Composition of growth teams varies by company. Some have dedicated teams of people whose main focus is on growth metrics. Others pull together a growth team from key players across the company, but don’t form a full time growth team at all. Yet others have a one or two people focusing on growth part time.
And in the case of companies that do have growth teams, most also have a separate marketing team, but some companies run marketing from within their growth team.
There are endless combinations of how companies handle growth, and just because you don’t have a formal growth team doesn’t mean you can’t do growth!
However, for this series I’m going to group marketing and growth together as one team for simplicity, and I’m going to assume you have at least one person who will be able to spend at least half of their time on growth.
Growth product manager
Owner of the growth roadmap and facilitator of experiments and reporting. Coordinates with the engineering team as well as exec team. Growth PM’s often come from traditional product management roles, as the Growth PM is a newer function in most companies.
Growth Lead / Growth Marketer
Somebody who drives the day to day growth efforts at the company, runs experiments, and iterates on tests. The growth lead will likely also own one or more key areas of the funnel, such as paid acquisition, content marketing / SEO, referrals, activation, etc..
Data analyst / data scientist
Someone who understands data in and out, and who can help built and run tests. This person will likely co-own metrics and reporting, and will be the one running tough retention calculations if you’re doing these by hand.
An engineer who can implement technical experiments. This type of engineer needs to think broadly across the funnel, and will likely need to be somewhat flexible in thinking about their architecture – many times growth tests are throwaway in the early stages of experimentation. Growth engineers who are OK with this can thrive.
Someone to make experiments look & feel like a real experience. This role often will also run online or offline customer interviews related to experiments and the product.
Growth at the center
One way to look at growth from an organization standpoint is to put it at the center of the universe 🙂 Depending on what parts of your company you have, you’ll likely find that the growth team will intersect with them all.
If you want to grow, you need to get comfortable doing things that
- Don’t scale right away but have potential to scale down the road and
- Potentially engage every department, regardless of if they have previously engaged in marketing related activities.
There can be many variations of this diagram depending on the company, it’s needs, the market, product, and more. And based on what types of growth initiatives you are working on, you may end up pulling in folks from various other roles to help out.
How are growth teams structured?
There are many ways to structure a growth team, and many startups in initial traction stage may not have a dedicated team. Perhaps they just have 1 or 2 people working on growth ideas and starting to evangelize growth across the company. In other cases the company may have a dedicated team or multiple dedicated teams for growth. And yet in others, growth is a highly cross-functional matrixed setup. There are many ways to structure growth teams, and here are a few examples that are fairly common.
Small startup team structure
Here your Head of Product likely runs growth. At this stage, most companies can’t afford dedicated growth resources, so you’re likely looking at a team that is working on growth part time. The head of product coordinates growth items among the resources they have available, such as a marketer, data analyst/scientist, UX and/or Designer, and an engineer.
Growth stage shared structure (growth leader)
Here you have a dedicated head of growth, but you are still sharing resources for growth. It’s likely you may also have a dedicated or shared growth product manager, or the head of growth may run the growth product roadmap themselves. The head of growth or PM coordinates growth items among the resources they have available, such as a marketer, data analyst/scientist, UX and/or Designer, and an engineer.
Growth stage shared structure (growth embedded)
Here you don’t have a dedicated head of growth and instead your head of product runs growth initiatives. You may or may not have a growth product manager, and resources are pooled from other parts of the organization.
Growth stage independent structure
This is likely the most common structure for growth stage companies, and here you have an autonomous team of people focused on growth. The Head of Growth directly manages the team, and probably has a PM to help with roadmapping. This setup ensures that the company has a strong growth mindset, and while it’s not without its challenges organizationally, is likely a good option for companies serious about growth.
Growth stage functional structure
In this model the Head of Growth manages teams that are broken down by functional areas. The leads on these teams have an opportunity to do a deep dive within the functional area, but likely will switch functions at various points in time so they don’t get stuck in one area for too long.
Audio Interview with Seamus Leahy
How the world’s fastest companies structure and scale growth teams (15:39)
In this interview, I talk to Seamus Leahy. Seamus is one of the leading Growth Engineers in the country, having spent years as a Growth Engineer at companies like Twitter, Dropbox, Thumbtack & Votion. He’s seen many different growth team formations, and walks us through how these companies operate growth at scale.
Here’s a favorite quote of his from this interview:
“One thing I’ve learned about growth is that you have to have relationships with everybody across the company…every product…you are just so embedded in what they are doing”
During this interview Seamus goes into specific setups and scenarios that help ensure maximum growth. Enjoy!