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Discovery Workshop Recipe

Last updated: 18 October 2017

This recipe is meant to bring clarity to a team before starting a Product Design Process – mostly intended to use before starting a Design Sprint. The quick workshop helps to build a full picture of the Company’s Vision, and then discuss which part of it suits best for starting with an MVP.

Getting Ready

You'll want to invite these people:
  • A senior Product Designer (it might come from a mixed background of Business / UX / Development)
  • A Business Developer in charge of the relationship with the client
  • The guardian of the Vision for the product
  • Any other relevant stakeholder in charge of the Product or Service from a Strategic perspective
You'll need the following materials:
  1. Note-taking device (take digital notes, preferably, it speeds up documentation)
  2. Large paper canvas or whiteboard
  3. Markers (at least two colors, it’s helpful to color- code your scribbles)
  4. Camera (your phone should do)
This recipe helps you to:

Great leaders tend to think in Bold Visions, but building an MVP requires super focus. The later is fundamental when jumping into a Design Sprint, where we’ll have a short time to tackle very speci c tasks. With this workshop, you should be able to demonstrate your client that you SEE and UNDERSTAND his/her vision, while at the same time provide him/her with expert advice on where to start.

+- 90 min.

Avg. Timeframe


Group Size


Facilitation Lvl

Let’s do this 👏


Step 1: Get to know the client

Commonly, this workshop might be the 1st time that the facilitator meets with the client, so we’ll use the first minutes of the dynamic to make introductions, as well as big, general questions. Start with these questions: 

  • What’s the core service or product provided by the company?
  • Is the service/product currently supported by any existing technological infrastructure? Deep diver into any blocks of existing infrastructure.
  • Currently, in general, what works really well? (processes, areas of the company, people, technology, etc.)
  • Currently, in general, what works really bad? (same areas as last question)

Step 2: Understand the Vision

Take a break from the conversation about the present, and travel to the future. Evaluate how much should we travel ahead: 1 year is enough for relatively new iniciatives and startups, 5 years might be a better idea for large initiatives inside large companies.

  • Where does the company want to be in X years?
  • To be there, what should be true?

Step 3: Define the Key Actors / Map the Ecosystem

Talking about the vision will de nitley spark conversations about key actors and stakeholders; capture these actors as the conversation unfollows, and clearly state their role in the Ecosystem.

In order to develop visual evidence for the insights generated during the workshop, you’ll draw a ‘tree’ diagram, with the Company Vision as the base, and the Key Actors as the top of the branches. The lines connecting both (the actual branches) will map technology enablers between the Actors and the Company Vision. So, for every Key Actor identi ed, try the following:

  • Draw a circle at the top of the diagram, with the name of the Key Actor in it
  • Draw a ‘branch’ connecting the Actor and the Vision, and describe with small notes how the Vision enables the Actor through technology (apps, hardware, and so on)
  • If there is a two-way relationship (most of the times there is) try describing it thoroughly
  • Repeat this for every Key Actor, and keep re ning the notes and ideas depicted in the canvas

You should be able to fully explore all possible Actors, as well as thinking into the future about the roles they share with the Company in order for the Vision to be true. 

Step 4: Identify First Possible Steps

The diagram on the canvas should now depict a really strong, visual representation of the client’s Vision. Now it’s time to close the scope, and select a single region of th map. Usually, this might be a single branch; with a strong focus on a piece of technology that enables a single Key Actor (we are thinking MVP here).

Look out for the branch or compact region that better address these topics:

  • Relates to the most known and successful aspect of the organization (e. g.: a proven process, the leader’s expertisse, the team’s best practices...)
  • Might generate the largest impact if deployed rst (transparent impact potential, rst exploration of critical aspects of the operation / Vision, addresses strongest pain in the Company)
  • Makes the most sense, technologically speaking (feasible technology specs –e.g., not Machine Learning–, existing frameworks available for main functionality, relates to existing project previously developed by the team)

Step 5: Document Everything into a Detailed Report

Make sure to properly document everything into a text document, along with any visual reference and pictures of drawings on the canvas / wall. Here’s a basic structure you might want to follow for your notes:

  • Provide a Meeting Summary, to mention participants and key topics / activites held
  • Provide a Main Topics listing; you can use a freestyle structure with titles and bullet lists... try to at least cover properly these topics:
    • Project’s Background o Opportunity
      Market Information o Vision
    • Tactics (how they intend to pursue the Vision)
      Challenges (though challenges ahead, not to be confused with Stoppers)
      Stoppers (tangible, real topics that might be stopping the project right now)
  • Provide an Insights section, with all relevant information that allow the client to take steps forward... the keyword here is actionable:
    • Include any diagram or picture of what you drew during the session o Include clear Next Steps (short term)
    • If possible, include a Roadmap of further steps (Mid and Long term) 
Keep in mind at all times

You want to understand clearly your client’s vision and objectives, so move freely towards a more natural conversation if you need. Nevertheless, go back to the canvas and keep drawing the Ecosystem continuosly – the main point is to PROVE the client that you are able to SEE the big picture.