Discovering the Opportunity Solution Tree

Discovering the Opportunity Solution Tree

Also available in fr

November 13, 2023

3 min read

Hugo Lassiège

This post will be shorter than usual, as I wanted to share a tool I use regularly to structure my ideas.

Have you ever heard of "Opportunity solution tree"?

I discovered this approach with Teresa Torres' book: Continuous Discovery Habits.

In my daily routine, I constantly use a TODO.txt file. I talk about it in this post: Choose your battles.

Every day I use this file for two things:

  • list all the tasks I've planned for the day
  • list the two main tasks I've set myself as goals for the week, month or quarter.

I use it every day. Every morning I reread what I had planned to do, refine, delete, add and correct the trajectory if I feel that my objectives (week, month, quarter) are going in the wrong direction.

It's a great tool for prioritizing and focusing on the essentials.
But I found that it didn't help me structure my ideas and the opportunities I had in mind.

In addition to this file, I have note files in various places, text files, Notions pages etc... It's still very useful for delving deeper into a subject, but it lacks the big picture.

After reading Teresa Torres' book, I quickly got hooked on the opportunity solution tree.

Opportunity solution tree from Teresa Torres
Opportunity solution tree from Teresa Torres

The idea of this tree is to list these main objectives at the top.
For example, in my case, I have a goal to improve efficiency.
Below each objective, we can list the associated opportunities.

An opportunity is just as much :

  • a pain point. Example: CI is a pain point linked to efficiency.
  • a need: teams are looking for less coupling between them.

Below an opportunity, we can list other opportunities. For example, "to increase team autonomy, I need to improve the quality of the data available to make better decisions".

And finally, below an opportunity, I can list experiments or initiatives that are concrete actions.

I've only been using it for a short time, but this visualization helps me a lot to stay focused and to force myself to connect an experiment to an objective.
I don't use it every day, but once a month, sometimes once a fortnight. I take note of opportunities that seem important to me and review my plans.
I hesitated a bit about which tool to use, but I finally landed on Miro, which allows me to share it if I need to.

Personal example of Opportunity solution tree
Personal example of Opportunity solution tree

For example, here on one of the branches: Outcome : Efficiency
=> opportunity : higher dev velocity
=> opportunity : architecture simplification
=> initiatives : Simplify the frontend stack (Singapore)

As I said, this is a rather short post. Feel free to share your own tips.

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