Stop Complicating Growth

ESS, OMTM, A3R3, OPP (yea, you know me), O2I 

Do you know every one of these terms? If the answer to that question wasn't "yes" you have failed in your career as a growth practitioner, turn in your Optimizely Macbook sticker & leave.

Not really, though. I don't know any of those terms, nor do I care to learn. I see them plastered in a lot of articles I read and, quite frankly, I don't think it's worth the mind share for me to look up what they are. 

The concept of Growth programs in tech started off at the hands of some smart marketers - one specific smart marketer, actually, Sean Ellis. Sean is a smart guy & has wicked dance moves. He was a t-shaped, analytically-focused marketer with a brilliant eye for user behaviour. I wish I could understand users half as well as he could.

Unfortunately, when he coined "Growth Hacking" and introduced it as technical marketing he created a double edged sword: on one hand, the discipline exploded in popularity. On the other hand, it met with the wrong kind of popularity.

The thing about marketing is that it has a low skill floor and a very high skill ceiling. That is to say, there's a lot of shitty marketers, but the ones that are good are really damn good. The guys at the top have always preached what growth always was: experiment-driven optimization of a product's growth mechanisms. Unfortunately, growth quickly got hijacked by the lowest common denominator and became this buzzword-infested, gimmicky mess that it's become associated with today. When you search articles on Growth, you're not greeted with statistical research or peer-reviewed case studies. Instead, you get to sift through hundreds of horrible articles written by freelance digital marketers about what email copy increased the click-through-rate of their crappy emails by +500%.

We need to take a step back and rebuild the foundations of what "Growth" is. Growth is not marketing, and you do not need to know "marketing" to be a good growth optimizer. 

Growth does not need hordes of gimmicks and dozens of obscure metrics defining it's work. Growth is the engineering process of using data to explore ways to optimize a product's growth mechanisms. That's it.

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