How do Spotify and Amazon align their product visions

Last Friday a couple of us attended a workshop, led by Andy Park from Spotify, who later joined us in our office for drinks and some trick shot practice on our pool table. Andy is an agile coach and operations manager at the streaming service giant, whose role is to advise teams on how to align product visions and execute strategies.

The method he showed us, was invented by Amazon and Spotify adopted and slightly changed it to fit their company structure.

It goes something like that:

  • No powerpoints and no bullet points
  • Write down a one-page “Day in life” document, describing how an ideal user will use the new service or feature you envisioned. At Amazon, they even fake an internal “press release” as if the service is already live.
  • Hand out the document to selected members of your team, who will give you feedback in a form of questions.
  • Hand out the document to more team members and again collect questions.
  • Keep asking for feedback until you can put together a FAQ and then adapt the document, based on the feedback you got.
  • Once you manage to answer all questions groups, you have an aligned vision.
  • Reverse engineer a roadmap, leading to the aligned vision.

Communicating with a large team is insanely hard. We at Viberate currently have 60 people in our offices in Ljubljana, plus an additional 50 around the world. That’s manageable, although it can get hard at times. But Amazon employs 650,000 people, which is three times the population of Slovenia’s capital, so they need to be methodical like this.

We wrapped up the day with some traditional Friday gin and tonic, a DJ session by one of our database curators and we even got a visit from an 18-time trick shot world champion Mike Massey, who proved that even our CEO can do it. Watch him dive 4 balls at the same time.