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Maintaining alignment amidst rapid growth
As a product or growth leader, how do you maintain alignment when the company is hiring 50-70 people every month?
I faced this exact situation in my time at Snyk.
I’m not going to lie - it was difficult.
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Lack of alignment creates ambiguity, miscommunication and inefficiencies.
And there were many things we needed to create alignment around in the context of growth at Snyk.
Here are just a few examples:
getting people across the company on the same page about what PLG is and what it meant to Snyk
developing a shared understanding of the growth model
building consensus around pricing and packaging changes
keeping people up to date about the current strategic focus
helping people know about planned experiments and experiment results
evolutions in the focus of the growth team
keeping the growth teams in sync and able to leverage each others learnings
I had to think about both the alignment of the teams and individuals within the growth group, and about the alignment of growth with the rest of the company.
Alignment within the growth group
When teams working on different parts of growth are aligned, you’re at an advantage. You can share and leverage learning across the group, and you can better plan to create an outsized impact.
An important meeting to facilitate better alignment was a fortnightly Growth Leads sync.
That involved the PM, Eng lead, and Designer for each team, plus the growth group decision scientist and growth leaders, including myself.
Topics discussed in that call included metrics, learnings, strategic opportunities, hypotheses and so on.
But that was a means to an end - those topics just supported what the real focus was - discussion about how the teams could better work together.
As an example, the team focused on activation would surface some insights they had around the activation data for a specific cohort of teams as broken down by acquisition channel, which led to some further experiments and, ultimately, a change in focus for the team working on acquisition, and a closer working relationship between those teams in the overall goal of bringing in higher quality new users.
We also had a bunch of Slack channels across the group for different purposes, from reviewing tracking plans to reviewing and discussing experiment plans to dedicated channels for the work and tracking around each experiment.
I’ve written before about Impact and Learnings reviews, sharing some tips for running them.
For me, the impact and learnings reviews were the most important ritual and ceremony in the growth group at Snyk, and I’d argue should be for any growth team.
Each team held their own weekly I&L reviews. They served to reinforce the habit around the way we wanted the teams to be thinking about growth.
We also held a monthly group-wide I&L review.
These sessions were the vehicle to socialise team-level learnings across the group and to a wider set of stakeholders from across the company.
The focus was always on surfacing learnings and insights that might have leverage beyond the context in which they were originally discovered.
Anyone could attend if they wanted, but we’d also share the slides and recording on Slack later.
So it had this dual purpose of creating alignment within the growth group, but also more broadly across the company.
It played an important role in demystifying growth.
Alignment with the rest of the company
If you don’t have strong alignment between what you’re doing in growth and with the rest of the company, you’ll increasingly become siloed and disconnected.
Individuals, teams and entire functions won’t understand what growth does and how that relates to their work.
So this is a critical area for any growth leader to focus on.
At a micro-level, it’s important to encourage healthy day-to-day collaboration between the people and teams in growth and those across the rest of the company.
Growth shouldn’t operate in a vacuum.
The richer that level of collaboration and the ongoing exchange of context in the fabric of the teams, the less reliant you’ll be on other means of building alignment.
But those other things will still be important.
At Snyk, we built out a central growth group hub on Notion that included things like
each of the growth pods, their remit, and who was in them
our growth principles
the growth process
documentation of the growth strategy
the growth model
ideas and opportunities
the analytics and experimentation paved road
breakdowns of opportunity and experiment templates
guidance on becoming an experiment leads
And we’d make sure it was always up to date.
We’d post weekly updates focused on metrics and learnings in a company-wide PLG Slack channel (#plg).
We’d do a similar thing monthly but with more detail and month-over-month and quarter-over-quarter reporting.
We’d also make all those updates available in Notion pages with richer formatting for easier consumption and to create a searchable repository.
We’d proudly share the things that didn’t go as we expected, highlighting what we learned.
It’s a common mistake for people to hide some of the messy workings and the failures that you go through.
Growth shouldn’t be a black box. You need to open it up and let people see inside.
But remember, alignment isn’t just about sharing what you’re doing and where you’re going. It’s about building a shared context that lets you all move together and amplify each other’s efforts.
So aligning with the cadences outside of growth was really important too.
We ran the same sprint cadence as the rest of R&D and participated in the same R&D-wide sprint demos.
We’d run data-driven development workshops for core product teams outside of growth, each tailored to their use cases, enabling them to more easily adopt the next-gen behavioural analytics and experimentation processes and tooling that we’d put in place.
We had a company-wide Google calendar for visibility of any planned and in-flight experiments.
We built Slack workflows for crowdsourced idea generation to democratise that part of the process.
We’d also have regular syncs with the BizOps team on the growth model and assumptions to ensure we were aligned with the larger financial model for the company.
We had a monthly PLG steering committee which was our sync with key folks from the exec team to keep them up to date on what we’d been doing and what we were planning to do in growth, and have a place for open discussion about that.
We’d also present every few company all-hands meetings, usually around key events like the introduction of new metrics for activation and engagement that had utility beyond just growth.
All of this was a lot of work.
But it was essential work.
When the company is growing that fast, each and every month, you end up with a significant number of the team at large missing context.
And those that have had context before often need to be reminded.
Remember - repetition never spoilt the prayer!
Go forth and align
I hope this has given you some food for thought on the importance of creating strong alignment (at many levels) with your growth efforts, and given you some practical ideas on things you can do here.
Of course, the same lessons can be applied in many fields - it’s just that, in my experience, growth is less well understood than others, and often demands that extra effort with alignment.
Until next time!
PS: Don’t forget to check out the free Amplitude guide on ‘How to get started with PLG’.
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