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Working Backwards (the Amazon Method)

Working Backwards (the Amazon Method) Definition

Working Backwards (the Amazon Method) is a strategic approach used by Amazon to develop new products and services. It involves starting with the desired customer experience and working backward to determine the necessary steps and features to achieve that experience.

What is a Working Backwards (the Amazon Method)?

Working Backwards (the Amazon Method) is a problem-solving technique employed by Amazon to drive innovation and customer-centricity. It involves envisioning the desired end result or customer experience and then identifying the necessary steps, features, and resources to bring that vision to life. This approach ensures that the development process is driven by customer needs and expectations, leading to the creation of products and services that truly resonate with the target audience.

What are the stages of the working backward process?

The Working Backwards method consists of several stages that guide the product development process:

  1. Start with the customer experience: The first step is to define the ideal customer experience or outcome. This involves understanding the pain points, desires, and expectations of the target audience. By focusing on the end result, teams can align their efforts toward creating a solution that addresses customer needs effectively.
  2. Define the press release: In this stage, teams create a mock press release that highlights the key features, benefits, and value propositions of the product or service. This exercise helps clarify the vision and ensures that the development process remains customer-centric.
  3. Develop the FAQ document: Teams then create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that anticipates potential questions and concerns from customers, stakeholders, and team members. This document serves as a guide for refining the product concept and addressing any potential challenges or objections.
  4. Build the product roadmap: Based on the press release and FAQ document, teams develop a detailed product roadmap that outlines the necessary steps, milestones, and resources required to bring the product to market. This roadmap serves as a strategic plan that guides the development process and ensures alignment across teams.

These stages guide the product development process, ensuring that teams remain focused on delivering a customer-centric solution and providing a clear roadmap for execution.

Working Backwards (the Amazon Method) Examples

One notable example of the Working Backwards method in action is the development of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. Amazon started by envisioning the ideal customer experience of seamlessly accessing and reading books digitally. They then worked backward to identify the necessary features, such as a high-resolution display, long battery life, and a vast library of e-books. This customer-centric approach revolutionized the publishing industry and transformed how people read books.

Another example is Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing platform offered by Amazon. By working backward, Amazon identified the need for scalable and cost-effective infrastructure services. They then developed a comprehensive suite of cloud-based solutions that catered to the needs of businesses, enabling them to scale their operations without the burden of managing physical servers. This approach allowed Amazon to enter a new market and become a leader in cloud computing.

What is the primary purpose of Amazon working backward methodology?

The primary purpose of the Amazon working backward methodology is to ensure that customer needs and expectations drive product development. By starting with the desired customer experience and working backward, Amazon can create products and services that truly resonate with its target audience. This approach helps minimize the risk of developing solutions that do not meet customer expectations and increases the likelihood of success in the market.

Wrap up

Working Backwards (the Amazon Method) is a strategic approach that starts with the desired customer experience and works backward to determine the necessary steps and features to achieve that experience. By employing this method, Amazon has been able to drive innovation, create customer-centric products and services, and revolutionize various industries.

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