Teresa Torres, a coach specializing in product discovery, introduced the Opportunity Solution Tree (OST) in 2016. This innovative map serves as a tool to assist product teams in simplifying the product discovery process and maintaining a record of their ongoing exploration efforts.
Exploring the concept of opportunity solution trees
Torres describes OSTs as “a simple way of visually representing how you plan to reach the desired outcome. It also helps make implicit assumptions explicit. Opportunity solution trees help you to navigate opinion battles, frame your decisions as ‘compare and contrast’ rather than ‘whether or not,’ align around a shared understanding, and communicate how you’ll reach the desired outcome.”
Key advantages of implementing opportunity solution trees in your strategy
An opportunity solution tree is ideal to help you with the following:
- being organized throughout the ideation process,
- integrate external inputs into the product discovery process, allowing you to stay in line with the most valuable metrics, and
- develop the notion of experimentation into the upcoming products, and help keep track of them.
Moreover, in this regard, Agile product development is particularly very handy when creating the opportunity solution tree as it provides adaptive and iterative approaches to make adjustments based on feedback.
Identifying the right team for developing an opportunity solution tree
Essentially, the ‘product trio’ is responsible for creating the opportunity solution tree: the product manager, the designer, and the software engineer.
The purpose of opportunity solution trees is to assist the product trio in navigating the most optimal route to finding their desired solutions.
Opportunity solution trees are designed to help a product trio chart the best path to their desired outcome. It’s designed to be a team activity.
However, an opportunity tree can be simply created by anyone. If you wish to try how the OST works, the best way is to get started on your own, and then share the findings with your team members once you have some proficiency.
But anyone can create an opportunity solution tree. So if you are looking to get some practice, go ahead and get started on your own. As you get comfortable with the tool, be sure to share it with your team.
Essential foundations for effectively utilizing opportunity solution trees
When you are creating an opportunity tree, make sure to include the following must-haves:
- a theoretical concept of the target customer
- the unique value proposition that your product should provide to the target customer
- a well-defined outcome
Once you have the prerequisites, it is also important to conduct several story-based customer interviews, or user interviews before you begin crafting your opportunity solution tree.
Step-by-step guide to crafting an opportunity solution tree
Essentially, there are four main steps to creating your first opportunity solution tree.
Recognize the preferred outcome for your team. Try to define your target outcome to a single metric that you wish to work on. It could be customer retention, higher revenue, or overall customer satisfaction.
After recognizing your target outcome, the next step is to identify any potential opportunities that may originate from generative user interviews. Be mindful and focused: you need to explore and find out the pain points and needs of your target audience. These, in turn, can be translated to opportunities for you!
Remember, the solutions to those pain points can be found everywhere. However, you need to ensure that the solution you come up with is directly linked to the opportunity you found in the previous step. If you can’t make that happen, the solution may merely be a distraction.
It is time to experiment, test, evaluate, and refine your solutions. The ultimate purpose is to try out one solution with a variety of experiments.
Deciphering the top-level outcomes in opportunity solution trees
The topmost result on the opportunity solution tree establishes the framework for exploration, guiding teams in recognizing relevant opportunities and maintaining concentration on appropriate solution avenues.
The outcomes from the opportunity solution trees can be classified into three types.
These are used to gauge business health and can be represented using financial metrics. Some examples of business outcomes include: increasing the revenue by 10% or growing the market share by 15%.
These are used to measure how a customer behaves, perceives, or thinks about a particular product.
These outcomes are used to measure the adoption of one feature.
When is the right time to use an opportunity solution tree?
You can use opportunity solution trees as useful input when you are planning to conduct a road-mapping activity. If you are keen to create roadmaps monthly, biannually or annually, it is just the right time for you to create the OST. You cannot simply create those apt roadmaps if you do not have an understanding of the consumers’ pain points.
Another time when you can use an opportunity solution tree is when you are crafting product proposals and when they have to be presented to the senior leadership. When the executive leadership of the company understands the key metrics, it becomes easier to iterate through potential solutions. An opportunity solution tree also provides a collaborative platform to explore a variety of options available, thereby increasing value with minimal effort.
Going further, It is also suitable to integrate the concept of ‘minimum viable product’ into the opportunity solution tree. It emphasizes the rapid development and testing of essential features and promotes early user's product feedback and efficient iteration.
Most product teams also try to use opportunity solution trees when attending product strategy off-site. For upcoming strategy off-sites, it's advisable to suggest to organizers that they initiate the session with a recap of any ongoing Opportunity Solution Trees (OSTs) that teams are currently engaged in.
As a result, all participants gain a collective understanding of the upcoming opportunities and are informed about the advancements made in addressing these opportunities.
Key Components of an Opportunity Solution Tree
The four key components of an opportunity solution tree are described below:
When creating an OST, the metrics must be closely aligned with the key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs can come from the objectives and key results framework that your team has developed, ensuring that the progress contributes closely to the success of the business.
In short, the metric provides a lens through which a team can conduct its product discovery.
Sometimes, only knowing what targets we are trying to chase is not enough. We don’t fully understand the pain points of our customers. Most of the time, waterfall-oriented teams propose ideas and strategies that are completely unaware of consumer input or their pain points.
When creating the OST, opportunities are supposed to provide unique value to consumers. Opportunities allow the business to preserve that unique value in the form of business drivers such as referrals, usage, or revenue data.
Furthermore, the Jobs to be Done framework is important for an opportunity solution tree because it shifts focus from product features to address specific customer needs. The JTBD framework, thus, aids the identification of opportunities by understanding the core jobs.
After choosing one opportunity, you have to team up with the design and engineering departments to come up with some solutions to solve their problems.
- Solution ideas should be diverse, and as many as possible.
- Do not limit yourself based on the fear of bad ideas, because these open prospects of some great ideas.
- As you reach the experimentation stage, you will be able to converge on what to work on.
Tests & experiments
Solution ideas should not be completely shipped, especially when you are aiming to have a great ROI. This is because full shipping may pose higher risks and costs. Each solution comes with several underlying assumptions, and each one of those should be tested with low-effort, low-cost, and effectively planned experiments.
Testing and experimenting help improve the ROI by mitigating risks and opening new learning opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the opportunity solution tree?
The Opportunity Solution Tree is a visual tool used in product development. It helps teams explore and prioritize opportunities by mapping potential solutions to identified problems. By branching out from the problem statement to possible solutions, it guides decision-making and facilitates a focused approach to innovation and problem-solving.
What is the Opportunity Solution Tree as defined by Teresa Torres?
Torres describes OSTs as “a simple way of visually representing how you plan to reach the desired outcome. It also helps make implicit assumptions explicit.
What is the opportunity tree process?
The opportunity tree process involves identifying and analyzing opportunities, branching out to potential solutions, and systematically evaluating and prioritizing them. This visual tool aids in focused decision-making and innovation by mapping solutions to identified problems.
How do you draw an opportunity solution tree?
To draw an Opportunity Solution Tree, start with a clear problem statement at the root. Branch out with potential solutions as limbs. Each branch represents a solution, with sub-branches for variations or details. Prioritize based on impact and feasibility. Iterate and refine as you gather insights.
Your product development journey can be very interesting and prudent with Harvestr, an all-in-one product management platform. For those who are interested in learning beyond Opportunity Solution Tree, harvestr is replete with such learning resources that will help you lift your product management game.