The Secrets of Product Management Podcast

The Secrets of Product Management Podcast

Episode 62: Digging for Market Problems Worth Solving, With Open-Ended Questions

April 15, 2020

Example Open-Ended Questions You Can Start With

The easiest way to come up with an open-ended question – one that can’t be answered with “Yes” or “No” – is to remember the “5 W’s and an H”: Who, What, When, Where, Why & How. If you start your question with one of those words, it’s pretty likely to be open-ended. For example, here are some questions you can ask to get people talking about their problems:

* What is the most annoying thing you have to do every day?* How often do you have to stop the machine for an error?* When is your busiest time in a project?

Continuation Questions

The continuation questions are for keeping people talking. (One isn’t even a question, more a request):

* What happens next?* Tell me more.* How does that make you feel?* What would happen if you didn’t have to do that?* What would happen if you didn’t fix that?

The Five Questions To Ask About Any Product Idea

Once you’ve found a real problem, you have to determine if it’s worth solving. These are questions you have to ask yourself – and have good answers for – before even starting to build a solution.

* Who is this product for?* Why do they want it? What problem does it solve for them?* How are they solving this problem today?* What’s wrong with their current solution?* Why is your product a better solution for them?

I covered these five questions in more detail in my podcast episode entitled, unsurprisingly, The Five Questions To Ask About Any New Product Idea.

Bootcamp: How To Present Your Best Self In Interviews

I will be leading a four-hour live bootcamp over four days in May on “How to present your best self in interviews.” I’ll help you learn to share powerful stories of your own accomplishments when you’re job seeking.

To learn more, check out the bootcamp page.

Click here to learn about the bootcamp and sign up for my free master class on “The Importance of Storytelling In Interviews.”

Recommended Links and Books

* “The Problem with ‘5 Whys’” – a great article by Alan J. Card on why the 5 Why’s are not the panacea some people think they are – but they are still useful at least as a mental model!* I mentioned Eric Reis’s The Lean Startup, as I often do on this podcast. It’s a great book for learning more about why to test your ideas to see if anyone will actually buy a product if you make it, and how to do it using Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and other techniques.* I have a free download that goes into more depth about asking open-ended questions. You might it find useful.

Support this podcast

* The easiest and best way to support the podcast is to leave me a comment or question, or drop one into my Twitter mentions (I’m @nilsdavis), or just send me an email at* You can also rate and review the podcast on Apple iTunes – that really helps others find it. * And you can just share the podcast directly with your product m...