"The Power of Working Backwards and Crafting a Strong Product Strategy"

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

Aug 23, 20234 min read

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"The Power of Working Backwards and Crafting a Strong Product Strategy"

Introduction:

In the competitive world of business, companies are constantly searching for innovative ways to stay ahead of the game. Two key concepts that have proven to be game-changers are Amazon's "Working Backwards" approach and the development of a solid product strategy. Both approaches, although distinct, share common points and when combined, can transform the way you work and propel your business to new heights.

The Working Backwards Approach:

At Amazon, the process of bringing a new initiative to life begins with a unique and formidable task. Product managers are required to write an internal press release that announces a finished product. This internal press release is not just any ordinary document; it is meticulously crafted to showcase the customer problem, highlight the shortcomings of existing solutions, and demonstrate how the new product will surpass all expectations.

The internal press release includes various sections, such as a heading that captures the essence of the product in a way that resonates with the target customers. A subheading follows, providing a concise description of the market for the product and the benefits it offers. A summary paragraph is then used to give a compelling overview of the product and its benefits. The document also delves into the problem the product solves, the elegant solution it offers, and includes quotes from company spokespersons and hypothetical customers. Finally, it wraps up with a call to action, guiding readers on the next steps.

This unique approach of working backwards forces product managers to thoroughly analyze and refine their ideas. It helps them identify if an idea is truly worth pursuing and allows them to let go of mediocre concepts, enabling them to concentrate on the truly great ones. By focusing on the customer problem and envisioning the final outcome, companies can avoid the trap of "scope creep" and ensure that their products are well-thought-out and meet customer needs.

The Essence of Product Strategy:

While the Working Backwards approach is a powerful tool for idea validation and refinement, it is crucial to combine it with a robust product strategy. Product strategy serves as a high-level guide or framework that helps a product and its team meet business objectives in the short, mid, and long-term.

Product businesses are inherently different from sales or service-based businesses, and having a well-defined product strategy is essential for success. It outlines the direction, goals, and key actions required to achieve those goals. A strong product strategy aligns the product with the overall business strategy, identifies target markets, defines the value proposition, and outlines the roadmap for product development and enhancements.

Combining Working Backwards and Product Strategy:

When the Working Backwards approach and a well-crafted product strategy are combined, companies can unlock immense potential. The Working Backwards approach ensures that ideas are thoroughly tested and evaluated before investing significant resources, while the product strategy provides a roadmap for long-term success.

By incorporating the Working Backwards approach into the early stages of product strategy development, companies can validate their assumptions and refine their ideas before committing to a detailed roadmap. This combination allows for a more agile approach to product development, enabling companies to adapt to changing market dynamics and customer needs.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the Working Backwards approach: Start by writing an internal press release for your new product or initiative. This exercise will help you identify the customer problem, refine your solution, and envision the final outcome. This clarity will guide your decision-making process and help you focus on great ideas.
  • 2. Develop a robust product strategy: Take the time to define your product strategy, align it with your business objectives, and outline the key actions required to achieve success. A strong product strategy will serve as a North Star, guiding your product development efforts and ensuring long-term growth.
  • 3. Continuously iterate and adapt: Both the Working Backwards approach and product strategy require regular evaluation and refinement. Embrace an agile mindset, gather feedback from customers and stakeholders, and be willing to make necessary adjustments along the way. This iterative approach will help you stay relevant and deliver value to your customers.

Conclusion:

The power of the Working Backwards approach and a well-crafted product strategy should not be underestimated. By combining these two concepts, companies can transform the way they work and achieve exceptional results. Embrace the Working Backwards approach, develop a robust product strategy, and continuously iterate and adapt to stay ahead of the competition. With these actionable steps, your business can thrive in today's ever-evolving market.

Resource:

  1. "Amazon Has a Secret Weapon Known as "Working Backwards"--and It Will Transform the Way You Work", https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/amazon-uses-a-secret-process-for-launching-new-ideas-and-it-can-transform-way-you-work.html (Glasp)
  2. "WTF is product strategy, really?", https://medium.com/inherent-ventures/wtf-is-product-strategy-really-c96b167b5f0b (Glasp)

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