By: Brian Balfour



(Like video more than reading?  View the video with this post.) 

Most companies start their hunt for growth by searching for the latest and greatest tactics.  You can see this in the popularity of the endless posts entitled something like “37 Tactics To Explode Your Growth.”  If you find yourself continually reading articles in that vein, stop right now.  You are starting in the wrong place.  

The Growth Machine system is designed to build a long lasting, repeatable growth machine within your organization.  You won’t achieve that by starting with tactics. You need to start by building a deep foundation for growth at your company. Foundations are built upon principles, not tactics.  

Principles → Process → Team → Tactics

Principles are your foundation. They establish the tone for everything else you do. They are the core values that guide your team towards success.  They direct the formation of your process, form part of your hiring template for team members, and help make tough decisions when the answer isn’t clear.  In the next section we will go through the five most common principles found on high performing growth teams.

How does the team come up with ideas? How do they prioritize competing efforts with limited resources? How do they test those ideas? How do they improve over time? Your process answers all of these questions and scales your team’s capacity for generating growth. Think of it as the operating system for your team - a set of frameworks that help the team make decisions, solve problems, evaluate performance, and improve, without you, as the manager, even being in the room.  You input goals and by going through specific steps of brainstorming, prioritizing, testing, etc the process spits out tactics that help you reach your goal.  In a future section we will walk through this process step by step. 

You need a mix of people with a common DNA and set of skills organized to execute your process.  But what is that DNA?  What skill sets are needed?  Those are determined by your principles and process, along with the type of problems your team is tackling.  After we walk through the process step by step, we’ll talk about how you hire and structure a team around the process.  

Finally, tactics. Tactics are the output of your process, which is operated by your team. Tactics are the the unique combination of parts that form your growth machine. I say unique, because every company’s set of tactics are different. Your job is to figure out the unique combination that makes your growth scale.

Frequency Of Change

This pyramid also represents how often each one of these layers should be changing.  As you move up the pyramid, the rate of change for each layer increases.

Your principles should be stable -  a constantly shifting foundation makes it hard to execute.  I recommend reviewing them, and how you are applying them, annually at a team offsite. 

Your process may adapt quarterly. I’ll talk more in future posts about how to optimize your process over time. But it typically happens when you’re reflecting on learnings at the end of an intense goal period.  

Your team may change monthly. You might not add or subtract team members, but as the manager, assess monthly if you have the right people in the right seats and constantly provide nudges to team members on how they can improve.  

Your tactics will change weekly, even daily, for some products. You should be constantly testing new tactics and implementing the ones that work, while questioning old tactics for effectiveness. Throw them out if they no longer produce results that align with your goals. 

Using This As A Guide

We’ll use the order of PrinciplesProcessTeam → Tactics as the sections to Building A Growth Machine.  I’ll cover the most common principles I have found in top performing growth teams. Then we’ll go into detail on the process that drives the growth machine. We’ll end on how to form and operate a team around that process.  We won’t be going into specific tactics because instead I will show you how to develop your own unique set of tactics that work for YOUR unique situation.


Build A Repeatable, Sustainable, Explosive Growth Machine

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