Spark #

The Working Backwards Process (opt a)

Start with the customer and work backwards – harder than it sounds - but a clear path to innovating and delighting customers.

Spark #
The Working Backwards Process (opt a)
What We're Talking About

The principle we're discussing

In this Spark, you'll understand the Working Backwards process and how one technique, PR/FAQ, can be used. One of the key elements of Amazon’s “working backwards”  framework is one in which Amazon employees (known as Amazonians) draft a press release and an FAQ document for any major product or initiative. This might sound counterintuitive at first – how can you write a press release for something you haven’t made?

But for Amazonians, this process – known as PR/FAQ –  is a critical element of their ingenuity and innovation.

The idea arose after Jeff Bezos found new product mock-ups to be “half-baked” - and moreover, evidence of “half-baked thinking.” After a great deal of trial and error over how to present new ideas, the leadership team landed on a simple narrative device: a press release. By working backwards with exciting marketing language, Amazonians could tap into what the ideal customer experience could – and should –  be. 

An example of a wildly successful press release was the one written for the Kindle - Amazon’s e-reader device, now ubiquitous in our culture. The press release contained must-haves like “a huge selection of titles” and “low prices,” and these buzzwords created goals for the product design team. The FAQ document was also helpful in predicting potential issues and problems, and trouble-shooting solutions long before product-launch.

Why it Matters

Why this principle is important and matters to you

Companies live or die based on their ability to innovate and create products or services that address a pain point for customers or clients. Amazon has clearly found product-market-fit time and time again, and how they achieve it has everything to do with how they approach each initiative.

How You Can Use It

This provides practical ways to apply learnings from this Spark

The application of the PR/FAQ is fairly straight forward, though the execution might involve multiple drafts and your own trial-and-error. If your company or organization has an idea for a new product, new initiative, etc. –  this might be the perfect opportunity to write a press release and FAQ document that puts a finer point on what you’re trying to accomplish, while troubleshooting potential snags. 

Once you’ve gotten the Press Release and FAQ documents at a good point, book a one-hour meeting with fellow stakeholders and colleagues. This gives a space for tough,  honest feedback, and leaves the floor open for questions


An opportunity to reflect on yourself and/or your team and how you can apply these insights

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