeholders to be involved.

I think one of the things with sessions is people often rule out or leave out people that could have a lot of value.

So it's important that you make sure that everyone that needs to be there is there.

Keep sessions as short and snappy as possible.

As you can see in there, I've split sessions by topic, but sometimes I've also split them by goal.

So some of those sessions were purely to get answers, whereas one of them was to get marketing ideas and analysis, and then the other one was to solve problems on the website.

So by splitting them up by clear defined topics, you can essentially stay focused a lot, lot easier.

The other thing I'll mention is strategy should be collaborative.

Customer service and salespeople have a wealth of untapped knowledge.

So get people in there that you may not necessarily think are like marketers, but know the customer because salespeople and customer service representatives will know the customer.

They know the problems because they deal with them day in, day out.

As I mentioned before, it could be in person or hybrid using an online tool.

Now we use Miro.

We're not Sponsored or anything like that by them there are loads of other tools we just like the Miro and a lot of our clients do as well.

Preparation ahead of the meeting needs to be documented and accessible to all.

So in terms of those goals they need to be clearly labeled and the thing with Miro all of this work is documented in Miro so you do have A list of everything that you've done that people can look at after the fact, which is good.

The other final thing is depending on the size of your business, you may need multiple roadmaps split by product or department.

So depending on how, if you've got a huge problem to solve, you might need a lot of sessions to solve that.

Whereas if you've got a few problems or a few key problems, you could probably have one or two sessions.

It all depends on who you are as a business.

So as I mentioned before, break down sessions by topic.

In terms of marketing design, don't try and mix them up because it makes the session much harder to stay focused and people will get more burnt out with it.

If you give people a few tasks on a certain topic, the results will be a lot better.

Also be realistic about how long the board will take to complete.

The best thing is obviously to run things under time, but at the same time, you want to cover everything.

So don't think, oh, this will take 40 minutes and it takes an hour and then you don't finish it.

That's no good either.

But it is important to timeboxing and the facilitator, whoever's running the session.

For our business, it's myself.

It's my job to keep track of time and it's also my job to stop people tangenting during the session.

Another thing that comes up with people asking about sessions is what happens when someone does come up with something that's not relevant.

I mean, in terms of this, this approach is all about ideas.

So you don't really want to just rule people out.

So what we have is a parking lot.

So if there's something that's a good idea, but not relevant, we'll move it into the parking lot and either come back to it at the end of the session or move it into a session where it is more relevant.

Summary of challenges.

So what's stopping people buying, using, showing interest in your product or service?

Every session always ends up with a summary of challenges and a summary of solutions.

That's essentially what we're trying to get to drive business forward on a tactical level.

You need to fix problems.

It's as simple as that.

All the solutions are prioritized and ideas.

Yeah, this is an important one.

Ideas are not always realistic solutions.

I've worked in a lot of companies where We have ideation sessions, but the problem is either the solutions themselves are too complex and then they never get done or they're so simple we do them immediately, but then we don't really see any long term benefit of doing them because there's loads of

other stuff that we should be doing that we deemed too hard at the start.

So I do like ideas and workshops run off ideas.

But that ranking and prioritising is hugely important in terms of making sure that everything gets done.

And the roadmap part two will go into that a lot more.

So what's the discovery checklist?

Well, they should have identified the issues causing your business problems.

At the end of the session, you should have achieved the goals outlined at the start.

You should have everything you need to start building a roadmap.

If you still feel you're missing some solutions, this is the key thing.

It's okay to add extra sessions.

If you think, oh, we need a fifth session, add a fifth session.

Now don't go to town and have 20 sessions because you're going to get into the bit where it's a bit irrelevant, but the flexibility is the key thing of discovery and it's one of its greatest benefits.

The nature of discovery means it's possible to also see all the problems.

For example, after session two, our client wanted to focus on the marketing purely.

If they didn't want to do that, we may have done something different.

That's the flexibility that we have.

And the main thing is, as well as that flexibility is an open mind and to just go in there thinking, yeah, we can solve these problems.

If you go in there with a negative attitude, like things aren't going to work, you're probably not going to get the results you desire.

So a recap, so a brief breakdown of our discovery and why it's important.

We've shown the example FinTech company to show how discovery sessions solve business problems.

We've gone through the workshop approach and given you some examples from our discovery toolbox with a real client that you can sort of gain insights from.

And we've also at the end provided tactical solutions to these problems.

So what are the next steps?

Well, hopefully you should know how to plan discovery workshops that will identify the root causes of business problems.

You should hopefully be able to get a clear understanding of these issues that lead to the tactical solutions to solve them and the next step is to put those tactical solutions in a digital roadmap and the next webinar will show you how.

So the next webinar is going to look at some strategy elements and then it's also going to look at how all of these things fit together and we make sure that they all get done.

If you'd like any help running a discovery session, then just drop us a line.

My name's Sean, but you can get contact to our team at hello.distinction.co.uk.

I'd like to thank everyone that stayed for the full half an hour to watch the whole thing.

Have a great day and good luck with your discoveries.

Take care.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023
10:00 am
~30 minutes


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