‘Working Backwards’ the Amazon way
Work sans inspiration can make your day extremely boring especially on Friday’s!
At IG2N we have inspiring Friday luncheons for one hour called the ‘Ninja Bites’ and entire team (whoever is available) listens to some awesome audio content followed by quick 15 minutes discussions on the topic. It’s a great way to learn together, gain perspectives as well as socialize.
Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi was today’s sumptuous bite, although we couldn’t finish the entire book in one go, we certainly learnt a great deal so far and look forward to sharing more as we consume & discuss various strategies along the way.
Amazon’s method of product management is a great example of keeping the process lean and frugal which saves both time and money in the long run!
Any activity related to product management at Amazon begins with writing an internal press-release announcing the finished product. This is followed by four other steps before commencing the product building phase.
The target audience for the press release is the new/updated product’s customers, which can be retail customers or internal users of a tool or technology. Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions.
If the benefits listed don’t sound very interesting or exciting to customers, then perhaps they’re not (and shouldn’t be built). Instead, the product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they’ve come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!). ~ Ian McAllister, Ex Amazon and now Director of Product at Airbnb.
I think this is an interesting model and can be implemented in the first phase of product development but can not be treated as THE FINAL Product as the method lacks direct customer validation process. However, some of our team members disagree with my opinion and believe that Amazon tracks consumer behavior meticulously and based on the data segments they come up with new problem solving product strategies. Well, it may be true and perhaps over the time Amazon has tried and tested ways to improve their product development process.
Many organisations including ebay follow the ‘working backwards’ method coupled with lean startup principles and have their own ways of validating the customer experience. We think ‘Working Backwards’ or ‘Reverse Engineering’ is definitely a brilliant way to scope any kind of product development in its physical form or digital form. We have decided to implement it in our product development methodology and will share our real time experience here.