Why the team «of two pizzas» — not a panacea
The way to business principles that work is through mistakes. It’s a rule well learned at Amazon, where they’re not afraid to change corporate practices. The team was inadequate «Of two pizzas» — came up with «single-threaded guide». PowerPoint presentations didn’t work — started writing stories. Analyzing the blunders, «Amazon» Created the principles that made their company a business giant.
About that in the book «Working Backwards» write former Amazon top executives Colin Briar and Bill Carr.
Here are the most interesting principles.
#1. Not limited to the team «two pizzas»
Amazon had a long-standing rule: There must be as many people on the team as can be fed two pizzas. Such teams were autonomous and in charge of their own piece of work.
But all was smooth only in theory. In practice, it worked mostly in IT development, where it is important to quickly implement technical innovations. For many other team challenges «two pizzas» Wasn’t enough. Small teams simply did not have enough time for large-scale initiatives.
Then Amazon realized: the best way to fail a project — Give it to someone «Part-time». So they came up with a new principle — «single-threaded guide». That’s what it’s all about: One person is responsible for one important initiative and leads an autonomous team. The number of people in a team is not regulated.
The principle was first tested during the Fulfillment By Amazon program. Then the company decided to give third-party sellers access to its warehouses and transportation. Amazon managers thought the idea was great, but a year later the system still wasn’t working.
When they analyzed the situation, they found out that the people in charge of the program did not have the time or authority to figure out the details of the FBA and get it up and running. Then the vice president of the company was asked to give up all his responsibilities and dedicate himself only to the FBA. So the program successfully launched. And then solidified the success of «single-stream leadership» On the Amazon Echo and Alexa project.
#2. Developing ideas from the reverse
One of Amazon’s key principles — «working backwards». Its essence: first identify the customer’s request and then come up with a product that satisfies it. It’s not what they want to create that matters «Amazon», and what customers will buy.
The main tool to implement the principle — PR/FAQ. The team writes two documents even before development begins:
- Press Release — A squeeze of the product’s main merits. Describes how it’s better (e.g., faster, easier or cheaper) than existing offerings on the market. If there are no such arguments, it is too early to create it.
- Frequently Asked Questions — a practical manual on how to release and use the product. Describes how many resources are needed to create it, how the customer will get it, what the price will be, and the specifics of the application.
One of the first products to be developed on this principle, — Kindle. Initially, the team was trying to create a device that would be good for the company. Calculated financial projections, thought through marketing campaigns and sales patterns. But the concept of a successful product did not take shape.