Your Own Growth Experiment Management System

March 17, 2020

Hello World!

In our first blog, we are going to uncover why a product like LightCat should exist to manage your growth team. After reading through a number of resources and talking to dozens of Growth teams, we are building LightCat - a Growth Experiment Management System.

Why does the Growth Team need a tool built specifically for them? This blog is an attempt to answer that question.

Let’s first define what Growth really means, ‘Growth’ is a broad term and has been used in a variety of contexts. In LightCat’s context, we mean Growth Marketing or Growth Product. Here’s how Julian Shapiro of DemandCurve defines Growth Marketing

It's a rigorous methodology consisting of experimenting, collecting data, and leveraging human psychology. All in pursuit of directly maximizing revenue — not raising brand awareness or generating buzz.

Why are Growth teams more relevant today than ever?

Building a great product alone will not lead to growth. With fierce competition and ample choices for the user, companies have to assure users stick to their product to meet business targets. Approaching this problem scientifically is the only solution to sustainable growth. Andrew Chen has a brilliant essay on how to build Growth Teams where he also covers their importance. Here are the key reasons why Growth teams should exist according to him -

  • The product death cycle which leads to a constant cycle of adding new features, seeing an initial spike, after which the growth flattens and a new feature is added. Companies go through this cycle multiple times before eventually dying.
  • Product Growth requires a completely different skillset than Product Management.
  • Growth needs to be looked at as a system, just like “agile” and “design thinking”. The objective of growth teams is to increase business metrics by employing a scientific and data-backed approach.

A common trait among the fastest-growing companies like Google, Slack, Uber, Pinterest and many more is that they have dedicated growth teams.

What are the challenges that exist within Growth Teams?

Collaboration is difficult as Growth Teams are cross-functional by nature. It has at least has one or more of these personas - Product Manager, Engineer, Marketer, Data Analyst and Designer. We have also seen Customer Success teams being part of the growth teams. These teams use a mix of tools to get work done.

  1. Documenting - Tools like Google Docs, internal Wikis, Notion are being used to document the design of the experiment and also to systemize the learnings.
  2. Planning - Spreadsheets and Kanban boards are most commonly used. The usual suspects here are Google Sheets, Airtable, Trello and even Jira.
  3. Analysis - Apart from product analytics tools like Google Analytics, Amplitude and Mixpanel, companies also end up using advanced tools to crunch numbers like Tableau, PowerBI and Mode.
  4. Collaboration - Can we imagine living without Slack?
No tool acts as a single source of truth which makes teams misaligned and unproductive.  

Team structures vary from company to company and are also constantly evolving. Regardless of the organisation structure, growth teams need to move fast. Inter-team dependencies and lack of clarity on tasks and outcomes make the workflow cumbersome and slow.

Processes within teams constantly change based on the outcome of experiments. Tools should help accelerate the adoption of these changes.

Prioritisation frameworks that are currently being used are mostly subjective and there is ample opportunity to make it objective and data-backed. The most popular of them all is the ICE framework which scores an experiment on Impact, Confidence and Effort. All these parameters are quite subjective and the scores will vary from person to person for the same experiment. Andrew Chen introduces a parameter called ‘Upside’ which comes very close to being objective. Jeff Chang introduced the HIPE Framework where he talks about Precedent, which is an important parameter to consider while prioritising. Regardless of your choice of prioritisation framework.

Removing subjectivity and personal biases while prioritizing will lead to more data-backed decisions.

Alignment within the team and with the larger organisational strategy is probably the most crucial aspect that mid-large growth leaders should solve for. Spencer Lanoue, Growth at Buffer has written about how to set OKRs for Growth teams. It is essential to get buy-in from across the board to overcome any sort of friction. With each experiment, the team gets closer to its objective and key results. It is important to establish a system in place that can help bring people on the same page without which the Growth team’s motivation gets hindered. Brian Balfour, in fact, borrows principles from OKR to help align Growth teams.

Goals are achieved faster when each member of your team understands why and what she is working towards.

Systemizing is the last step of the Growth process and probably amongst the one that is most neglected. Making experiments searchable is one of the dreams of Growth teams according to Darius Contractor, who currently heads Growth at Airtable. How will you search if you do not document them?

Systemizing your learnings is key to sustainable growth. You need to know what worked and why, which is impossible if you do not document them.

How does LightCat solve the above problems for Growth Teams?

LightCat is built specifically for Growth Teams. We want to make growth teams more efficient. We are a Growth team in every sense - we think and act like one. LightCat is built on process suggested by well-acclaimed leaders of Growth like Brian Balfour, Joey DeBruin, Ricardo Ghekiere amongst others.

LightCat is an off the shelf product for Growth teams which adapts to your process, gets smarter with time and helps you increase the rate of experiments by removing all roadblocks.

Why should you give LightCat a shot?

Growth teams are designed to be fast and data-driven and LightCat unlocks their true potential. As a Growth leader, if you want to -

  • build a culture of making data-backed decisions,
  • remove subjectivity from your decisions, and
  • motivate and empower your team,

hit me up and book a demo of LightCat to get the conversation going!