Over the past 25 years, Amazon has transformed itself. What began as an online bookseller has become one of the worlds largest retailers. Beyond that, Amazon is the mark
Read the attached article. Research a need and create a one to two page Press Release that covers the items in the article. Post it and comment on at least one other student's press release in one paragraph. Think critically as you are now the manager evaluating this idea and its benefit to the organization.
Be sure to Google search the idea to ensure it is new!
Amazon Uses a Secret Process for Launching New
Ideas–and It Will Transform the Way You Work
It's called "working backwards." Here's why it's brilliant.
By Justin BarisoAuthor, EQ [email protected]
Over the past 25 years, Amazon has transformed itself. What began as an online
bookseller has become one of the world's largest retailers. Beyond that, Amazon is
the market leader in cloud storage services (AWS), is a major producer of both
television and film (Amazon Studios), and has now entered the health care market.
Of course, not all of Amazon's ideas pan out. (Anyone out there still have a Fire
Phone?) But even when they don't, the lessons learned prove invaluable–and
sometimes lead to even more extraordinary ideas.
So, how do Jeff Bezos and co. do it? How do they decide on which ideas to focus
their considerable resources, and which they want to leave behind?
Ian McAllister, Director of Amazon Day and former Director of Amazon Smile,
shared an insightful look into Amazon's approach for product development on
Quora a few years ago.
The approach is known as "working backwards."
Let's break down how this process works and see how it can help you and your
According to McAllister, working backwards begins by "[trying] to work backwards
from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt
customers onto it."
For new initiative, the process begins with a formidable task: A product manager
must write an internal press release announcing a finished product.
"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," writes McAllister. "If the benefits listed don't sound very interesting or
exciting to customers, then perhaps they're not (and shouldn't be built)."
In that case, the manager must continue revising the press release until they've
come up with something better. A lot of work for an idea that may never come to
fruition? Yes. But as McAllister explains, "Iterating on a press release is a lot less
expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!)."
McAllister goes on to share a sample outline for an internal press release:
Heading: Name the product in a way the reader (i.e., your target customers) will
Subheading: Describe who the market for the product is and what benefit they get.
One sentence only underneath the title.
Summary: Give a summary of the product and the benefit. Assume the reader will not
read anything else so make this paragraph good.
Problem: Describe the problem your product solves.
Solution: Describe how your product elegantly solves the problem.
Quote from You: A quote from a spokesperson in your company.
How to Get Started: Describe how easy it is to get started.
Customer Quote: Provide a quote from a hypothetical customer that describes how
they experienced the benefit.
Closing and Call to Action: Wrap it up and give pointers where the reader should go
In addition to the above template, McAllister advises that you should keep the press
release simple, a page and a half or less, with paragraphs made up of no more than
three to four sentences.
Part of keeping it simple means writing for mainstream customers, a technique
McAllister calls "Oprah-speak." "Imagine you're sitting on Oprah's couch and have
just explained the product to her, and then you listen as she explains it to her
audience," he writes. "That's 'Oprah-speak,' not 'geek-speak.'"
If the product actually makes it into development, the press release can then be
used as a touchstone.
When building major products, it's easy to get carried away with trying to add new
features or address minor details, a problem known in project management as
"scope creep." To help battle that, McAllister advises product teams ask
themselves: "Are we building what's in the press release?" If not, they need to ask
How working backwards can help you
This approach isn't just smart, it's emotionally intelligent, too.
Sometimes, we're emotionally attached to ideas that just aren't that good in the end.
But the more time and effort we invest into these ideas, the more difficult it is to let
go of them. This can result in a lot of wasted time, energy, and other resources
spent to build a product that was never going to be that good in the end.
By working backwards, you get the chance to work on your idea and flesh it out. But
you're also forced to put it to the test. After writing and rewriting, refining and
reiterating, it will become clear if the idea is really worth pursuing. That clarity often
helps you to let go of mediocre ideas so you can concentrate on great ones.
And when you do decide to move forward, your press release will help you to stay
focused, and also to continue to see things through the eyes of your customer–and
communicate in a way they'll easily understand.
So, the next time you think you've got a great idea, make sure to work backwards–
and transform your work from good to great.
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