Kicking Off With A Press Release At Amazon

Listening to an interview on Software Engineering Radio with Amazon’s CTO, Werner Vogels, a novel idea to chartering a project was explained. At Amazon instead of the traditional project charter or having a team just start with playing around with new technology, they require as a first step that the team writes a press release for the new feature. That way the new features on Amazon always start out focusing on how to appeal to the user. I’ve been exposed to this before with Luke Hohmann’s Product Box game. Might be great idea to try one of our next projects.

2 responses to “Kicking Off With A Press Release At Amazon”

  1. Luke Hohmann says:

    Ed –
    This is a great variant of the Product Box game that I discuss in my book “Innovation Games(R): Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play”.

    A press release has the virtue of a regular structure, and thinking about the “nice quotes” that people will say about the product you’re creating taps into the motivational side of building a great product. The press release exercise (also advocated by Greg Gianforte of RightNow and Dean Leffingwell) is also lightweight.

    Keep in mind, though, that there are significant differences between the Press Release and Product Boc. In Product Box, the focus is external, on your customer. What do they want? How do they design the box? What images do they use?. In the Design the Data Sheet approach, the focus is internal, on the internal product team. What does the internal team want? How does the internal team design the box? What images do the internal team choose?
    This difference in focus also results in a different process. In Product Box, we celebrate the many and varied boxes that customers generate during the game, as these create a rich source of information that we can mine for innovations. In Design the Data Sheet, the goal is create a unified consensus around what the team is going to do. Thus, while many boxes or data sheets are created, the team works together until one is selected.
    When you’re looking to create the foundation of customer understanding that drives innovation, use the externally focused Product Box. When you’re looking for a fun way to help an internally focused project team gain clarity about what they want to build, especially at the beginning of a project, use Product Box (internally) or Design the Data Sheet.


    Luke Hohmann | CEO | Enthiosys, Inc.
    Innovation Through Understanding | Join the Innovation Games Forum:
    Author of “Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions” and
    “Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play”

  2. Ed Gibbs says:

    Thanks for explaining the distinction. I just got assigned a high profile project where we’ll be rolling out a new product based on a purchased third party product plus some customizations. I’m thinking Product Box might be a fun game to play with the team, but I still need to run it by the business owner. Certainly may help with the ideas around those customizations.