For every billion dollar idea there will be plenty that don’t add much to the bottom line and several that just eat up resources getting launched. More importantly, there will be many that reach the disagree and commit stage. The point is that most companies are consistently striving for innovation.

What if your team could regularly produce these type of ideas and you could implement and launch them with the agility that Amazon does? Is that a process you’d like to learn?

Jeff Bezos recently announced that Amazon has topped 100 million Prime members. Amazon Prime started just like every other idea in the nearly 2000 experiments Amazon runs in a year. Let’s spend a few minutes to understand their process and then look at how you can effectively adopt it as your own.

Every test begins with a team developing a 6-page narrative memo. No PowerPoint presentations are allowed.

We’ve also learned that what’s most important to the process is the perspective that these memos take. The keys to these memos are to write them from the point of view of the customer’s benefit and to start from the end result or the final goal. This is what Amazon calls “working backwards.” It’s what we teach as Reverse Chronology in our Buyer Legends process.

It may help to think of these internal memos as low-fidelity rapid-prototypes to keep your company agile.

When you start from the end-point and craft the narrative from there, you’re not tied to the present conditions, which means you’re not tied to optimize what already is, and you also build believability for what your idea could BECOME rather than starting from what it might be right now. Prime didn’t become a billion dollar idea overnight. And there were some challenges that had to be ironed out with it before it scaled as big as it did.

So if you started just with the idea to “test” this out, it wouldn’t have been a success.

You had to start with the idea that Prime Members became Amazon-exclusive with their buying and what that would look like and mean for the company, AND then you work backward on how to make that happen.

These documents are well-researched and carefully considered. They are intended to help others in your organization fully comprehend the recommended experiment, all logistics and the anticipated outcomes. Before a meeting starts everyone sits, reads these memos and add their questions in the margins.

These narrative memos align the organization and allows them to commit with the knowledge and resources to see the test executed. Keep in mind no team at Amazon is larger than two pizzas can feed. So there are thousands of teams developing ideas on a regular basis. How many of these ideas could your teams develop regularly if they had the tools and the skills to craft these memos?

We had the pleasure of developing our Buyer Legends Process in order to train Google’s teams to emulate this rapid, customer-centric, innovation process. Like all teams, they needed to communicate more efficiently, prioritize based on well-documented ideas and improve execution time and outcomes. They required a process to provide direct communication instead of implied instructions. Since developing the Buyer Legends Process to achieve those goals, we’ve used it to help dozens of companies from startups to existing brands to be like Amazon.

 

Would your company benefit from more customer-centric innovation, executing with greater precision & agility and developing a growth system like Amazon’s? Drop me a note if you want to chat further about this innovation process.

Bryan Eisenberg (18 Posts)

Bryan Eisenberg is a keynote speaker and the coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan was been recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, he was selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and a DMEF Rising Star Award winner in 2010. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association now the Digital Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.


Please share if you think others would benefit.