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Thinking like Growth Hacker: Mindset

Let’s talk about building traction or engagement.

The first thing that comes to your mind?
Growth techniques? Like SEM, content marketing, mobile marketing or many others.
Famous case studies? Like Airbnb’s pro photographers growth hack.

They are super exciting, but without fitting in the bigger picture they are useless.
What’s making the big picture is your mindset.
Something way more fundamental and basic

Mindset is the way you approach things – how you interpret facts, plan and act.

Do you create detailed business plans or build on few key hypothesis?
How significantly your plans change over time?
How do you interpret failures? Can failure be any good?
What’s more important to you: output or outcome?
How do you build and launch products?

The mindset that I found the most successful for building growth is opposite to what you can learn in business school or in one of the traditional companies. It requires the specific way of looking at things.

There are six concepts that I believe everyone in growth position should not only be aware of but even learn by heart and use them in everyday work. Let’s call this collection of concepts – The Growth Mindware.

Why mindware?

Mindware – rules, procedures and other forms of knowledge that are stored in memory and can be retrieved in order to make decisions and solve problems (Stanovich, 2009).

The key thing about mindware is to use it on a daily basis to make decisions and solve problems.

So what’s the magic six?

Growth Mindware

Growth Mindware consists of:

1. Lean Startup principles
Lean Startup is all about eliminating waste, rapid learning and reducing uncertainty on your way to build the next ‘unicorn’. In the heart of this methodology is so called build-measure-learn loop. It is about quickly turning ideas into products and learning from real users response rather than relying on biased opinions of experts, surveys or reports.

2. Explore Mode vs Exploit Mode
Two approaches towards two very different kind of situations: highly unpredictable and well-known. You must be able to flexibly switch between innovation and execution mode. In the innovation mode you aim at disruption, you learn a lot but you also keep failing often. In the execution mode however you care mostly about efficiency and incremental improvements.

3. Lean Metrics
Nowadays it is easily to get overwhelmed with huge amount of data that nobody is able to process. The challenge is to avoid vanity metrics and focus on the actionable ones. In fact, there are couple more challenges – like: How to balance vision (the so-called Reality Distortion Field) and data? or How to make sure you can trust your data?

4. Pareto (20/80 Rule)
Not all activities are equally important to move your business forward. To stay effective you must differentiate between the few super important ones and many many irrelevant. Every activity that doesn’t bring added value to your business and you keep doing it is a waste of your time (from a business perspective at least – as John Lennon said “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted”).

5. Frameworks
Pictures can say a thousand words (sometimes even 500 billion words). It is important to simplify complex things like processes or business models and build a common understanding with your team and external stakeholders with visual frameworks. Sometimes you can use a ready-to-use templates like Business Model Canvas or Spotify’s Product Development model. Yet, often you will have to adjust them to your needs or build one from scratch.

6. MVP – Minimum Viable Product
The highest risk these days is not about technology. It is not a question of “Can we build it?”. Especially when it comes to the web products you can assume that you are able to build nearly everything – it is just a matter of cost. The biggest question is: “Should we build it?”. That’s why you should focus on learning about your customers rather than building features. MVP is all about deploying the product to user as soon as possible and validated learning.

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If you want to build your own growth mindset I recommend to read these books.