Agile Methodology in the MarTech World

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Agile Methodology in the MarTech World

Our M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework requires agility. When we talk about agility in this sense we are referring to a methodology and not just the ability to move quickly. The agility of our marketing efforts and supporting cast will help on our metamorphosis to the marketing technologist role. Just as we offered some practical applications of advancing marketing competencies, we offer a few practical applications of advancing agile methodologies in the marketing world.

How do we advance our agile competencies? We are highlighting a few things here, to include; understanding the foundation, being inquisitive, seeking leadership endorsement, changing the physical world, experimenting and maintaining discipline in a labelless landscape.

Understand the Foundation

History, values, principles, practices, and manifestos! And since ‘manifesto’ is such a fun word to say, why not create multiple manifestos to communicate the values and principles to the various audiences that can benefit from the agile methodology.

Understanding the foundation of the agile methodology is the first step in advancing your agile competency.

To help advance my own understanding, I reviewed these fantastic sources and assembled the following chart to compare the original agile manifesto, supplement to the original agile manifesto, the value statements from the agile marketing manifesto, and the principles of the agile marketing manifesto. Perhaps they were established in that order, however, they are placed in the comparison table below using the agile manifesto supplement as the most generic and the original agile manifesto principles as more specific, with the marketing manifesto values and principles trapped in the middle.

The principles are mostly the same, with the exception of the marketing manifesto lacking face-to-face conversations, self-organizing teams and that working software, or marketing ‘working marketing’ in this case, is the primary measure of progress. In a values statement comparison, I interpret the supplement published by the Agile Alliance as values to compare with the marketing manifesto values to reveal many similarities and one glaring absence; individuals and interactions over processes and tools did not have a counterpart value in the marketing manifesto.

I don’t think the aggregators of the agile marketing manifesto did that purposely. I do think creating all kinds of new manifestos, while fun to say, is disconnecting from the mothership and that leaves all kinds of voids in the future. Much like developing custom software for a few customers while you are trying to grow the universal environment, it may feel good right away, but it is horribly unsustainable.

Marketers can adopt the lessons of the Agile Alliance without forking into an unsupported and unsustainable world. Marketing may have adopted the agile terminology because they fit the ‘move quickly’ definition and/or to give the perception of technical savviness, but now agile marketing needs to figure out how to leverage the existing agile nation to sustain for the long-term.

Being Inquisitive: Observe, Read, Share, Discuss

Being inquisitive about the agile methodology is the next step in advancing your agile competency. There is great knowledge in understanding the foundation initially, then advancing to observe how agile teams work, reading more about how marketers use agile, sharing these with a few curious counterparts in your office, and discussing what your process might look like in agile mode.

You don’t necessarily need to observe and read about agile marketing teams, just observe and read about agile methodologies in general.

I have the privilege of seeing agile in action from Widen software teams as they progress on products like Smartimage and adopt agile for Widen Collective to help customers manage and share terabytes of marketing content.

Just seeing these teams perform sprint functions, release planning, stand-up meetings, engaging customers, and delivering simple software with high customer value is inspiring. To the point where I am transforming our executive process into agile. Slowly but surely the agile CEO will be more about methodology than moving quickly. SCRUM Training next week! Ooh-Rah.

Seeking Leadership Endorsement

Seems like this step is applicable for everything that needs to get done. How do you get leaders on board? Educate and inform them about the process. Draw it out and provide a visual of how the process might work. As Mark Verone, the Director of Marketing & Product Operations at Gogo, shared in his interview with Chiefmartec.com, “You actually earn more trust and respect from the organization when everyone can see how it all works.”

Ask your marketing leadership to present the concept at the next executive meeting to start the discussion. Use supportive data citing other leading organizations using agile, e.g. Applying Agile Methodology to Marketing Can Pay Dividends Survey. In that article, Forbes CMO Network editor, Jennifer Rooney, interviewed Barre Hardy, the senior director of CMB Partner, who summarizes the impact succinctly highlighting business performance, employee satisfaction, and adaptability. Or even more simply said, “the CMOs who figure Agile out first and best will outperform in their markets.”

Changing the Physical World

Changing the physical surroundings is a significant contributor to the transparency and overall culture that needs to support the success of agile methodologies. The open environment with no walls and regular knowledge sharing contributes to the successful implementation of agile. We have experienced these benefits first-hand, as featured in previous Fast Company articles, such as no walls and more knowledge sharing. The “C” in MarTech cultural competency is going to be big when we get to it!

Experimentation

How about attempting an agile approach for a new project? Not your normal, flexible, nimble, and swift way of summarizing your work performance, but a more disciplined agile process adopting some of the various agile types that might work best for your organization.

The results of your inquisitive step are in-play here, but don’t feel obligated to stick to a certain agile methodology path. You may find that a little bit of each works best. That is what I found when I chatted with our product management team at Widen.

Maintaining Discipline in a Labelless Landscape

One of our product managers, Libby Maurer, shared some great insights about practical agile when we chatted about our process and ongoing training. We generally follow the SCRUM methodology and Libby was quick to point out that we are adopting pieces from a variety of agile approaches. From a practitioner's perspective, we wanted to stay down one, clean path of a specific agile methodology, however, it just did not make sense for us. And it may not make sense for you either, but you need to be disciplined.

Our level of discipline allows us to select from multiple agile methods to form our own. As I attempted to identify the various agile approaches and differences, Libby shared that our execution and outcome are more important than the pursuit of labels; we are working in a labelless landscape. However, as one experienced agile developer pointed out, we’re running a WAGILE process, which is just Widen agile.

Topics: Marketing, MarTech

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