“You’re doing great so far!” The engineer beamed - coming from a manager, this was good news. “For next quarter, I’m assigning you to the newly-formed growth pod.”
Rut row. You’d think the transition from Core Product to Growth would go smoothly; this is rarely the case. Growth Engineers require a fundamentally different skillset and mindset to be successful. Let me explain.
A Product Engineer is a Formula 1 Racing Engineer.
The car is their baby. The job is to spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking and improving a vehicle that can go 100 laps as speedily as possible.
A Growth Engineer is a Redbull Flugtag Prototyper
The car is going to go off a pier and into the water. Then it will probably sink. The job is to make 100 prototype cars that won’t even make it one lap. Flugtag is mostly a marketing stunt, and they’re comfortable and aligned with that.
If you ask a Formula 1 Racing Engineer to work on Flugtag, they’ll spend too long trying to build the perfect car, and then sulk as it slowly sinks to the bottom of the bay. Then they’ll quit.
Meanwhile, a strong growth engineering team embraces the “growth” part of the job. They’ll be comfortable with scrappiness, a high rate of failure, and a focus on business outcomes. This kind of team wipes the floor with a “product engineering” team sent to work on growth.
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Be deliberate when you assemble your Growth Engineering team. How you recruit, interview, manage, and incentivize your engineers will make all the difference.