How to create & use Current State questions
  2. Discovery Interviews (Step 2)
  3. How to create & use Current State questions

1. Purpose of Current State questions

Your main objective isn't to learn more... but to make the customer comfortable.

When you begin your Discovery interview, the customer probably doesn’t know what to expect. Imagine how unnerving it would be if the first thing they saw was a screen full of blank yellow sticky notes, and your first question was, “So… what kind of problems are you having?”

That’s not how we want to conduct a Discovery interview. As shown below, there’s a certain “flow” that should take place over the course of the interview. The most important point is the first one: The interview needs to start out as easy for the customer. And that’s the main purpose of Current State questions.

Ever since we introduced B2B Discovery interviews in 2005, we recommended using two or three Current State questions to begin these interviews. If possible, digitally project the questions on a screen or wall… and then recording and project customers’ answers as well, so they can suggest any corrections. These questions can serve up to four purposes:

  • Clarification: Helps you clear up basic but nagging questions. Example: “Can you help me understand the purpose of this step?”
  • Context: Gives you a grounding to understand the rest of the discussion. Example: “Which applications do you use your product in?”
  • Completion: Fills in any secondary market research gaps that remain. Example: “How fast would you say your market is growing?”
  • Comfort: Eases customers into more challenging questions later. Example: “What would you say your main strengths are compared to others in this industry?”

By far, the most important purpose is the last one… customer comfort. After your Current State questions, your customer will see a projected image of many blank sticky notes. If you started the interview this way, it could be intimidating. But if they first see two or three questions they can easily answer first, they’ll be more comfortable.

For more on Discovery interviews, see e-Module 15: Discovery Interviews, at > e-Learning.


Keywords: current state question, Discovery interview, clarification, context, completion, comfort, make customer comfortable, Discovery interview flow