I will be at the Founder Institute tomorrow talking about growth and growth teams. I’m using this as a chance to get my thoughts together on the topic.

  • The growth practice has matured. It wasn’t long ago we were talking about hacking our way to growth. Startups have recognized it’s importance, gone through the missteps and learned many things along the way. But progress couldn’t have happened without shared information from those on the frontlines. There are so many Medium posts, blogs, and books dedidcated to growth. There are even formal training and events. These have accelerated the growth practice.

  • From funnels to flywheels, we have better mental models for growth. The funnel is no longer enough to capture the dynamics of networks and marketplaces. Ecosystems are better modelled as flywheels so it’s easier to see how different sides interact with each other (e.g. creators and consumers). It also helps to understand the possible downstream impacts of any change. Focusing only on a funnel or a specific stage of a funnel is a limited view - growth has now taken a systems thinking approach.

  • The foundation of a good growth practice is data. Whether it is experiment frameworks, reporting tools or segmentation analysis - all depend on a good data infrastructure in place. Luckily many tools are available off the shelf to help startups get going (e.g. Taplytics of A/B testing, Mixpanel for reporting, etc).

  • There are now some well known best practices for a growth function. Growth teams require a shared mental model (a growth model), the infrastructure to experiment quickly (technical & data), good goalsetting practices (SMART), diversity of experiments (bottoms up not top down), and maybe most important - a culture that seeks learning. In early stage startups - everyone is on the growth team so this can be seen in everything the company does.

  • Growth at all costs isn’t true anymore (really, it never was). Bad things will happen when we don’t consider the second order impacts of growth, or maintain a negative ecosystem purely for growth reasons. These consequences are being discussed in the news everyday.