Discovery Drives the Art of Business


Andy Warhol, the iconic Sixties pop artist, once said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.”  During his career, Warhol stood out among others by not only advancing new ideas that revolutionized the art world, but he also established a very success business model around it.

Developing strong habits around discovery, experiment design and talking with customers, is essential for good business artists. But this is not a new idea. One of the longest standing brands was built on these principles.

In 1910 an 18 year old student quit school and started a business. Almost 90 years before Lean became a buzzword, he conducted an ingenious engagement test. HIs assumed there was a viable market for postcards imported from Europe. Operating from a small rented room at the local YMCA, and using a bulk supply of imported postcards, he mailed a box to retailers nationwide. In each box were 100 postcards and a bill for $1. If retailers didn’t pay the bill, they never received another shipment. The retailers that paid became regular customers.

Joyce C Hall

Joyce C Hall

Even as the business grew, this young man never lost touch. During the 1930’s he would drive around the country and visit drug stores to observe people as they shopped for cards. In those days cards were kept in big drawers, disorganized, and out of sight. His observations lead to the still current model of merchandise displays used for greeting cards. He never lost touch.

That man was Joyce C. Hall and his business is Hallmark Cards. To paraphrase Hall from his autobiography he says If someone goes into business with only the idea of making money, chances are they won’t. But if they put value and quality first, the money will take care of itself.

You’ve heard the phrase “more art than science.” This accurately describes discovery in the modern tech product world. In your own team’s discovery practice, embrace the art of business and learn how to align true value for customers with outcomes for your business.