"Working Backwards" Approach


We have just kicked off an initiative that will introduce quite some changes to our product. While we plan the execution to be swift, it took us several months of experimentation to come up with general direction of changes that we plan to implement. One of the main tools that we have used in this conception phase was a press release. This approach is widely used at Amazon and we got introduced to it by Todd, our marketing adviser. Ian McAllister of Amazon already provided a very detailed rationale and description of the "working backwards" approach, so I'll just add that this is a very powerful approach indeed. The constraints of a press release forces the development team to focus on the bare essentials of the product and to really adopt user-centric view. We were also forced to have a detailed look at our existing product, competitors, and our target market in order to ground the press release in the language and ideas already existing in the minds of our potential customers. While working on a product for months, by necessity you develop excessive attention to detail, which makes it easy to forget that your beloved product is not the center-piece of your users' lives and that they are not spending most of their waking hours thinking about the stuff you're building for them.