In many organizations, “Discovery” is limited – often just a set of four simple questions along the lines of:
- Does our prospect have a Budget?
- Does this person have the Authority to make the purchase?
- Has the Need been defined?
- Is there is a Timeline?
That's what many people believe is discovery, but in fact that's just simple qualification (“BANT”). Discovery is going much deeper – and in this example, what you don’t know will hurt you…!
Imagine a large iceberg in the open ocean – and your job is to move it from its current location to a nearby harbor to provide water for the inhabitants, with a minimum of energy expended while also minimizing loss of the iceberg’s water.
Simple qualification would examine the iceberg at the surface and conclude, “Well, it’s not that big, so it should be easy and rapid to move.” A tugboat and crew are summoned…
Later that day there has been little movement of the iceberg. The tugboat is at the bottom of the ocean, after colliding with a sharp, submerged portion of our iceberg, and several of the crew members have been injured in the exercise – and the iceberg has been steadily melting, reducing the amount of water available for our thirsty population. (Note the frightening resemblance to implementation attempted similarly without sufficient Discovery).
In this case, doing sufficient Discovery requires recognizing that the iceberg has the bulk of its mass underwater – and asking the critical questions to understand the nature of that iceberg – how big it really is, its composition, its shape on the surface and under water, any sharp portions, current and future weather, other shipping, etc.
So: if we're looking to propose a solution, we must explore far beyond the visible tip of our customer’s iceberg. We need to gain a much clearer understanding of what is hiding in the depths – lest our project ends up sunk…!