Growth from User 0

with Morgan Brown

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Growth Canvas

Impact, confidence, and ease

Morgan Brown

Growth Hacker, Entrepreneur, Marketing Exec

Lessons Learned

One person cannot come up with enough ideas to make the company grow. Growth is a team sport.

The key to growth is high tempo testing.

Run your growth experiments like an agile process. Rate projects on impact, confidence, and ease.


Lesson: Growth from User 0 with Morgan Brown

Step #10 Growth Canvas: Impact, confidence, and ease

I believe that growth is a team sport, and that there is no lone growth hacker, that the best organizations have a cross functional team that depends on the organization, where the strengths lie, where they report into. But is made up of engineers, product people, marketers, sales, and executive leadership. I think that in any early stage company executive leadership have to be fully bought in to growth. In most companies you have a technical founder and a non-technical founder. One of those people has to wear the growth hat too. Growth can't be delegated, because if growth is delegated then it doesn't get the prioritization and the resources that it needs to actually be effective. So early stage, the CEO, the CTO, they have to be involved in growth.

I think over time growth teams can evolve to come from different departments. Some companies will have the growth team kind of sit in the product organization. Some companies will have growth team be a cross functional team that isn't its own business unit, but that is made up of people across the different business units. I think that trying to figure that out is really up to the business and where their strengths are. But I do believe that there has to be a team, not just one person responsible for it. And that the best growth levers typically live within the product. Especially for the technology start-ups and that type of thing, if you believe that ultimately, word of mouth is going to be the biggest driver as you scale, then that comes from product excellence, and it comes from natural product use driving growth. So it makes sense for the growth team to sit in the product organization.

A lot of marketers, especially in high tech companies, straddle the fence between product and marketing, and should be involved, because you need a really strong connection between the top of the funnel, or the beginning of the loop, and what happens throughout the product experience. So, you want people from multiple places. And then, I think the best organizations, growth is an organizational priority. It's not left to one department or one team. But everyone thinks about growth, whether its someone in legal thinking about how they can streamline the contract process to get more deals done, to HR properly interviewing and hiring for growth minded people, to engineering thinking of growth as a priority and not as spam, or something they have to deal with so they can get back to solving harder problems.

Once you get everyone on the same page, that's where really powerful growth gets unlocked. So many product or engineering folks are focused on core product and they think about growth as like, we're going to build our product and then we're going to bolt growth on afterwards. And airplanes don't fly because they're cars with wings stuck on them. Airplanes fly because they're designed from the ground up to fly.

So one of the things that we found at Qualaroo and at Growth Hackers is that the key to growth is this idea of high tempo testing. The idea that just being able to run a lot of experiments can drive your growth. And it almost doesn't matter the quality of the experiment, and that's hearsay. But it's true, we found that just by having a good tempo of growth experiments, we were able to unlock new growth winds that we weren't finding early on.

What we do is we've kind of adapted an agile approach to growth and created a whole methodology to drive growth which is really focused on a couple of key things. One is unbridled ideation, so getting the whole company involved in coming up with growth ideas. In any business you're going to have, an investor has a great idea for growth. It comes in the form of an email. You're going to have a sales person who's hounding the marketing team for ways to improve the number of leads, and in the past, you can almost bristle at them as kind of, unwelcome advice, or ideas and you know what you want to do.

So when you switch to unbridled ideation, you welcome all those inputs. And all those inputs are fuel for potential growth, and since you're all invested in the success of the company anyway, it doesn't really matter where the idea comes from. But you want to encourage that ideation. And then once you have those ideas you need a way to prioritize them, get them pre-flighted, and then get them out there and win, and keep small batch sizes so you can create this momentum.

So we built an internal tool called Canvas that lets us manage these growth experiments, and it lets everyone ideate the whole team. And when we talk about team, we mean people on the actual team across the org, investors, our best customers, friends of the company. Multiple inputs, as many ideas as possible. And then we use an internal scoring system called, we use the acronym ICE, which stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease, and we rate each idea on those three vectors. So the impact we think that it’s going to have, the confidence in that idea, and how easy it is to get it out the door.

And then each week we hold a growth meeting, and we run it almost like an actual scrum. So we groom the backlog, we identify experiments to launch that week. We look at previous week's tests in learning, and we figure out what we're going to do for the week, and we do that every week, and it's really unlocked a tremendous growth. So right now Canvas is kind of, is definitely in a closed beta. But the process and the tool kind of go hand in hand, and we've been able to unlock a ton of growth. And we're excited to bring it out to market eventually. It's not quite ready, but it's almost there. But I think just getting in the mind set of a high tempo culture has been really powerful for us for growth.

Making ideas an asset as opposed to a burden, and that type of thing, has been really powerful. And getting people to contribute their ideas, it's amazing. One person can not hope to come up with all the ideas to make a company grow, so enabling all those folks to have real meaningful input has been really powerful for us.

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