What is working backwards?

The “working backward” (WB) method, commonly known as the Amazon way, is a product development methodology developed by Amazon product teams.

Teams should begin at the end of the product development process by creating an internal-only press release announcing the completed product, according to the company’s unique perspective on the process.

You may write this mock press release in any way a product team wants. However, according to Ian McAllister, a former Amazon director who is now the head of products at Airbnb, your announcement should include at least the following information:

●     The brand name of the product for brand recognition

●     The desired client

●     The product’s solution to a problem

●     The customer’s advantages

 The History Of Working Backwards

The backward working methodology has a humble beginning.

The backward working methodology was not detailed in a textbook or presented as part of a keynote speech but instead was developed by the author. The Amazon approach was first described publicly in answer to a question on Quora, where it received widespread attention.

It was Ian McAllister, who at the time was the director of AmazonSmile and later became the worldwide leader of the Amazon Day and Alexa teams, who provided the definitive response to the question “What is Amazon’s approach to product development and product management?”

With incredible depth (and revelation), McAllister described the exact technique that the Amazon product team employs to govern their decision-making and development planning processes.

Why using the Working Backwards method

Amazon employees claim that by picturing a time when the finished product will be ready for launch, the team can better concentrate on the advantages of a product rather than just its features.

Furthermore, after a feature has been detailed in a press release, any element that does not sound enticing or does not contribute to the delivery of the primary user advantages should be considered for removal from the final product.

Benefits Of using the Working Backwards method

It helps to keep the team’s attention on the customer experience.

The single most essential advantage of the backward working method is that it effectively pushes a product team to look at the product through the eyes of the consumer, which is hugely beneficial.

 Product teams can become overly focused on features, so crafting a press release ensures that everyone understands why they are producing a product, rather than just how they are developing it.

It briefly summarizes the objectives of a product or service.

Working backward is described by McAllister as a process that should result in a press release that is no longer than half a page long, according to McAllister. This ensures that the team remains laser-focused on the benefits to the consumer.


It serves as a guiding light throughout the development process.

As developers, we are all too familiar with scope creep and how easy it is for development to deviate from the product roadmap. Teams can refer back to the press release and check that the features they’re working on are consistent with the original concept if they have it on hand.

It’s a quick and easy approach to determining whether a product and market are a good match.

McAllister’s original post states, “My rule of thumb is that if the press release is difficult to write, the product will most likely suck.” In this case, the lesson learned is that product teams frequently discover that a product does not truly solve a need late in the game. You can recognize such a mismatch early on with the backward working method, and the course of action can be changed accordingly.

What information should be included in a press release that is written backward?

McAllister’s Quora response was informative, but it was also valuable for any product teams interested in replicating the backward working strategy in their work. While explaining his method, he sketched out the exact structure required for a working back press release (which we will discuss later).

How To Use Working Backwards

 It’s worth mentioning another of McAllister’s assertions: even though news releases are primarily intended for distribution to the public, this version is designed for internal use to improve the process.

The product team should identify whether it is intended for retail consumers, internal users, or other audiences to be clear about who is receiving the press release. A clear understanding of the target audience will help teams avoid over-explaining things that most customers would be uninterested in.

It’s all about the benefits to them, not the costs. Basically, “What’s in it for me?” is the question.

In this case, how does the “working backward” press release assist product development teams in responding to this question?

The framework that Allister suggested in his initial post is as follows:


This could be the product’s name, which should ideally be phrased in a way that is enticing to potential buyers.


What is an essential feature of the product, summarized in a single sentence? (This can be a challenging exercise, but it is very effective in refining a product vision.)


Simply outline what the product accomplishes and its primary benefit, as the name suggests.


Was there a specific problem that you created this product to solve?


What is the product’s role in resolving the issue?

You’ve provided a quote. To promote this product, you need to create a fake spokesperson and ask for a one-liner stating why this product is a must-have.

A quote from a customer

Break the cardinal rule and willfully fabricate a customer testimonial, and you will be rewarded. It is important to remember that the consumer is always at the center of everything.

Final words and a call to action Finish the press release by providing the reader with information on how to learn more about or begin utilizing the product.


Working backward may first appear as unconventional, even odd. But a well-put usage of this method can bring numerous advantages to the product release process of your company.

Simply put – it may seem paradoxical, but the outcomes can be astonishing.

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