Predicting the unpredictable aspects of exponential Growth
As contradictory as it may sound, I hope to provide some insights into whether we can even predict the unpredictable. The past 11 months have been extraordinarily tough and the question to ask is, have we even emerged from these arduous times?
At the current pace of hypergrowth that the world is going through, one cannot deny the importance to somewhat predict the future. It is critical for us to do so to plan ahead and improve effectiveness of execution so that we can be strategically ready for the future. Logical? Well, let’s think again.
Circles.Life was launched in 2016 and back then, we knew going digital, in a personalised and delightful way, was the future, even for a Telco. We wanted to give power back to consumers through our game-changing digital offerings and no-contract mobile plans. These are the very reasons why we have been able to disrupt multiple markets we operate in. However, truth be told, we didn’t know that the world was going to be accelerated digitally by force in 2020 due to the pandemic, and I am pretty sure you didn’t either.
The tremendous surge in tech innovation since the 1990s has been extremely rapid. How do we stay relevant in such a situation? Riding the tech wave, Circles.Life has grown from a 5-person team in 2016 to ~400 employees in 2020. Sure it has been a chaotic journey but organising this very chaos has made us who we are today. While Circles.Life is still learning every day on this high-speed trajectory, allow me to share the mantras that we have acquired through these years that may also help catalyse your growth into the unknown:
We need a team who can articulate the role of growth as well as have a deep understanding over various growth models, experimentation programs and product tests in the funnel. At Circles.Life, we believe in driving such a culture through Product Managers who are curious, sensitive to data and willing to celebrate failures. According to “Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments” by Stefan H. Thomke, there are 7 important questions to ask when designing a good experiment:
- Does the experiment have a testable hypothesis?
- Have stakeholders made a commitment to abide by the results?
- Is the experiment doable?
- Can we ensure reliable results?
- Do we understand cause and effect?
- Have we gotten the most value out of the experiment?
- Are experiments really driving our decisions?
At Circles.Life, we go through the above questions during each experiment, resulting in a loop that looks somewhat like this:
Agility in Planning & Decision-Making
While changes are bound to happen in such a hyper growth environment, we end up failing if we fail to plan. Nothing is going to keep still while you plan and understanding this is the first step to a successful planning process. For example, when a new technology emerges (such as 5G), we have pivoted, reprioritised and changed our direction. In the spirit of agility, this is also aligned with one of our core values here in Circles.Life: Prioritise swiftly responding to change over following a plan.
To be agile in making decisions, we have learned the following behaviours are very useful:
- Listen — Actively find out what the current situation is, gather as much information as possible
- Comprehend — Have a 360-degree understanding of the problems and potential solutions (next steps), avoid assumptions on working solutions working forever
- Analyse — Critically evaluate who are the decision-makers, what is at stake and what are the measurable metrics which will lead us to our ultimate north star goal
- Decide — Act quickly and decisively
- Monitor — Understand that your decision today might not be relevant tomorrow, and it is okay
As a key aspect of growth, overcommunication is in fact an understatement. The importance of ensuring cross-departments communication cannot be highlighted enough. Here is an example. Dubbed as the 3 in a box, formally connecting Business/Marketing with Product and Engineering on a weekly basis has helped us keep the accelerated growth synchronised. With the 3 in a box meeting, we are reducing many other ad-hoc meetings that would otherwise eat up majority of people’s time and cause the messages to get lost in translation.
To summarise, in order to improve the odds of having exponential growth, our approach at Circles.Life has been to create a continuous loop of iterative experiments. The importance of being agile in planning and decision-making cannot be stressed enough, as it directly impacts the ability to handle changes. Lastly, overcommunication has to be the new normal in order for changes to be aligned across all business functions.
In other words…
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