1. To get off on the right foot, emphasize the cultural shift.
Agile isn't just about following a process. It also requires a mindset that supports a new culture around agile values. That’s where many organizations fail. Agile’s principles are human-centric; everyone must be on board and available for it to work. It can quite literally take a village to orchestrate a successful marketing campaign. To be successful, you must find, assemble and nurture a team that is committed to agile’s iterative practices and can handle the pace of change and exposure to risk, failure and the unknown.
The trick here is to consider how an agile shift impacts every personality on the team. Some may fare far better than others, so when building your marketing team, look outside of the usual suspects to identify budding talent or the best fit. For example, “Frank” was great at planning and executing on eighteen-month launch cycles, where he could assemble detailed plans and reflect on each element of the launch. In the end, though, his work style didn’t complement the multitasking and quick decision making required for a three-week sprints. In my experience, people with an agency background have an advantage over those who have only worked in house, because of the pace of change at agencies.
2. Use a platform to get everyone on the same page.
Not surprisingly, marketers gravitate toward communication and collaboration over process and tools, but there is a happy medium. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that today’s technologically advanced processes and tools are the foundation for growth. They facilitate team, department and organizational collaboration, and are crucial for keeping marketing efforts tethered to overall business goals, especially in light of today’s increasingly dispersed teams.
Collaboration tools, such as websites, intranets, social networks, and document repositories that allow teams to pool their efforts, are important because they integrate the team’s efforts around their marketing activities. They provide structure so that creatives can take a more methodical, focused look at strategies and tactics, and they ensure that the entire team is aligned and putting its effort behind the most business-relevant goals. As a result, every team member is on the same page, regardless of role, location, or project stage.
Ideally, the platform should encourage team members to introduce ad hoc tasks and then operationalize them over time. Specifically, the ability to record tasks, ideas, and other pertinent information in a centralized location is key. This shared space, like the Mindjet map below that we use for tracking our own sprints, ensures that all the information is transparent and up to date, so that the team can move forward and deliver the most value.
Figure 1. Here’s an example of agile marketing sprints laid out in an intuitive information map so members can track and execute on the entire project.
3. Improve through transparency.
Speaking of transparency, there’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” As applied to agile practices, following this proverb will help you become more transparent, and this transparency allows you to iterate for better effectiveness and team involvement. Both are big benefits that also amp up your department’s morale. As we all know that good communication reinforces desired behaviors, leading to a team’s success.