Working Backwards: A New Version Of Amazon’s “Press Release” Approach To Plan Customer-Centric Projects – The Digital Project Manager

Why do they do this?

The thought behind this process is that if the teams can’t tell a compelling story about the product, the problem it solves and how it succeeded in terms that could be published in a newspaper and understood by the majority of the public, then the concepts they’re considering are too complicated.

It also forces the team to start with the customer—again, working backwards—rather than a set of features. It forces the team to understand the purpose of the work they’re doing rather than just the construction and delivery aspects.

Emulating The Technique

There have been many articles written about Amazon’s “working backward” process, and I recently used many of them as inspiration while leading a room of 300 engineers working on a new connectivity solution for a large telecom company.

However, the “Future Press Release” templates I found were largely identical and, while effective, failed to meet two key components of this conversation that I believe are critical to the success of new digital ventures:

Problem #1:

The templates lacked a focus on outcomes. Outcomes are the measurable changes in customer behavior that tell us we’ve delivered something of value, designed and implemented it well and that it solves a real need for a real customer.

Problem #2:

The templates lacked a discussion of the collaboration challenges the team needed to overcome— they say no man is an island. Similarly, no team is an island. The projects we work on don’t see the light of day without contact from legal, marketing, brand, risk, compliance and multiple other teams.

I set out to iterate on the templates and add in the missing components.

The result:

A New Version Of Amazon’s “Press Release” Approach To Plan Customer-Centric Projects By Working Backwards

Here’s my new version of Amazon’s “Press Release” approach, which I’ve designed to help you plan customer-centric projects. Find the new template attached here[1], and find a breakdown of each component below to help you fill it out:

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