Working BackwardsWorking Backwards

Working Backwards Template

Determine whether a new product or feature is worth building.

About the Working Backwards Template

The working backwards approach was pioneered by Amazon, based on one of their leadership principles celebrating customer obsession. The method requires anyone with a new product or feature idea to articulate its objective as clearly as possible. 

The model also calls on the team writing the objective documents to sell their idea internally. If the idea presentation impresses leadership, the next step is to map out what the team needs in order to get to the product or feature launch.

Keep reading to learn more about the working backwards approach.

What is the working backwards approach

Working backwards is a framework for thinking about a product without a detailed roadmap. Your product team would work back from a mental image of the customer to launch your product in a way that truly serves them. 

This working backwards document can take many forms – from a blog post to a press release envisioning the product or feature launch as if it were happening today.

Ideally, you’d describe:

  • Who your customer is

  • What the customer opportunity or challenge is

  • What the most important customer benefit is

  • Customer needs and wants

  • What the customer experience should look like

Embrace this document as a living, iterative team resource. At Amazon, for example, it’s not unusual for a document to go through 20 to 30 revisions. The “day one” mindset – creating something new for the first time, for customers – can help even enterprise-level businesses think like start-ups. 

When to use the working backwards approach

Working backwards encourages product teams to first solve a customer pain point, and then create a product. 

If you and your team aren’t sure whether a new product or feature idea is worth the time investment, working backwards can help push you to test an idea. The framework is also designed to shift your thinking to expected results rather than implementation. 

The framework will help you stay focused, see things customer-centrically, and communicate in plain language before you actually build anything.

Create your own working backwards framework

Making your own working backwards framework is easy. Miro’s whiteboard tool is the perfect canvas to create and share it. Get started by selecting the Working Backwards Template, then take the following steps to make one of your own.

  1. Start with a challenge statement. Based on your understanding of the customer and the document you’ve drafted, what is the challenge (or opportunity) your customer is dealing with?

  2. Identify the ideal future state. Talk with your team about what new business models and structures are needed to make new products and experiences possible. There’s no single right answer, so feel free to use as many sticky notes as necessary to identify possibilities.

  3. Map actions from your ideal future state to the present day. How long will it take to get there? This stage can also help your team have realistic conversations about resourcing, processes, systems, implementation, and support needed to make possible that new product or feature. 

  4. Plan next steps. Once you know the steps needed to get to your ideal future state, you can start building a backlog of tasks. Each task can be prioritized, and ownership assigned to a team member.

Working Backwards Template

Get started with this template right now.

Related Templates
Pros and Cons List ThumbnailPros and Cons List Thumbnail
Preview

Pros and Cons List Template

A pros and cons list is a simple but powerful decision-making tool used to help understand both sides of an argument. Pros are listed as arguments in favor of making a particular decision or action. Cons are listed arguments against it. By creating a list that details both sides of the argument, it becomes easier to visualize the potential impact of your decision. To make your pros and cons list even more objective, it can help to weight each pro and con against the others. You can then present your decision with confidence, making a strong argument for why it’s the right one.

Pros and Cons List Template
Eisenhower Matrix ThumbnailEisenhower Matrix Thumbnail
Preview

Eisenhower Matrix Template

Have an overwhelming list of to-dos? Prioritize them based on two key factors: urgency and importance. It worked for American president Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it can work for you—this decision-making framework will help you know where to start and how to plan your day. With our template, you can easily build an Eisenhower Matrix with a quadrant of key areas (Do, Schedule, Delegate, and Don’t Do) and revisit it throughout the day as your priorities change.

Eisenhower Matrix Template
social-media-calendar-thumb-websocial-media-calendar-thumb-web
Preview

Social Media Calendar Template

Most businesses have a social media presence, but many of them aren’t using social media as a competitive differentiator. The Social Media Calendar template allows you to plan, schedule, and craft posts for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, so you can leverage social media as a strategic tool to promote your brand. Use the Social Media Calendar template to plan out your social content a week, month, or quarter in advance. Collaborate with the marketing team, prepare for product launches and major initiatives, and share draft social posts.

Social Media Calendar Template
Work Breakdown ThumbnailWork Breakdown Thumbnail
Preview

Work Breakdown Structure Template

A work breakdown is a project management tool that lays out everything you must accomplish to complete a project. It organizes these tasks into multiple levels and displays each element graphically. Creating a work breakdown is a deliverable-based approach, meaning you’ll end up with a detailed project plan of the deliverables you must create to finish the job. Create a Work Breakdown Structure when you need to deconstruct your team's work into smaller, well-defined elements to make it more manageable.

Work Breakdown Structure Template
Gantt Chart ThumbnailGantt Chart Thumbnail
Preview

Gantt Chart Template

Simplicity, clarity, and power — that’s what make Gantt charts such a popular choice for organizing and displaying a project plan. Built upon a horizontal bar that represents the project progress over time, these charts break down projects by task, allowing the whole team to see the task status, who it’s assigned to, and how long it will take to complete. Gantt charts are also easily shareable among team members and stakeholders, making them great tools for collaboration.

Gantt Chart Template
Buyer Persona ThumbnailBuyer Persona Thumbnail
Preview

Buyer Persona Template

You have an ideal customer: The group (or few groups) of people who will buy and love your product or service. But to reach that ideal customer, your entire team or company has to align on who that is. Buyer personas give you a simple but creative way to get that done. These semi-fictional representations of your current and potential customers can help you shape your product offering, weed out the “bad apples,” and tailor your marketing strategies for serious success.

Buyer Persona Template