Growth Systems and its Components

You read that growth study with the charts going up and to the right and it seems like it’s working for everyone but you.
You talk with a growth colleague and they tell you about the amazing program they created that 2x’ed their conversion rates in a week, but yours is still the same.
You watch that growth series and it seems like all the experiments worked but yours.

You start to blame the team for the lack of brilliance, you blame your boss for the lack of resources, you blame the company for the lack of ideas, you blame your audience for the lack of knowledge, you blame marketing for the lack of visibility, you blame the product team for the slow execution.

While all of it may be influencing the final result, the root cause is none of the above.

The root cause is that you don’t have a growth system in place.

Having a growth system means your company is not dependent on how smart a single person is, how brilliant is one idea, how motivated is the team, or how many resources you have available. Instead, it means that the process itself is the most important piece of the puzzle and, regardless of who’s running it, the system will ensure the best outcome. Let’s break down the components of an effective growth system:

Culture: you may have the brightest minds by your side in your team, but without proper support, you will likely not maximize the potential of your deliveries.
Having a growth culture in place means your reports understand the way the system works. They embrace risk-taking in a controlled environment. They recognize that a failed experiment is a much-needed part of the process. They evaluate your success by the achievement of an objective. They provide their own resources (data, people, money) to the growth team to succeed. They engage in ideas suggestions and problem-solving.
You likely won’t have all of that from day 1, but you should start nurturing and creating that mindset as early as possible.Strategy and KPIs: if you get 5% improvement in every direction, the perception of everyone who’s not on your team will be that you are still in the same place. Having a growth strategy means your actions are well aligned with the direction your company is heading and the most important problems they are trying to solve. Having clear KPIs in place makes it easier for everyone to understand what you are doing and what the end result should be. Having a strategy in place makes it easier for you to decide what to say yes and no to. Having well-defined KPIs helps better allocate resources and capital to the most important problems.People and roles: almost no growth team started out with all the skillsets they wanted. In an ideal scenario, you will have data scientists, designers, programmers, marketers, and a manager in place. In reality, you will likely start with a mixed structure, using resources from other departments, borrowing people (often volunteers) from different departments, and starting smaller than you wish. But don’t worry — data and results speak louder than words. It’s your chance to prove the value of a growth team and help others understand what’s your role in the company, meaning: how they can use growth as their swiss knife, to validate stuff they haven’t tried before, to test things they have no resources to, to explore opportunities that they can’t. Use this time to get buy-in and company-wide understanding from key stakeholders.
I’d go even further and say that your first growth person should be promoted internally instead of hired externally. Knowing precisely which buttons to press and which person to push is the kind of knowledge that takes time to build — and someone with some years of in-house experience already has.Process and meetings: growth is the result of having a constant and conscious process of experimentation that you scale as you go. Constant because you should ALWAYS be running experiments — there are no shortcuts. The amount of experiments you run is inversely proportional to the time it will take for you to get to your desired result — the more, the faster. Conscious because they are not random aleatory experiments, they are always connected with your strategy and KPIs. If the result of an experiment doesn’t get you closer to your objective, you shouldn’t be prioritizing it for now.
Running effective growth meetings ensures your team is always with a backlog of tests to execute as well as they are focusing on the right things at the right time — zoom out and look a the results of your objectives, zoom in and look at the results of your experiments.Technology and Tools: are useless without the prior listed items, but essential once you’ve checked those boxes. Tools allow teams to operationalize frameworks in a consistent and cohesive way. Growth teams will be dealing with a large number always changing tools — since their focus will invariably fluctuate across all departments and steps of the customer journey — so, having instruments in place to connect it all and keep the process how it should be is not only a facilitator, it’s a must.

If it belongs to everyone, it belongs to no one.
If it tackles every problem, it solves no problem.
If it runs occasionally, it never really runs.

The assembly line to create a system varies a lot from company to company. While some of them are born with a more risk-taking approach in a rapid-changing industry they may already have some of such components in their DNA — so it comes down to actually operationalizing it. Others, in another hand, weren’t necessarily born after the tech boom, in a conservative industry, with mindset restraints — so the growth framework helps create a clear line of thought to connect all dots.

There’s no single way to assemble all components together, and it’s not a one-time job, but it is vital for achieving a long-term sustainable growth process.

Extra tips:

Growth.Software is a platform built and designed for growth teams. From strategy mapping (setting up KPIs, Northstar metric, objectives, metrics repository) to execution (ideation, prioritization, test, and analysis).
Ideally, growth teams would be managed separately from operations — since it has their own nature. More about managing growth here.From an execution standpoint, and to assure autonomy and sustainability of the system, the growth team should meet regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) to assess the ins and outs.
This means checking the progress of your success metrics as well as deciding what goes into production in your next sprint.
Even when resources are scarce, meeting religiously helps to highlight the importance and significance of the team/project. More about growth meetings here.

Last but not least, the amount of experiments being run is directly proportional to the results you get. The process itself should be your best and most reliable lever — it is what guarantees the best outcome. The more tests, the better!

Growth Systems and its Components was originally published in Growth Hackers on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.






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