Like Computer Hacking? No.

Babies grow up so fast, don’t they? Well, at least that’s what my mom says about me. But that’s what babies do, they grow, and grow, and grow, until they’re sitting behind a desk, writing blogs on Growth-Hacking.

You can’t hack a child’s growth. I mean, you can give it vitamins and make sure it’s well-fed, but for the most part, you have to wait about 20 years before the growing is done. It’s natural and normal, and there is really no way to speed up the process.

Companies, on the other hand, can have their growth influenced in a process called growth-hacking.

Source: Family Guy

What is growth hacking? Well, it’s not some magic program or some unheard-of algorithm. It’s more or less a process that has the entire organization focus on one goal at a time. These goals are typically short term, but when stacked, allow for quick success and, well, growth.

The problem? Most of the time, the goals of each department in business are separate. Though they know the overall goal of the company is growing, sometimes their efforts aren’t directly contributing to it.

That’s where your friendly neighborhood tech giants come into play. They know that this “fragmentation” is a problem, and they’ve developed a successful solution to combat it.

The Approach.

So, what are the “Facebooks” and “Ubers” of the world doing to, well, hack their growth? They’re adopting an approach called growth hacking, or growth process, that radically changes the way their business operates.

Well what does this approach consist of? Three key ingredients:

Integrated Strategy
Rapid + Experimentation
Quantitative and Qualitative Insight

All of which I will cover in detail.

Integrated Strategy.

Before I jump headfirst into the business side of things, let’s take a look at football. American football.

During the game, you have both the offense and defense on the field at the same time. The offense has the sole purpose of marching into the other team’s end zone and scoring a touchdown. The defense has the sole purpose of stopping the offense from doing that. Yes, there are various ways and methods of doing each, but for the most part, the goals are clear cut.

Let’s take a closer look at the offense. You have the quarterback, whose job it is to call plays and successfully move the ball down the field. The line, who blocks on behalf of the quarterback. The receivers, whose job is to get open and catch the ball. The running backs, who are the ball carriers for a running play. All of these have very different roles that overall contribute to the end goal of scoring for their respective team.

Source: NFL

If the line fails, the quarterback gets sacked. If the receiver is blocked, a play isn’t made. If the running back fumbles, the other team can potentially recover the ball. Even though they have the overall goal of scoring, they each have to make sure that they are successful within their own objectives.

Okay, now that you’re a football expert, how does this apply to your organization? Well, it’s basically the same thing. You have a sales team, a marketing team, consumer relations, etc.; all different teams operating under one roof.

However, more often than not, these teams are acting as their own entities, without the overall organization in mind. But this isn’t the right way to grow, at least, as fast as you would like.

For a successful case, look at the tech giant, Facebook. A massive part of their success lies in decision maker’s (Mark, I’m looking at you) keen focus on one business goal at a time, executed across all business functions. For example, for a large part of their existence, their goal was one thing, user acquisition (and, if I say so myself, they were pretty successful).

Like a football team, Facebook made sure that all functionalities were set on one goal, while still completing their respective tasks. If one of these functionalities fails or strays from the goal, well, the company can’t succeed.

Rapid + Experimentation.

 ‘Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first, you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again.

-William Edward Hickson

 You’re not going to get it write the first time. I mean, it’s pretty hard to get it right the first time. You should approach this time of optimization as a learning experience; expect to try different approaches to get it right.

Maybe some objectives you assigned to the marketing team aren’t necessarily contributing to the overall picture, or maybe some of the clients you’re looking at don’t fit your ideal customer. That’s fine! As I said, this is a time of trial and error; experimentation.

Just keep some things in mind during this period to not get too discouraged. The first is that change takes time, you won’t become Uber overnight. Just be patient, and follow through with things past the point where you think you tried too long; give yourself a chance.

And second, if you’re looking to mimic the biggest and best, understand that what works for some companies might not work for you. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take some practices and information from them, but maybe their whole approach won’t work for you, and that’s okay, you just have to experiment to find out what does.

Now, this is time consuming and resource consuming. If you’re a larger organization with resources to spare, go to town with experimenting. If you’re a startup, I’m not discouraging your experimenting, but you might want to take on an observer role for other experimenting organizations, so you don’t have to use the limited resources you already have.

Quantitative and Qualitative.

You can’t really (SHOULD NOT REALLY) make decisions in the business world without data to back your decision. And decisions here are no different, especially in the critical experimentation stage where resources are being thrown around left and right.

That’s where both qualitative and quantitative data comes in. Collect the why (qualitative) and what (quantitative) to not only accurately monitor what is and isn’t working, but to get away to measure your efforts.

Well, that’s it. How to grow the right way. Yes, I know that this is a very high level, but it will put you on the right path to find what works for you. Stay tuned for more in the realm of growth hacking.