Opportunity Solution Trees

An expert Mental Model unpacking how an experienced Product Manager connects Solutions to Outcomes and prioritizes Experiments. The tree broadens the horizon past the first Solution found, compares Opportunity-connected Solutions, and prioritizes Experiments.

Opportunity Solution Tree


  1. Identify a clear Desired Outcome.
  2. Product Opportunities to drive that outcome should emerge from user/market needs discovered during generative research.
  3. Solutions come from everywhere… but they should connect to an Opportunity.
  4. Experiment to evaluate and evolve Solutions.1

Reframing for Wide Discovery

Torres was inspired by Reframing Questions2 to broaden stakeholder's mindset with an additional logic layer of the Opportunity. As humans we typically fixate on the first discovered Solution, yet we actually want as many to investigate and explore as possible.3

Prioritization through Connection

By tying the Solution to an Opportunity (the user problem it is attempting to solve) you can reason more clearly and prioritize ruthlessly.

Attempting a broad "whether or not" decision on a particular Solution can be a stalemate.4

Using a Opportunity Solution Tree:

We can quickly discard Solutions that aren't tied to an Opportunity that drives our Desired Outcome.

Next we can bound our decision to "compare and contrast" Solutions related to the same high-value and real Opportunities. We then craft Experiments to measure the effectiveness of these Solutions, guided by the Opportunity's framing to narrow our measurements.


  • Introduced to me by Dave Masom of Conserv
  • From Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres
  • Source: https://www.producttalk.org/opportunity-solution-tree/ and a couple related blog posts and podcasts.
  • Desired Outcome -> Outcomes :: Solutions -> Outputs (Outcomes over Outputs) Opportunity Solution Trees is a lens on these related concepts. The exercises and visuals can untangle an existing concept space that may be too solution heavy and needs a tie-breaker.

  1. It feels like Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf would work well here. 

  2. Bernie Roth used a powerful question to drive past Buyers are Liars to get at the truth. After asking people what they wanted, he asked  

    If you had whatever you wrote down today, what would that do for you?

    He drove past the expressed Solution to discover the true Desired Outcome. Exploring past the Output to determine the Outcome. (Outcomes over Outputs)

    He then broadened that initial Solution by asking

    How else might you {accomplish the same goal}?

    This prevented being fixated on the first potential path and creating a tree of paths to explore. He was reframing the expressed Solution desire into a Desired Outcome… the truth of what the attendee was attempting to accomplish

  3. Similar to Discovery step of Double Diamond Design Process. The Double Diamond Design Process describes a double sequence of Divergent and Convergent Thinking. It's common for people thinking about Service Design. 

    double diamond

    According to Org Design for Design Orgs by Peter Merholz, Kristin Skinner, the Execution step is really a series of smaller Execution steps (iteration and implementation). How the Plan is framed determines how effective the Execution step will be.

  4. We can argue all day, but we won’t make any progress if we spend all of our time debating the merits of each solution. 

    Instead, we want to consider which problem each solution solves and instead make a decision about which problem leads to a more valuable opportunity.

    Source: https://www.producttalk.org/2016/08/opportunity-solution-tree/