Discovery Briefing

This can be a fairly simple document. It's likely to be an output from the Strategy phase, but sometimes it can be our first interaction with a client who has already developed their broader digital strategy themselves.

One organisation may decide to set multiple streams of work flowing in parallel, focusing on different missions. Each should have its own team, and own discovery period — but there should be very close and open collaboration between teams.

The brief for a discovery should include any outputs from strategy work, but then it should also include:

The Mission

This is a simple clear statement about the problem that this discovery should focus on. It should be about the outcomes an organisation wants to achieve, rather than the outputs.

Good missions to set for a discovery would be along the lines of:

  • Enable us to continue delivering our services even after a 25% reduction in staffing

  • Increase our sales to the 25-35 age bracket by 20%

  • Find a way to share knowledge between our offices and team members to speed up our training and improve quality

  • Reduce the calls to our support desk by 15%

Bad examples are:

  • Build us a new website

  • We need a system to store all our customer data

  • We need to move to the cloud

  • We need a mobile app

These aren't suitable missions because they state an output rather than an outcome. The output could be delivered perfectly but the organisation still might not see any benefit from its investment of time and money. Also, it closes off potentially better solutions to the underlying problem.

So — keep the mission focused on the problem to be solved, not potential solutions.

The Timebox

There is no 'right' duration for a discovery period but most are between 2 and 6 weeks. Much shorter than this means it's unlikely you're digging into the mission, opportunities and any obstacles properly. Much longer than this and you effectively slip into a waterfall approach of trying to plan everything precisely upfront, and by the time you come to deliver it, lots will have changed.

It's worth setting a timebox. It's okay if not everything gets done in that time, what's important is to set some momentum for the stream of work.

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