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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

The hypergrowth company checklist: Learning to thrive through risk and uncertainty

Embracing rapid informed decision-making starts with empowering your people.

The hypergrowth company checklist: Learning to thrive through risk and uncertainty
[Studio Romantic/AdobeStock]

Building the roadmap for a rapidly growing company isn’t easy. From the decisions you make when you’re a one-person show to when you’re leading a team of 100, 500, or more, keeping pace with your brand’s evolution, vision, and mission is a delicate balancing act.

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At the heart of finding success in this environment, no matter what team you operate on, is rapid informed decision-making—the belief that making many decisions with a few that fail better equips your business for continuous progress, as opposed to spinning your wheels or dwelling on a decision that may or may not have the desired impact.

The concept of rapid informed decision-making has never been more relevant for today’s leaders: According to research from Treasure Data, 71% of marketing leaders feel more pressure to make the right decisions quickly, and 49% of CMOs are less confident in making decisions following the pandemic.

For today’s hypergrowth businesses, embracing rapid informed decision-making—while it may require a mindset shift—could be the key to unlocking your company’s potential. Let’s look at three ways to do it successfully.

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1. STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR BRAND THROUGH DIFFERENT PHASES OF GROWTH

This year, I’m celebrating a decade as CMO at AppLovin. Many of our priorities are different from when I started as the company’s first marketing hire, but the core of our mission has remained the same: to grow the mobile app ecosystem.

The key to feeling comfortable making decisions quickly without getting caught up in minute details has been staying grounded in this mission and our brand—asking ourselves before making a decision if it aligns with our company goals now and where we want to be in the future. At AppLovin, to keep up with our rapid growth and demand—and to continue to support mobile app developers in growing their businesses—my team and I moved quickly to establish a marketplace to create advertisements for our customers and studios. Today, this marketplace allows us to scale through internal and external resources so that we can make fast decisions and hit aggressive targets while still maintaining top quality.

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It’s also important to recognize that brand strategy and identity evolve with your company. New products and solutions are developed that appeal to different audiences, messaging shifts as priorities change, and more. This is where business and marketing leaders play a key role in ensuring the organization feels knowledgeable about and rooted in the company’s vision at every stage of growth.

2. DEVELOP STRATEGISTS AND CRITICAL THINKERS WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION

Sharing ideas—and, ultimately, making decisions about those ideas—is daunting, since people may feel that all of the pressure and risk in making a decision rests on them.

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Embracing rapid informed decision-making doesn’t mean every idea needs to be great, or that every decision will turn out positively. But I’m a big believer that how you respond to those failures as a leader cultivates a culture of trust among employees to think critically and make decisions freely—knowing that if things don’t go as planned, they won’t be reprimanded for it.

A great example of a company built on encouraging new ideas is Asana. As the former head of engineering at Facebook, Dustin Moskovitz was managing a rapidly growing team of 200 engineers when he, alongside Justin Rosenstein, had an idea to create an internal tool called “Tasks” to help keep track of projects. Eventually, the two quit their jobs at Facebook to finish what they started with Tasks, and Asana was born. Today, Asana is known for its culture of emboldening new ideas and implementing them with speed, with “Do great things, fast” as one of the company’s core values. Asana’s Product Opportunities Project even encourages employees to share ideas on how to improve the platform.

Ultimately, developing critical thinkers within your organization starts with entrusting your teams to share their ideas and make decisions and recommendations on their own, encouraging them to view any resulting setbacks as opportunities for growth.

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3. MEASURE RISK EFFECTIVELY

Every decision in business can feel like a big deal, which is why it oftentimes seems like companies—especially larger ones with multiple stakeholders—take a long time to effect change. But not all decisions are created equal, and this perspective is critical for business leaders.

When AppLovin was in discussions to acquire MoPub, it was, naturally, a very big decision. We knew merging two platforms and transferring tons of new features onto MAX—AppLovin’s monetization solution—was going to require a major lift in a short amount of time. As a result, this decision was weighed heavily, knowing the risk was greater in needing the cooperation of numerous groups across the organization, as well as understanding that countless hours of work would be needed to make things happen in a matter of months.

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Separately, in 2019, AppLovin faced an acquisition opportunity with SafeDK—a brand safety tool that we turned into a feature on MAX. Like MoPub, our acquisition of SafeDK was an important strategic move for our business that would ultimately improve our offerings and help our developers grow. However, we recognized that with SafeDK, we were on our own timeline without the pressure or impact of a resource-heavy lift, which helped us move quicker in determining it was the right move for our business.

In the end, acknowledging the differences in key business decisions—understanding some require greater weight behind them than others—takes the pressure off of treating every decision like its outcome is critical and high-risk, allowing businesses to push forward faster in their decision-making.

Embracing rapid informed decision-making starts with empowering your people. By staying true to your brand, developing critical thinkers through idea sharing, and knowing how to measure risk effectively, employees and business leaders alike can avoid dwelling on decisions for too long and feel confident in making choices faster to increase their chances of success.

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Katie Jansen is Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin

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