How to Run a High Performing Growth Team

Growth Manager is relatively a new role that was created by the start ups of Silicon Valley around year 2006-07. Although the official role of growth manager and growth team is new, the concept of growth itself is not new to companies.

Every company obviously wants growth and takes decision to grow their business every day. Growth team just removes the hurdles and discovers new ways to grow faster every day.

Companies such as Facebook, Uber and AirBnB have been using growth team to keep up their fast pace of growth. Check out the growth graph of Facebook below.

The company introduced growth team in 2008 and has been keeping a steady growth pace since then. This is also because growth and experimentation is a core value at Facebook.

Run a High Performing Growth Team

What is a Growth Team?

Traditionally, growing a company’s customer base has been the responsibility of marketing and sales. As new age start-ups found out, working in silos is not a good way to make breakthrough changes that accelerate a company’s growth.

Growth team is a cross-functional team of members who are charged with the responsibility of growth discovery and business innovation.

This is based on the realization that growth of a company is not just a function of marketing but also product innovation, better customer experience and so many other factors.

For this reason a growth team is typically made of growth manager, product manager, marketing expert, designer, engineer and data analyst.

This structure may change according to industry and stage of each company. The important thing is to have different perspectives in the team.

Working closely with other roles gives birth to game changing ideas that would never be possible with separated business functions.

What does Growth Team Do?

So what does a growth team do on a day to day basis?

The larger goal at any company will be to drive growth in business through innovation in product, delivery and marketing. The specific goals will depend from company. However, many companies prefer not having specific goals that limit creativity and out of box thinking.

The whole point of a growth team is to have unexpected results from the free flow of ideas between different functions.

As far as day- to- day activities are concerned, growth team is busy in brainstorming for new ideas, experimenting, A/B testing, data analysis, tweaking of products etc. Weekly meetings to analyze test results and implement what is working are also a part of the work.

How to build and Run a Growth Team?

According to Sean Ellis, founder of, success of growth team depends on two things:

1. Team
2. Process

Let’s look at both of them closely to understand how to run a high performing growth team.

1. Team

As mentioned above growth team is made up of experts form marketing, product development, product design, customer support and data analyst.

The growth team could be one growth manager with other resources borrowed temporarily when required or a ten person team with full time dedication to growth team.

A good way to start is to have a growth manager and important roles such as marketing and product manager in the team. Designers, engineers and data analyst can be borrowed as and when required.

You can always hire full time resources in case the external resources are being used very frequently.

Bigger companies with elaborate hierarchy will require a more defined team structure with role authority and responsibilities specified.

The growth teams in bigger companies will also need full support of senior management. For example, growth team must be given the authority to use data from any team, run tests in any department and recommend changes as per results.

A start up with a small team will automatically have everyone working together and hence a better environment for a growth team.

In the end success of growth teams also depends on the company culture. Rapid learning and data driven testing must be a part of company DNA for growth teams to thrive.

2. Process

Even the best of teams need an effective process to deliver. Here is a process that Sean Ellis recommends and is also being followed by most of the successful companies in Silicon Valley.

Run a High Performing Growth Team

The process starts with coming up with ideas to test and looking at re-arranging things in your business that could impact growth. For example, the marketing manager may want to try targeting a completely different market segment.

After brainstorming on ideas the next step is to select the tests to run. Tests should be selected based on the ICE parameters.

Impact Potential – there is no use running a test that will increase traffic by 1% only
Ease of testing – Some tests are easy to set up whereas others take weeks. Choose tests that are worth the effort.

The next step is to launch your test, collect results and make sense of it. Learning from these results must be captured and shared with everyone. Changes that show positive result must be immediately implemented and measured for success.

Final Thoughts

Successful companies run three to ten experiments every week. Facebook ‘people you may know’ feature and Amazon’s product listings are all result of tests run by growth teams.

In today’s high paced world companies cannot afford to fall behind changes in the market. Growth teams allow you to learn about your product and market rapidly and continuously.