Growing Up Fast: How New Agile Practices Can Move Marketing And Innovation Past The Old Business Stalemates


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Growing Up Fast is about how to implement an agile process in modern business to create the necessary collaboration between marketing and innovation for business success. It surveys business management over the last 100 years and shows how we’ve come to the “Agile Age,” which is not about big ideas Mad Men-style, but lots of little ideas to test and try. It then discusses the mindsets and tools required for success in agile work. The introduction and conclusion set up the metaphor of the book’s title, to personify the current impasse between big regulation government and total free market capitalism. Agile is posed as a third option between the Mom and Dad’s battle between over-planning and wild speculation, concern for the future and obsession with “what worked” in the past—as both occupy our resources without agile process or priorities for the innovations we need going forward in society. Agile is portrayed as an inquisitive, experimental, brilliant child who still lives above the garage at her parents’ house—and it’s time for her to move out.

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  • Your CEO has three priorities committed to the board.
    First, Innovate, for competitive differentiation. And how does he do this? He hires a head of product and that head of product comes up with the next billion dollar idea. Simple right?
    Second, Manage the business to a specific financial objective. A burn rate, ebita neutral, profitability? And how does he do this? He hires a CFO and together then ‘micromanage the details.’ They enact a playbook used over and over again across businesses in all categories.
    And last, your CEO is asked to grow topline revenue. And this, this priority, is his specialty. You see, your CEO grew up in sales. He understands hierarchy. He knows command and control. Top down driven goals. Relentless pursuit of the right way to do something.
    But there is a problem. It’s not working anymore. Not how it used to. From Amazon to Uber ‘the way it should be done’ is being replaced by innovative companies that are experimenting their way to new products and disrupting decade old businesses.
    How are they doing it?
    Before we go there. Let me share with you a story.
  • Mom and Dad are fighting again.
    That’s what happening in the world,
    Especially the world of business.
    Dad with his bottom line schemes.
    His stories with the ‘boys’ down at the club.
    His belief that nothing would happen without his individual ego.
    Mom with her systems to forecast what’s next.
    Her belief in an ideal future mixed with fairness and equality.
    Dad reminiscences of his past victories and past performance.
    Mom preaching that nothing happens without a good plan.
    They both want control. They just want control in different ways.
    Over the next 25 minutes I’m going to share with you the story of their overgrown brilliant kid. That kid whom is both halves and neither of them. Living above the garage. Waiting to get her life going.
    For our famlies and colleagues and for ourselves … it’s time to move out of the house.
    “It’s all risk and reward in the free market. Only the strong survive.”
    There you go again, Dad.
    “Why don’t you write down your goals. Things will works out. Just get started. One step at a time.”
    There you go again mom.
  • The waterfall development model originates in the manufacturing and construction industries; highly structured physical environments in which after-the-fact changes are prohibitively costly, if not impossible.
    Since no formal software development methodologies existed at the time, this hardware-oriented model was simply adapted for software development.[1]
    The first known presentation describing use of similar phases in software engineering was held by Herbert D. Benington at Symposium on advanced programming methods for digital computers on 29 June 1956.
  • What’s wrong with Waterfall?
    However there has been an untended consequence of using waterfall in in software. The connection to the customer is often times replaced by the marketing team. The marketing team whom ‘should’ always know what the customer wants…
    The problem is that emotion and organizational inertia get in the way.
    The result? Take the customer out of the equation and build products for the marketing team. The ‘final’ product was more often than not the ‘gold disk’ delivered to marketing.
  • That all changed though. At least it’s starting to in earnest.
    As the ‘cloud’ became a viable method for delivering software something profound changed. The customer’s were given access to the products immediately and feedback was no longer routed via qualitative feedback from the marketing team.
    Product teams could ‘see’ their customers feedback with the clicks and their click stream.
  • They knew what features were being used. They saw what their customer’s engagement was. And this was a profound change.
    And the changed something else.
  • The waterfall process stopped working. At least it stopped working well.
    With feedback almost instantaneous the business processes engineering used need to change.
    You couldn’t duck away for a year or more and expect your customers would be ok with that. With faster access to products and data everyone’s expectations changed.
    And new expectations needed new processes.
  • Along comes agile. The term Agile Development and successively, the Agile Development Manifesto Was Developed. introduced the term in 2001.
    Since then, the Agile Movement, with all its values, principles, methods, practices, tools, champions and practitioners, philosophies and cultures, has significantly changed the landscape of the modern software engineering and commercial software development in the Internet era.
  • Good for engineering. Right?
    Found a problem/opportunity and solved it with process adaptation. This happens in the early oughts' and what does marketing do? Finance? Anyone?
    We continue plodding forward using the same tried and truce techniques we always have. And maybe we’ve never called them ‘waterfall’ but that is absolutely what they are.
    There was no concurrent technological shift that necessitated any other department to do anything different.
    In marketing, we happily plodded along coming up with the ‘right’ messaging delivered to the ‘right’ channel.
    That’s right. The channel.
    Much like product teams had marketing as their customer marketing has had (and still does) it’s channels as the end customer. Tv, Radio, Print. The form and the channel were more important than the end customer…
  • And now, over the past handful of years. Marketing has had it’s ‘cloud’ moment.
    With the rise in popularity of blogging, and then social networks and especially facebook and twitter. Marketing’s interactions with the customer have changed dramatically.
  • So…our processes aren’t working the same way anymore.
    Real-time marketing. Community engagement. Content Marketing.
    All systems and processes that take the front seat now.
    All systems and processes that are inherently agile.
  • Much like engineering and the cloud … we’ve had our system breaking moment … it was just ushered on my jack dorsey and mark zuckerberg as opposed to a giant building of servers.
  • Is it? Wouldn’t that mean we’d need some sort of a manifesto?
  • In 2012 a group of marketers descended upon san francisco and drafted up our own manifesto.
    It in it’s early days with processes borrowing heavily from engineering but there is a reason that it’s topic of discussion.
    This manifesto and this idea is starting to catch on.
    To go out on a limb I’d say that in the next decade we’ll see a total transformation of business process in marketing adopting agile. It will be the dominant method for getting work done and communicating best with your customers.
  • So, if that is the context for massive change in product and marketing what about the rest of thebusine landscape?
  • General Electric, Sears Roebuck, Western Union.
    What did they all have in common?
    They came after the heels of the ‘robber-baron’ period in American Capitalism. They were founded on the belief that managements rise to power was the answer to the great depression and inept government. The focus of the businesses were to productionize the dreams of scientific exactitude.
    And they had a hell of a run. Almost half a century!
  • And then there was World War II and post World War II which brought about the Social Era marked by overall confidence, pubic support and general good feelings about the potential for businesses to improve life. Companies like Kodak, General Foods, Goodyear made there hay during this era and quite possibly, from ‘our’ perspective as marketers one of the most important deposits into the business world was the coming of age of Peter Drucker … the grandfather of modern business with his view that there are only two functions in a business Marketing & Innovation.
  • Which brings us up to today. Starting in the 80s with the moral ambitions of the social era in steady decline we see mass deregulation from transportation to telecommunications and finance. The rise of the MBA and the clearest goal since the efficiency era which is to line the pockets of the shareholder and reward the managers whom play by those rules…
    But there is a problem.
    You sense it right?
    A lack of a Yang to the Yin of efficiency.
    We feel it too…
  • I would propose that we are seeing an auspiscous end to the shareholder value era.
    The somewhat robotic efficiency measure being upended, or at least counterbalanced, by a focus on leadership and innovation.
    We’ve had a chance to watch and learn from Mom and Dad. It’s time to move out and go it on our own.
  • So, how do we do it?
    6 critical tools that when applied to your business can help you find you and your team’s equilibrium and bring you bounding into the agile era…not kicking and screaming.
  • In 2004 a researcher in the University of Waterloo gave children a book with no words. It was called Frog Goes To Dinner.
    The children were asked to tell the story they saw in the pictures.
    The frog went into a restaurant. Sat at a table. Picked up a fork and ordered it’s dinner.
    That was the story.
    This researcher asked the same kids to tell the story from a different perspective and while some kids struggled. Some told the story as the waiter and some even told the story as the fork. Needless to say these kids were the best storytellers in the group.
    Why is this significant? These same kids. The storytellers. They turned out to test as the best mathematicians. Not writers. Not Spellers. Mathematicians.
    When it comes down to it being a great communicator necessitates the ability to tell a good story and as the cloud ushered in easy to access data the ability to abstract it and explain it’s significance is more important than ever.
  • The authors of the Book rework have a philosophy about hiring.
    When two candidates are ‘equal’ hire the one that is a better writer.
    Words help us vet ideas, gain consensus and it’s not a stretch that the entire agile system is based literary concepts.
    Epics, Stories, etc.
    The construction of a plot and the exposure of it’s characters are a fundamental requirement in a successful agile process. While we may understand how to write ‘pretty well’ immersing yourself and your team in literary fundamentals will help you navigate the current agile era better.
  • And I want to share with you a little secret. Mom and Dad will never meet you on your turf. They operate from a different place. They want plans and process and they will fight with you over the details. I’ve always thought it was funny how the serious always prefer their own brand of fiction.
    The interplay between data and creativity is one of the most interesting aspect of the agile process.
    Luckily, for us, we already understand that Math and Storytelling are the same thing. The key tool in combining math and storytelling? It’s hypothesis testing. And luckily, for me at least you don’t need a lot of math. Don’t get into calculation exercises and debates. Learn how to develop a hypothesis told though a great story and do just enough to run a test and a decision.
    It’s that simple.
  • Developers in agile work, sometimes in pairs. Constantly realigning on feedback from each other.
    The agile process is constructed of standups, daily meetings.
    Sprints, the accumulation of multiple standups.
    And a series of other complementary tools.
    There is a commonality. Feedback. And generally, positive feedback at that.
    Pull yourself out of the scrum team? Feedback seems to be a bit of a lost art.
  • In many businesses there is huge disconnect between the stated strategy and what is being worked on.
    The fundamental challenge is that there has been a historical lack of connection between the CEO and Board’s 30,000 foot view of the direction of the company and how that relates to the work being done. It’s not that those two are at odd with each other. It’s that without great visibility into what is being worked on there is a tendency to assume nothing is getting worked on.
    And then the HIPPO steps in.
    I would be surprised if anyone in this room can say they have not been in a meeting where your boss has said ‘here is my idea, I’d like you to go work on it.’ that hippo syndrome is all to prevalent in Mom and Dad’s world. And that is where you backlog comes in.
    The backlog is simple but powerful tool managed by the scrum team’s in the agile process. It exposes everything.
    What’s being worked on.
    What is finished.
    And what is up next.
    This total transparency is one of the most empowering aspects of agile.
    You want your idea to go to the front of the queue? Let’s discuss all the stories priorities currently and judge the impact to the business together. That’s a much more palatable discussion to have with your HIPPO.
  • Culture doesn’t come from your ‘about us’ page on the website.
    It comes from the muscle memory created by the interaction of your teams.
    As a leader in an agile organization it is literally impossible to disconnect yourself from the daily process. You ARE a part of the team, not just the figurehead. Agile, as a system, is a DO ing system.
    It is, fundamentally, more than just words.
  • With these new tools in your agile toolkit, you might ask ‘how can I get started?’
    Introducing these techniques and working with these tools IS change management. And change management takes time, and focus, and empathy.
  • If some of what I’ve said today resonates with you I’d encourage you to take a peek at a book that my co-writer and I just published, 8/17/2014.
    Growing Up Fast.
    Just search for the title or my name on amazon.
  • Growing Up Fast: How New Agile Practices Can Move Marketing And Innovation Past The Old Business Stalemates

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    9. 9. Agile Development Manifesto . Satisfy the customer with early and continuous delivery. . Deliver working software frequently and on short cycle times. . Build around motivated individuals and trust, if given the environment and support they need, they will get the job done. . Allow the best architectures. requirements and designs to emerge from self-organizing teams. . At regular intervals, reflect on how to become more effective and adjust behavior accordingly. BitTorrent . Agile processes promote a constant and sustainable pace of development. . Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. . Businesspeople and developers must work together daily. Working software IS the primary measure of progress. . The most efficient and effective information exchange is face-to-face. . Simplicity is essential. It's the art of maximizing the work yet to be done. a Kaykas
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    15. 15. Agile Marketing Manifesto 1. Validated learning over opinions and conventions 2. Customer focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy 3. Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns 4. The process of customer discovery over static prediction 5. Flexible vs. rigid planning 6. Responding to change over following a plan 7. Many small experiments over a few large bets BitTorrent‘ lz_zVKaykas
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    27. 27. The Backlog is Your Priority BitTorrent a Kaykas
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