Research Tools for Discover Phase

There is a vast variety of options to shed light into the innovation space in the Discover phase. In the Kick-off workshop, you define in your team the most important discover questions as well as the methods to answer these questions (see Discover Card). The example tools and methods on the right are considered as a source of inspiration. Choose tools and methods that fit to your questions and your team. But do not forget to combine different sources to discover your innovation space from different angles (triangulation).

Let's say you want to understand how your customers use a certain service. What methods would be useful to apply? First, you may want to talk to them about the last time they actually "used" the service. You can also watch them while using the service. You can also immerse yourself into the service experience. We call the latter "DIY" ( = do it yourself"). The results coming from theses different methods may vary, since there is often a huge difference between what people say they do and what they actually do. And experiencing a customer process or service yourself, your perspective on your customers and the way you serve them today will help you understand your customers and their answers a lot. Try it out! Keep in mind that not every question you have in mind is relevant for now: Don't pitch your ideas, it is time to listen.

No matter what kind of area you are discovering and what kind of tool you are using, you really have to dig deep to generate useful information. We observed a lot of teams scratching the surface and bringing back a tonne of useless high-level bullsh*t. Exciting innovation with 100% market fit can only take place when you put the scientists's goggles on, scrutinise your findings and don't be satisfied with the first answer you hear or the first information you find.

The Magic of Discovery


We like to use the following tools to discover the innovation space in Business Design projects:





Interviews with customers and users are a great tool for finding "golden nuggets". But only the right interview technique allows us to look under the hood and reveal things customers were not aware of before. Get ready for your interviews by reading our article about how to talk to customers in the Discover phase.



Whenever the scope of your project allows to observe your customers and users in situations relevant to you, you should definitely do it. It' a great chance to identify behavioral patterns and corresponding emotions that would not come out in an interview. You want to learn more about observations? Read our separate article about how to conduct customer observations.



"DIY" (= Do it yourself) means that we change the perspectives and ask the team members to put themselves in the same situation as customers. Did some of your team members never ever use your current product or service or the ones of your main competitors? The Discover phase is the right time to do it! We tell you more about how to setup and conduct DIY activities here.



Any addition to a single conversation - e.g. a diary study or report plus a second interview afterwards - helps you to build trust and get to know your customers and users even better. But this needs some time obviously.


Desk research

Simple desk research is in many cases a good starting point to gather information about your current business model, the competitive landscape, market structure & dynamics, technological capabilities, rules & regulations. Desk research can even be the right method to understand customers from another perspective: Go to social media groups, chat forums or blogs and analyze comments from your potential customers / users or have a look at existing data about the behavior of your clients (e.g. from your CRM system or any installed tracking technology).

Low - high

Discussion with colleagues / experts

Discussions with colleagues or experts help you to better understand today's business model, internal practices & processes, data and resources as well as rules & regulations. And again it can help you to understand your customers & users: Talk e.g. to your sales and support team about common complaints or requests from your clients.