SAN FRANCISCO — Growth is typically a companywide focus at small companies and startups. And larger organizations tend to have dedicated growth teams.

But size alone doesn't set the path: what’s more important in determining how a company handles growth are structure, vision and culture.

That was a key takeaway at Startup Socials’ Growth Marketing Conference at Hotel Kabuki here yesterday. Archana Agrawal, who heads data science and growth marketing at Atlassian, described how the company started with 5 million monthly active users and established the goal of 100 million.

More often than not, growth teams are cross-functional, relying on a mix of positions and skillsets. It is up to an organization to define goals and direction to promote growth.

“It starts with a growth mindset,” Agrawal said.

Define Growth at Your Organization

Ada Chen Rekhi, VP of marketing at SurveyMonkey, Tali Rapaport, VP of product at Lyft, and Aliisa Rosenthal, director of sales at Mixpanel, talked about integrating product, sales and marketing to drive growth during a panel discussion on winning growth formulas.

One of the first steps in growing an organization is understanding what stage it is in, Rapaport said. Lyft uses its overwhelming amount of data and produces a “weather report” for everyone. It's essential to define what growth means at the company, which is something a lot of teams miss, she said.

Make sure there’s a “consistent story about how your organization grows,” she added.

Lyft introduced a feature called business profiles that lets users track their business and personal rides. That feature was an example of product, sales and marketing looking simultaneously at ways to improve user experience, Rapaport said.

Rosenthal said her company's key metric for growth is average daily usage. “That’s what we really obsess over. It helps us forecast churn. We review it every team meeting. It’s really crucial to make sure everyone is aligned.”

Rekhi agreed the key is getting people on the same page. Everyone’s role should be growth, but “[defining growth] is a surprisingly difficult thing to negotiate sometimes,” Rekhi said.

Make sure your organization or team measures one thing and that it aligns across the board, she said.

Create a Growth Structure

At Atlassian, Agrawal’s growth team consists of A/B testing, data science, marketing analytics, data engineering and growth product marketers.

“Growth is really a long-term game. It’s very rarely one person’s job. It’s very rarely one team’s job,” Agrawal said.

But Juney Ham, CMO of Hired, presented other ways to organize a growth team. Ham also led teams at Expedia and Airbnb before joining Hired.

Think about which way works best for your organization, whether it is by function, business units or users. It may make sense to structure your team by function and channels, depending on the amount and types of roles, or separate people by business units and whether they are supply- or demand-side for users, Ham said.

Successful growth teams need to have four qualities, Ham continued. Because of a fast-changing market, teams in this role need to be multidisciplinary and collaborative. They need to be flexible and comfortable with change, use data and experiments and hustle.