Amazon’s Key to Success? Planning Backwards – OPEN Forum :: American Express OPEN Forum

March 29, 2013

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From revolutionizing e-commerce to rethinking the book, Amazon has always been a step ahead of its competitors. Its successes are usually the result of a particular mindfulness when it comes to process, usally its what Amazon calls its “customer first” development.

A defining characteristic of its “customer first” mindset, is that the company “plans backwards” by thinking of the products eventual press release and working from there. Amazon project lead Ian McAllister helps explains  on a Quora thread:

For new initiatives a product manager typically starts by writing an internal press release announcing the finished product. The target audience for the press release is the new/updated product’s customers, which can be retail customers or internal users of a tool or technology. 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.

If the benefits listed don’t sound very interesting or exciting to customers, then perhaps they’re not (and shouldn’t be built).

Starting with the end keeps the team focused on the end goal and assures that whatever is created will be exciting to those outside the company.

Photo credit: iStock photo.

Sean Blanda is the associate editor and producer of 


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