Before starting any project with a new client it’s important to get to know who they are, what they are about and why they are coming to you. We do this through a process called Discovery. Having been with Paramore just over three months now I’ve been involved in a few discovery sessions. Each time it’s been a completely different experience based on the project, the client, their needs and goals.
The bulk of the “disco” process is done in one big meeting. The set up, flow, and goals of this meeting, although well crafted after 10 years, is and will always be under constant scrutiny. We’re talking about delivering the best product we can and finishing brilliantly. That begins with shouldering up with your client and carrying their mission, vision, goals and spirit throughout the project. Preparation is key to running an efficient and effective discovery meeting.
You’ve gotta know what questions to ask in the meeting. You can easily spend half of your time asking questions that, going into a discovery, you should already know the answers to:
“what is your mission?”
“how do you make money?”
“what keeps you in business?”
“why do you need a new website?”
If you know that information going into the meeting you can ask more specific, business related questions. The answers to those questions are golden, they will serve as a launchpad for your strategy, design, information architecture, content strategy and development—all the way through to that brilliant finish.
The Big Meeting
The name of the game in your discovery meeting is making sure your client feels comfortable and focused while outside of their daily grind. Getting people out of their normal routine will inspire creativity and possibility. You will avoid stock answers and boredom if you can strike this balance of different, comfort, and creative. Depending on the client and the project this meeting can go anywhere from 2-5 hours.
Here are a few tips to running a killer discovery meeting:
- Invite them into your office
- Play music at the beginning, start it like a party
- Have a break or two in the middle
- Have snacks and drinks
- Bring toys to fiddle with, Koosh balls and Slinkys work great
- Set ground rules:
- No filibusters—nobody is a superhero, everybody gets heard
- Everybody talks
- No idea is bad and every idea gets written down
- The agenda is only a guideline
- Bring gifts - liquor works well, we’ve found
- Use an experienced scribe for visual notes, as well as a solid note taker
- Be sure to have a large, bright display with Internet for reference
There are hundreds of ways to refine your approach and with every new client they should be re-evaluated. Like I said, we’ve been at this for a decade and are continually updating our discovery process to fit the communication style and needs of each client.
We’re Always Refining
Typically, the talented Amanda Durand is the Paramore scribe in our discovery meetings. She learned how to scribe working at Capgemini and from her brother who is a professional scribe (yea, that’s a real job. and awesome) at AlphaChimp Studio. Amanda’s stick figures and thought bubbles continue to serve Paramore in the name of progress and beauty. However, our last discovery meeting was an important one so Amanda helped us get her brother, the brilliant Peter Durand, to scribe for it. He created six foam core story-boards of the meeting in real time. These idea boards will serve us throughout the project and what’s more, the client gets to keep them at the end. Here is one of the poster-boards he created in the Meharry Medical College discovery:
Although “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” stands true, they also say “if you do what’s always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
Refining your processes every now and again is vital to delivering a brilliant finish to your new client.
How are you running your discovery meetings?
What other processes are you refining for your company?
Have anything to add?
Tell us. I hope to see you in a discovery someday. Chances are if it’s run by us the meeting won’t look the same as it does today.Share Article