Making agile work for marketing


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Making agile work for marketing

  1. 1. MINDJET PERSPECTIVESMaking Agile WorkFor Marketing
  2. 2. 2MINDJET PERSPECTIVESIn a world that’s moving at a faster pace than ever, businesses everywhere are attempting to keepup by adjusting their processes in most every department. As a result, getting work done today isless about long term project planning and more about short bursts of hyper-focused productivity.Think of it like running a mile on a treadmill vs. running a mile on a treadmill in intervals ofvarying intensity. The calorie loss might be the same in the end, but periodically raising theresistance will also make you stronger.When it comes to marketing departments, the new framework for work is looser. Freer. It’s morealert. It’s Agile.In this collection of articles, the first in a series of Mindjet perspectives, we present our thoughtson the Agile movement as well as tips for effectively adopting it into your own organization:1. What is Agile Marketing?A breakdown of the most basic Agile elements, including scrums, sprints and burndown charts.2. Agile Begins with CultureWe can define the facets of Agile all day, but without the right culture, it won’t do us any good.3. Four Common MistakesHiccups are going to happen — that’s part of what Agile is all about, learning from our mistakes— but at least you don’t have to get tripped up by the most common offenders.Every organization has a different set of needs, of course, but I hope you’ll use the following asa springboard to building your own narratives of success. Try different things, use what worksfor you and throw out the rest. At the end of the day, that’s what Agile is all about: quick testing,iterations, learning and improvement.Jascha Kaykas-WolffChief Marketing Officer, MindjetJASCHAKAYKAS-WOLFFIntro
  3. 3. 3MINDJET PERSPECTIVESAgile marketing means taking small steps and not being afraid to fail. It also means never failingthe same way twice. Very practically, it’s about putting a fixed timeframe around a specific set ofwork goals and keep an orderly cadence to new work being produced by your team.To be Agile means testing ideas and using data to follow up on what’s working and stop doingwhat’s not working to improve the profit of your business. Sounds like what marketing wassupposed to be in the first place, doesn’t it?Software of the FittestAgile marketing springs from the world of software development, where the emphasis falls, as fastas possible, on the customer and feature functionality, with the ability to change direction whennew opportunities present themselves, or when the wind changes.Throughout the last decade, software development firms realized that old, hierarchical/waterfallproduct cycles did not work in the new digital world. There wasn’t enough time or money to haveeverything charted out and solidly planned to hand off for testing, branding and legal approval. Itall took too much time and too much money, ultimately creating a relevancy gap with customers.Software companies fell by the dozens to abandoned funding, changing platforms, and the chronicthreat of obsolescence.But Agile survived. Agile companies used short release cycles, constant review, small teams,and remained able to follow the opportunity wherever it led them.What is Agile Marketing?
  4. 4. 4MINDJET PERSPECTIVESWhat follows, in the parlance of software development, are the main elements of an Agilework environment.ScrumsThese daily fifteen-minute meetings not only encourage camaraderie and communication, but alsouncover potential problems before they get off track. Whether you call it a scrum or not isn’t whatis important. It’s the physical act of meeting and communicating with each other on a daily basisthat is key.Pretend you are painting. You need to study the subject, back and forth with small marks in thebeginning, to make sure proportions are correct. The work is on the canvas; meeting in the scrumis like stepping back to take a look at the overall subject, again and again.Agile software teams typically meet every day and keep an explicit agenda. They answer threebasic questions:1. What have you done?2. What are you doing?3. What roadblocks do you have?That may or may not work for your marketing team but the idea behind it is gold. Learning howoften to meet and the set agenda will be the most important thing scrums teach you — becauseyou’ll know when it’s too often by the groans.Key: Make every minute of the scrum matter.SprintsThe sprint is an execution session where the team breaks a large project into smaller chunks sothat smaller groups can deliver and get feedback earlier and more often.Bring someone to represent sales and engineering and finance to the sprint. Bring in anyone whois an immediate stakeholder and reviewer. Decide on the user stories together. Marketing is morehorizontal than development within an organization and it’s important to include all the relevantstakeholders upfront.In his 2012 article “The Best-Kept Management Secret on The Planet: Agile” SteveDenning dates this sort of “pull” approach to the kanban and lean manufacturing systems thatsoftware development teams adopted from manufacturing to replace traditional, high-inventory,high-sunk-costs methods.What is AgileMarketing?In retrospect, it’s not hard to see why [more Agile methods] solvedthe problem. In the 1990s, huge sums of money were being lostbecause the work of software development was always late, overbudget, and plagued by quality problems.
  5. 5. 5MINDJET PERSPECTIVESWhat is AgileMarketing?Clients were upset, and firms lost money. The developers were seenas culprits and were punished. They worked harder and harder.They labored evenings and weekends. They got divorced. It made nodifference. The software was still late, over budget, and full of bugs.They were fired, but their replacements did no better.The standard prescriptions of management didn’t work with softwaredevelopment. Something different had to be found.Key: Agile Marketing creates an interdependent network “pulling” together, not an assemblyline “pushing” through.User StoriesCreating good software requires you know how your customers are using it, and the same appliesto all goods and services. Getting those kinds of inside stories from customers requires you have acandid and open feedback loop. What has social media done for companies if not provide just that?Jim Ewel of advises you to document user stories in one of two ways:1. The need for new functionality2. The roles and stages in the buying processThese stories aren’t case studies. Instead, they are stories for you to invent and use insideyour business to help understand — even dramatize — ­what’s going on in the market and whoyour customers are. And, like all inventions, stories evolve as you collect more information andmore data.With Agile marketing, you don’t have to have a magic bullet and hit the target against impossibleodds. When your teams respond quickly to change, you can throw out the big bets and the bigblame about who was right or wrong. Save the drama for the stories.Key: Take little shots, all the way, constantly tuning and honing in.
  6. 6. 6MINDJET PERSPECTIVESWhat is AgileMarketing?Burndown ChartsBurndown charts show progress as hours or percent completion of all the tasks your team isworking on. Updated before every scrum meeting, these visualizations help everyone see what’sgoing on, as the fuse burns closer and closer to the BOOM of completion!Chart it on a whiteboard. Use some green and red magnets. Experiment with different Sharpies.Or use a platform like Mindjet.Key: A picture answers, “What do we need to work on today?” without the need for words.Scrum, Sprint, Stories, ChartsThe critical success factor is to develop a taste and trust for the Agile process.Work, refresh. Work, refresh.Let go now of the notion that a person can go off by himself and comes back with a big idea.That’s a myth of a bygone era. Besides, you can’t plan for it any more than you can plan forwinning the lottery. Daily investment makes much more sense.Key: It doesn’t matter what you call all this stuff. Just start doing it.
  7. 7. 7MINDJET PERSPECTIVESIn today’s volatile work environments uncertainty tends to be our only certainty and change ouronly constant. Coalition building and the ability to connect become even more crucial under suchcircumstances, providing teams with a distinct edge when buttressed by community.Can We Predict the Unpredictable?Of course we can’t–we’re not mind readers. But what we can be is better prepared. Mostorganizations understand the need for agility in the likely event of a shake-up, but what they tendto overlook is the starting point, a.k.a. the structural support system, a.k.a. the people. There’s noprocess that can save you from having to rebuild; it’s up to the people in your organization to alignand move forward. So give them their best chance at doing that without too many hiccups. AdrianCho of IBM puts it like this:The top is a great place to start. If management makes the first move, then employees are lesslikely to experience anxiety, or an unraveling of their confidence in the company’s direction. Soheads-up, all you leaders! Be forthright and direct with your employees, and communicate withthem frequently–especially in the face of change.Technology is just as important. Information is the currency of the digital age, and just like cashmoney, we all need a constant flow of it to survive. So check out internal tools that meet yourcommunication needs andallow employees to temper information consumption, not drown in it.Agile Begins with Culture
  8. 8. 8MINDJET PERSPECTIVESDon’t Be AfraidStefan Kohn, head of innovation management at Fuji lm Europe, believes that the reason mostpeople have a problem with hopping on the agility train is the fear of change itself. “Companiessometimes choose to neglect change. Those that are truly Agile embrace it, even when it riskscannibalizing an existing product,” he says.Agility is risky business by nature, but without it we’d be static. So inject your company’s guts withagility. It’ll make achieving it on the outside way less frightening.Agile Beginswith CultureOrganizational agility is difficult, especially for large organizations,but it begins with Agile individuals and teams. Put together teamsof talented people who can react promptly to change and improvisesolutions, and you’ll enable an Agile organization that can respondreadily to challenges.
  9. 9. 9MINDJET PERSPECTIVESAgile marketing is still a new concept for a lot of teams, making hiccups easy to come by. Butdon’t let yourself get bogged down by the usual--here are four easily identifiable Agile marketingmistakes to be on the lookout for.1. Assuming you can always do more with lessOne of the largest draws of Agile marketing is how much more productive small teams canbe than traditional marketing teams. But beware, this doesn’t mean cutting back too far. Onecommon mistake on the upper management end is the assumption that Agile marketing allowsfor understaffed or under-resourced teams to produce more. Agile marketing isn’t pulling a rabbitout of a hat; don’t expect an increase in efficiency and speed to double what you’re doing now —particularly if your organization is already small.2. Lacking an executive sponsorPeople are creatures of habit, making pushing them out of their routine particularly challenging —and without an executive sponsor to back the whole operation, nearly impossible.An executive sponsor brings the authority required to manage differences in disciplines andwork styles, as well as navigate resourcing issues. Additionally, having some buy-in at the topnever hurts, especially when it comes to making sure change is actually enacted and not justpaid lip service.Four Common Agile Marketing Mistakes
  10. 10. 10MINDJET PERSPECTIVES3. Unintentionally ignoring all other marketing activitiesWhen switching to Agile marketing, it’s important to not get too myopic and forget other activities.For example, you still have important core marketing functions that need to be performed, such asweb development and database maintenance.Much of Agile is, of course, straying from the beaten path, but getting completely lost is neverideal. Creating visuals for how to transfer old responsibilities into a new format will help preventtasks from getting lost in translation.4. Forgetting to celebrate successAs a system that stresses working in very intense, short cycles, the hyper-focus of Agile marketingmakes it easy to forget to set aside time to celebrate successes.Managers should make a conscious effort to avoid quickly moving from one project to the nextwithout taking time to reflect on and celebrate a job well done. Promoting the results of yoursprints to the rest of the company and providing recognition for team members will solidify theorganization’s overarching faith in Agile as well as maintain morale.Four CommonAgileMarketingMistakes
  11. 11. 11MINDJET PERSPECTIVESOnce you’ve got the right people and processes down,it’s time to turn to technology for that final boost.There are plenty of options out there, but Mindjet’ssoftware promotes a different approach togetting things done by injecting ideation and taskmanagement with a visual component. In providinga holistic view of projects and making the sum ofits parts easier to digest, we believe our platformcomplements the speed in which Agile processestypically run.To find out more about how Mindjet can help you movequickly from ideas to action, check us out here. Tolearn more about the Agile movement, head on over to know more?
  13. 13. Work Inspired © 2012-2013. Mindjet Inc. All rights reserved.Mindjet, the Mindjet logo, MindManager, Mindjet Connect are trademarks of Mindjet, registered in the U.S. and other countries.Work Inspired