Types of Growth Teams
My favorite type of grow team is the permanent team. And I call a permanent team a team where you have product, growth, and you have operations and admin. I love the simplicity of this structure because you could say, if you're on the product team, your job is to make something amazing. That's your job, make something amazing. I think one of the worst things in the world that you could do is to ask your product team to also sell what they make. Your responsibility is to make something amazing. Growth team, you already know, grow revenue. Own the customer journey. Operations, admin team, make sure all the bills get paid and the doors don't get locked on us, right? They serve the customer. They serve the revenue goals of the business. And ops and admins serves the team to make sure that everything's okay. I love the simplicity of that structure. Now I recognize- I'm not suggesting that all of these are necessarily c-level roles, and that you should collapse your company into just like ha...
ving three c-level positions, okay? These are broad terms. That's why you don't see me calling it Chief Product Officer or anything like that. And often times it makes sense to spread out that hierarchy. But I love just thinking about the simplicity of these groupings, right, product, growth, ops. But having a dedicated growth team, that encompasses all four of those roles that's a direct report to the CEO is my favorite. Now, within a legacy company, good frickin' luck. Cause you got a c-level person who owns marketing and who owns sales, and who maybe owns something else. And to say, hey, good news everybody, we're gonna be collapsing this team. Which means, you just got a demotion, Fred. Ain't gonna happen, right? Fred's gonna freak out, and understandably so. So usually when growth teams are getting launched, they're getting launched as a strike team. Okay, so let's talk about a more traditional thing, CEO, product, marketing, sales, and admin, an executive led strike team. So if you're here, you're watching this and you wanna kinda test this idea out as a grow team, you can begin to launch a strike team that reports directly to you. Now you would wanna do this if you have a legacy sales and marketing team, especially if you have a legacy marketing team. There are lots of marketing departments who do not see digital marketing as a part of their job description. I know because we work with a lot of new Chief Marketing Officers and people like that who are replacing the previous guy who just got fired because they didn't see digital as a part of their responsibility. They got to learn the hard way that moving forward, if you don't see digital and demand generation, as an aspect of your job as a marketer, you're probably not gonna be around for very long. But at legacy companies, sometimes the case, and you have these marketing departments where they're primarily responsible for brand. They're working with agencies, they're doing a lot of PR, right? And so it falls out of the traditional growth category. So if that's kinda the company that you're in, then you could launch it as a separate, side-load project, alright, as a direct report to the CEO. Where I've seen this done a lot is on the product team. This is very, very, very common in the Valley, very, very common for a growth team to report into product. I am biased heavily against this. I'm very biased against this. I do not like putting the pressure on my product team to also drive growth. I believe product should produce something amazing. For the same reason I believe my dentist should have no frickin' clue who I am, okay? I believe product should be responsible for producing something amazing. But it's very common in startups to not have any marketing team whatsoever. You only have a product team, right? So if a product team's all you got, then sure, have it be on growth. But I don't think long term it should be where you want it to live. Maybe they execute a particular strategy. This is really what we saw, Facebook did this forever ago, when they had the mobile team. You know, the mobile team, like let's get us to go mobile. That was a grow team that reported to product. It eventually got spun out and became a separate growth department. And this has happened across lots and lots of organizations, where it started as a strike team, within the product team, to do something special. And they said that was great, let's move around. Pretty common out here, again, I don't prefer it. I don't prefer it. Hopefully, you've got a marketing department that is forward thinking, and that is open to doing this. But they're also a little bit nervous about rocking the apple cart, so in that case, having a growth team reporting into marketing, can make a lot of sense. I've only never seen, and I've done this a lot, but not like 100 times, right? But I've worked with dozens of companies, just to give you some perspective in the order of magnitude. I've worked with dozens of companies. I have never really seen it work piloting a growth team through the sales department. I've never seen it work. I've seen people try, but I've never seen it work. Invariably what we've had is sales executives seeing the grow team as kind of a pawn in their greater plans. And what you do is you provide an enormous scapegoat when sales doesn't hit their goals if you have growth report into them, because you don't have this balance of blame that I'm about to show you in just a second, okay. So just some final thoughts on grow team structure. Executive buy-in is essential. Okay, if there's no executive support, it's going to be very, very, very difficult to do this. If you're in this room or if you're watching at home and you are the executive, then hopefully you have buy-in. If not, you gotta try to convince them that, him or her, that this is something that's worthy. This was a tough thing to do 10 years ago. It was less tough five years ago. It's not really difficult at all today. Teams are understanding that growth as a strategy is important. Strive to duplicate key, constrained resources on this growth team. So we're gonna talk about who makes up the grow team. But it's also good to think about, what are the needs of that particular grow team? Some big, big, big, biggies, where we see struggles happen are in design and some simple web development. Design and some simple web development, if you can give the grow team their own designer, and their own web developer, they're gonna be able to operate far more independently. When we've built this, and they're having to now share resources, and now people are getting frustrated, and it's horrible for the designers. Those are two areas where you're gonna find the biggest bottlenecks and constraint. So to the extent that you can, maybe it's borrow somebody from another team if you've got duplication in that role. Or maybe it's making a new hire down the road. But seek to do that, like I said, especially in design and development. Those are the two areas, when you're doing new growth projects that you need it the most. In existing companies, pilot a growth team prior to formal rollout. We're gonna close the session on exactly how to do that. There's something that I've found and I've made this mistake so many times as a leader at an organization. I'll hear a great idea. Go to a conference, maybe have dinner with a smart friend, hear a great idea, and I will come in the next morning, and I'll call a company meeting, and I'll say, okay guys, here's what we're gonna do. And I call it blowing the bugles, okay. If you ever find yourself about to do something and it would be appropriate for somebody to like dut-ta-do, just know you're about to make a horrible mistake. Okay, you're about to do something super stupid. You're about to freak out your entire team. And God love ya, you wanna move fast, and you wanna move quickly. But if you have a team that's entrenched, they're not gonna wanna move with you. So this is not about like going in and just shaking everything and breaking everything. I don't recommend that. Pilot the team first, we'll talk about how to do that. In startups, if you don't have any real sales and marketing, look to do a permanent growth team from the get go. I really believe that this is the future of sales and marketing. I do believe that in the future, the Chief Growth Officer, and we have this, it's very common. You have the Chief Revenue Officer, right, I don't like that terminology as much, because again, to me, it's more than just about revenue. It should be about growth, and growth comes in many different forms. But I think the role of the Chief Growth Officer is something that we're going to see emerging more and more. You see people that are the head of growth at companies, they're oftentimes reporting into the CEO. They just don't have a c-level title. I think it's coming, alright. I think it's coming, and if you can seek to do it, I believe that you're gonna be on the leading edge of that trend.