One of the little known but very positive side effects of the Agile / SCRUM methodology is the net upward impact it offers to organizations at the management level.
As a leader in today’s world tasked with creating and evolving your Marketing organization there are many tools at your disposal but none more powerful than using the agile strategy. However, simply applying the sprint and standup meetings to your current leadership approach isn’t enough to lead a sustainable and highly effective organization, you need to change your approach to managing your team as well.
How does this happen you ask? What do I need to do as a Marketing Leader in order to ensure that Agile Marketing is successful in my organization?
Well the answer is to G.I.V.E. a little.
Yes, Growth, Innovation, Visibility and Energy (GIVE)
By applying these four simple concepts to your Agile Marketing team you can transform an under-performing organization into an outstanding and highly efficient workforce. Here is how it works.
Marketing never stands still, constant movement and growth especially are critical to your team members. Growth comes in many forms, personal, team or project size, changes in goals and titles. The Agile environment constantly provides opportunity to grow and evolve into new roles as the organization constantly changes. Letting your team know that they have the opportunity to expand their current role through innovation, communication and participation is the best motivation possible and a way to keep everyone active and engaged on a daily basis. Let those leaders evolve, become sounding boards and drivers for daily standups, provide support, guidance and ideas for other team members as these plans evolve working freely among themselves.
At the core of any creative marketing is innovation. Stretching the boundaries of ideas, providing opportunity and freedom to evolve thoughts, show strengths and provide meaningful output is a potent combination on any team and a solid individual motivator. As a marketing leader you do not always have time to review and approve your teams innovative concepts on a daily or weekly basis and, as a result, they may feel they should not pursue them actively. In order to keep your team developing quality content without constant supervision you need to let them innovate. This is where agile sprints come in. Open up the playing field, give the Scrum team leaders direct management of their resources, allowing them time to carve off people to work on things they really believe in, without penalty. Of course you need to manage them in some way, that is were the Visibility portion comes into play.
Looking for a way to create transparency and visibility into what your teams are developing. Easy, give them the freedom of each two-week sprint to progress their ideas, create the concepts and deploy in a small test case. Then at the end of each sprint have a public demonstration to share these ideas with both leadership and other stakeholders. The risk? Missing on important priorities or getting off the rails and loosing two weeks of work. The reward however considerably outweighs the disadvantages; you get in return a dedicated and energized team producing some of the most creative output and positive results. How, you ask, because you have shown them the opportunity to grow and innovate, and also given them the responsibility to manage their own output, there is nothing more enabling.
Have you ever been in the depths of a six-month project that seems to be dragging on because there is always ‘next week’ to have another meeting, get the team together or make those difficult decisions? One of the most problematic things to do in leadership is to hold together a highly efficient and well working team for a long period of time. How do you keep that energy level up when the goals are so far away?
Answer: Move the goalpost. The two-week sprint cycle does just that, creates an energized and even a little competitive environment where each of the different teams are encouraged to have considerable output for each sprint demonstration or have the fear of another team coming up with something truly incredible and having the best public ‘Demo Day’ for stakeholders. This healthy competition combined with a short sprint cycle is both an effective leadership tool and has proven to be a sustainable model for all types of business but especially marketing. As a leader you need to feed the energy of the Demo Day making sure your have executive participation and support, distribution through video and recordings so all time zones can be represented. Bring the sizzle to what your teams are developing and everyone in marketing will attend.
Ready to G.I.V.E.?
True leaders find innovative ways to ‘give’ their teams the tools and environment they need to succeed. The combination of Agile Marketing, solid leadership and a GIVE-ing approach creates just that environment where teams can Grow, Innovate, have Visibility into their work and feel the Energy and enthusiasm to function at a highly sustainable level for months at a time.
If you are looking for a way to create a highly efficient and scalable approach to developing a new marketing organization, consider leading your team by G.I.V.E.-ing them the opportunity to succeed.
Steve Gilbert is a Digital and Agile Marketing addict who enjoys sailing and coaching hockey in his ‘spare time’. For more insight into these and other topics you can follow Steve @stevegilbert4 or on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-gilbert
This Post Has 3 Comments
Truly a great post with valuable content presented in a unique way: G.I.V.E. Your readers will remember it and comeback to it as well.
I do want to make a comment about the top down nature that your post describes. Agile Managers have to be Servant Leaders to the Agile Teams. They need to remove organizational pieties, impediments and structures that prevent Teams from continuously improving. Let the Teams decide on their direction and let them fail. Scrum is self-organization and Agile Managers need to stay out the way. Too often their predilections are oh so well know by the Team and catered to as well.
A good Agile Scrum Master and empowered Product Owner will enable the Team to innovate by letting them dig into the problem and avoid what I will term “leader confirmation bias.” Often flawed strategies developed too far by Senior Leaders in firms are carried out by Teams when everyone knows they are less than optimal.
I am by no way advocating Agile Managers give up control to the Teams but I am saying to get the most out of every individual member of the ScrumTeam self organization has to be implemented and Teams need to have the room to be Test Driven and not afraid to fail forward. Scrum is a practice that breaks down barriers between silos and turns specialists into generalists in the Marketing Department.
Scrum in Marketing is, and ought to be, disruptive and Agile Managers need to support and enable disruption, likely something they are inexperienced in practicing and uncomfortable with as well. This is what Scrum adoption will produce first: professionals out of their comfort zone. The Agile Scrum Master has to carefully manage this phase and the Agile Managers have to let it happen.
The Agile Teams will eventually improve and need to move past Scrum to the the value based approach of Extreme Programming [XP] or Continuous Improvement through Lean and/or Kanban. XP is values based: Simplicity; Communication; Respect; Feedback; and Courage. Perhaps that can be a future post in mapping these agile approaches to marketing.
Again, what a great piece and I really value your passion for the subject.
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