How to lead a product discovery workshop

10 min read
July 24, 2023

Product discovery is by design a collaborative process.

The most intensely collaborative activity in every discovery process is the product discovery workshop.

One of the main benefits of discovery workshops is that they align all stakeholders with your product’s vision.

This ensures everyone involved is on the same page from the start.

You’ll also be able to validate your product idea, its design, and the features you plan to add.

Here, we’ll guide you through every step you need to lead a successful workshop.

Let’s dive in!

Set clear goals and define your desired outcomes

The first step you need to take when preparing a product discovery workshop is setting clear goals and defining your desired outcomes.

This will help you keep your discovery workshop focused and productive.

Setting your desired goals and outcomes will also help you shape your workshop’s agenda.

Ensuring everyone involved in the workshop understands its goals will significantly improve its effectiveness.

A workshop without clear goals won’t lead to actionable results.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything is set in stone.

Your outcomes and goals may change slightly during the workshop, especially after brainstorming and ideation sessions.

Your main goals and outcomes should stay the same, however.

So, how should you go about setting those goals?

A handy framework you can use to help you set those goals is the SMART goals framework, pictured below:

SMART goals

SMART goals will help you keep your product discovery workshop focused and relevant to your organization.

Another benefit of using SMART goals is that you’ll be able to control the scope of your discovery workshop.

Your goals will help you create outputs i.e. certain deliverables you can utilize for further development, such as wireframes.

However, you also need to define your desired outcomes.

Outcomes are the differences you make with your outputs e.g. changed user behaviors or solved pain points.

Let’s say you’re holding a design-focused discovery workshop.

A simple set of goals (and outputs) might be:

Your outcomes might be:

  • Creating a foundation for your product’s design
  • Identifying and solving your users’ pain points
  • Identifying and solving friction in your product’s user experience (UX)

Once you’ve set clear goals and defined your desired outcomes, you can move on to the next planning stage for your discovery workshop. 

Involve relevant stakeholders in the workshop

We’ve mentioned how product discovery workshops are the most collaborative discovery activity.

This is why it’s key to involve all relevant stakeholders in the workshop.

You’re looking for participants with a different set of perspectives and expertise.

This will help you gain detailed and actionable insights during the workshop.

The number of participants in the workshop will depend primarily on your product’s complexity.

If your discovery is especially complex, you should involve several designers or engineers.

However, you must have your core discovery team i.e. the product trio involved in the workshop.

Product trio

Here at DECODE, we use the product trio model, with our key product discovery roles being:

The number of participants will also depend on the context of your organization.

If you’re doing an in-house product discovery, you might not need more than your core discovery team and 1-2 other stakeholders like your CEO or an external subject matter expert.

If you’re an agency doing product discovery for a client, you’ll need to involve them (or their representative) and members of their team as well as your own discovery team.

The ideal number of participants in a discovery workshop is between 4 and 7.

Regardless of exactly who’s participating in your discovery workshop, what’s key is that they make a cross-functional team.

A cross-functional discovery team will ensure a diversity of opinions during the workshop, and help you make a better product.

Choose the appropriate tools and techniques to use during the workshop

An essential part of preparing for a product discovery workshop is choosing the appropriate tools and techniques that you’ll use during workshop activities.

The tools you choose will depend on several factors, the first being if it’s an in-person, remote or hybrid discovery workshop.

If you’re doing an in-person workshop, you’ll need basic tools like a whiteboard, sharpies/pens, and sheets of paper.

If you’re doing a remote or hybrid discovery workshop, you can use a digital whiteboard or canvas tool such as:

  • FigJam
  • Miro
  • Invision’s Freehand
  • Canva

Using these digital tools is a good idea even if you’re doing an internal, in-person discovery workshop.

You’ll have a much easier time documenting and sharing the workshop’s outcomes.

Miro interface

source: Zapier

You’ll also need a conferencing tool like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, whichever you prefer.

There are plenty of options for storing and sharing documents, but Google Drive is the best option due to its simplicity, wide range of features, and market share.

The tools you use will also depend on the purpose of your discovery workshop.

A design-focused workshop will use different tools and techniques compared to a workshop focused on validating your product idea.

Also, keep in mind that If your product is simple, you might need to hold only one workshop during product discovery.

For more complex products, it would be wise to hold several workshops.

This won’t only speed up your discovery process but also yield better results than if you crammed everything in one days-long workshop.

Stick to a structured agenda during the workshop

The most important part of preparing and leading a product discovery workshop is preparing and sticking to a structured agenda during the workshop.

A well-structured agenda is key to the success of your product discovery workshop.

A clear discovery workshop agenda will keep the workshop focused and greatly aid you in achieving the goals you’ve set for the workshop.

Pictured below is an example of a discovery workshop agenda.

Product discovery workshop agenda

source: Miquido

As we mentioned previously, the activities you do during a workshop will depend on the focus of the workshop and the complexity of your product.

The duration of the activities will also depend on the complexity of your product and the number of participants.

For example, creating a user flow for a complex fintech app with many screens will take longer than creating one for a simple messaging app.

Let’s say you’ve just started product discovery and you’re entering a new market.

You first need to validate your product idea and understand your new market.

So, your discovery workshop agenda might include the following:

  • Making a business model canvas
  • Defining the cost structure of your product’s development
  • Market research
  • Defining the product vision
  • Discussing the technical feasibility of your product
  • Feature prioritization for your minimum viable product (MVP)

Pictured below is an example of a business model canvas.

Business model canvas

source: Business Models Inc.

The person in charge of creating and managing the agenda is the facilitator – here at DECODE, our product manager fills that role during our discovery workshop.

They’ll first go through the agenda point by point with all participants at the start of the workshop.

They also guide all participants through the activities, lead brainstorming and ideation sessions and recap after each activity.

Another facet of their role is keeping stakeholders actively involved in the activities.

The value of the facilitator role is that they enable everyone to align and understand what happens next in the discovery process once the workshop is finished.

Document and share workshop outcomes

As you’re going through your workshop’s activities, it’s vital that you document all the work that’s being done during the workshop.

You, or the workshop’s facilitator, should assign someone to take notes during brainstorming sessions, ideation sessions and any other meetings you might hold during the workshop.

Other than being very useful as you continue with product discovery, documenting all the work also promotes transparency and accountability.

Transparency is vital to the success of product discovery, especially if you’re an agency that does product discovery for clients – this is why transparent collaboration is one of our core values here at DECODE.

product discovery

Learn more about our discovery process →

App development starts with product discovery…

It’s also important to use tools that enable easy sharing and where you can track any changes made to the documentation.

Google Docs is a good option for this, as it logs the edit history of every document and allows participants to leave comments if something is unclear.

Once you’re done with the workshop, you should create a document listing all the deliverables and outcomes of each activity.

This will act as a handy reference during the rest of your discovery process while also promoting transparency.

You should share this document with your discovery team and all relevant stakeholders.

Follow-up and implement workshop outcomes

After you’ve finished the workshop, it’s a good idea to hold a short debrief session with all participants.

This is where they can ask for clarification if something remains unclear, and you can make sure everyone is fully informed about the workshop outcomes.

This is also an excellent opportunity to get feedback on the workshop itself and identify areas for improvement.

Once everyone fully understands the outcomes of the workshop, your next step is to plan the next phase of your product discovery and how to implement the outcomes.

If you’ve held a workshop about validating your product idea, you’ll be able to define the scope of your product and your MVP.

On the other hand, if you’ve held a design-focused workshop,, you can use the deliverables to further refine your product’s design.

So, if you’ve made wireframes and user flows, your next step could be to create a wireflow, as pictured below.


With a wireflow, you can validate both your wireframes and user flow with your users before creating mockups and prototypes.

You should also take all the deliverables and implement them into your product discovery roadmap.

For example, you can incorporate the user journeys you’ve created in your user research.

Regardless of the specifics, it’s important to implement the outcomes of your discovery workshop in the rest of your product discovery process.


Product discovery workshops are an excellent way to get all stakeholders involved in your discovery process quickly.

By holding a discovery workshop, you’ll be able to get everyone on the same page and aligned with your product vision.

And if you need help running a workshop, you’re in the right place.

We can help you set it up and run it – feel free to reach out and we’ll set up a call to discuss your needs in more detail.

Written by

Ivan Kardum

Lead product manager

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