If you want to jump on board with the agile mar­ket­ing band­wag­on, that’s great! But before you do, real­ize that your com­pa­ny cul­ture may need a sub­stan­tial over­haul before you can real­ly reap the ben­e­fits.

Before embark­ing on an agile trans­for­ma­tion, you need to be cul­tur­al­ly ready to embrace a new way of work­ing. Adapt­ing agile prac­tices at the team lev­el may lead to some process improve­ments and effi­cien­cy, but agili­ty is not just for the work­er-bees – it’s about orga­ni­za­tion­al change.

If you’re a small mar­ket­ing group with just a hand­ful of peo­ple, chances are you’re nat­u­ral­ly work­ing in a cul­ture of agili­ty – espe­cial­ly if you’re in an inno­v­a­tive or start­up envi­ron­ment. In those cas­es, jump­ing to the prac­tices of agile, like Scrum, Kan­ban or Scrum­ban are fine.

How­ev­er, if you’re a larg­er enter­prise that’s been work­ing in water­fall for years with siloed teams and top-down hier­ar­chy, cul­tur­al readi­ness is going to be key for agile mar­ket­ing to be suc­cess­ful.

I’ve seen many com­pa­nies try out agile, but the ones that are doing it well real­ize that it’s not just for the team – every­one at the com­pa­ny, whether they are on a deliv­ery team or not, needs to be ready to change the way they’ve always worked.

Build empowering teams

A lot of com­pa­nies focus their ener­gy on spin­ning up new teams as quick­ly as they can to say they’re “agile.”

Being on a team doesn’t make you an agile mar­keter. What makes it agile is being on a team where you’re empow­ered to make deci­sions, inno­vate, learn and adapt with­out out­side inter­fer­ence.

For a lot of com­pa­nies, the above sce­nario is pret­ty scary, but what’s even scari­er to me is hir­ing tal­ent­ed peo­ple and not giv­ing them any space to cre­ate or inno­vate.

To be ready to build an empow­er­ing team, the orga­ni­za­tion must trust that the peo­ple they hired are capa­ble.

Now this isn’t say­ing there are no bound­aries and that agile mar­ket­ing sets a team of peo­ple loose to do what­ev­er they want! An agile mar­ket­ing team has a shared pur­pose and roadmap that comes from stake­hold­ers, but how they approach the work is up to them.

Create generalist roles

Agile mar­ket­ing is all about get­ting the high­est pri­or­i­ty work done as a team, not resource uti­liza­tion. At the end of the day, some­one could be uti­lized 150 per­cent and get a lot of work start­ed but noth­ing done that’s usable.

When com­pa­nies stick to very strin­gent tra­di­tion­al titles, peo­ple are afraid to cross the line into anoth­er person’s ter­ri­to­ry. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, what this leads to is the above – a focus on uti­liza­tion rather than val­ue.

So to set up teams for suc­cess with agile mar­ket­ing, roles need to become more gen­er­al­ized. Sure, the graph­ic design­er will be the pri­ma­ry per­son that does that work, but maybe oth­ers on the team can pitch in and help.

In agile mar­ket­ing, we call this becom­ing a “T‑shaped” play­er, mean­ing you have a pri­ma­ry skill and two oth­er skills that you can help with when need­ed for the team to meet its’ goals.

Get rid of processes that cause delay

Orga­ni­za­tions must look at how work flows in – from idea to deliv­ery – to under­stand where bot­tle­necks hap­pen.

Every time that work sits idle wait­ing for approvals, or pass­ing the baton from one team to the next means wait­ing in the queue, is called a cost of delay and a real­ly expen­sive prob­lem!

If work takes you six months from idea to deliv­ery, but 90 per­cent of that time it’s stuck on someone’s desk or wait­ing for a per­son to be avail­able that is waste!

So to be suc­cess­ful at agile mar­ket­ing, that waste needs to be min­i­mized. A lot of that hap­pens by cut­ting out unnec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion and approvals and giv­ing the team more auton­o­my and author­i­ty.

If you’re about to embark on an agile mar­ket­ing jour­ney, that’s fan­tas­tic news! Just make sure that your com­pa­ny cul­ture will allow for empow­ered teams, gen­er­al­ist roles and is ready to re-think cur­rent process­es that cause delays.

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