Creating an Agile Marketing Culture
Last week, we had the opportunity to chat to Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, the Chief Marketing Officer at Mindjet. Jascha is an emphatic supporter and practitioner of agile marketing processes.
Overview of Agile Marketing
Jascha believes that the key to creating an agile marketing culture is creating an environment of transparency. He explained that marketing teams are constantly being asked to do more, and to do more faster.
That increase in expectations and speed can sometimes result in chaos. Jascha sees agile marketing processes as the “antitheses of chaos.”
These different types business processes will allow you to control this chaos that exists—which has really grown from the desire to do things faster. And that’s where agile steps in. Agile provides a framework that lets groups of people organize against what is actually most important for the business.
Jascha took us through the four key steps his team uses to create a culture of agile marketing experimentation:
- The Backlog
- Stand Up
- Share Day
The Backlog is effectively a shared list of everything that everybody in the organization wants to get done. As a team, you spend time to collect all the ideas that you want to execute.
The first step in developing an agile process is actually identifying all the work that you know you would like to see at some point in time. The Backlog and the processes around The Backlog are the first steps at creating order around the chaos.
You review or reinforce the strategy, the things that are most important for your business at this point in time, and then you rank The Backlog.
Sounds incredibly simple, but the uniqueness to this is that what you are truly doing is taking everybody in the organization’s priority lists, and you are putting them together in a shared list, and then you are creating a prioritization to which you are going to commit.
The next step in Jascha’s process is to organize The Backlog using Sprints:
In Mindjet’s world, every 3 weeks we meet together, we review The Backlog, we accept certain items from The Backlog that the team agrees are: (1) the highest priorities for the business; and (2) tasks that we can get completed in 3 weeks, and then we assign them out to the different teams that are going to work on them.
The teams working on the 3 week Sprints are called Scrum Teams. Each Scrum Team spends the next 3 weeks working on their assigned Sprint—which might be a particular campaign, a website, lead generation at the top of the funnel, or optimization in the middle of the funnel.
During the Sprint, the Scrum Teams meet everyday for what’s called the Stand Up, a tool that Jascha believes is instrumental in producing the transparency required to create a truly agile culture.
The Stand Up is a daily meeting (Jascha is not religious about whether his team physically stands up or not) where the Scrum Team gets together to discuss what they completed the day before, what they’re working on today, and what their roadblocks are.
When you meet every day as a team, you’re discussing what’s working, what did I complete yesterday, what am I working on right now, what’s stuck, and what do I need help with. And that, in and of itself, is a massively powerful experience.
Jascha believes the Stand Up is a particularly powerful tool for introducing and reinforcing a culture of transparency.
Everybody basically knows what’s going on. And that level of transparency is incredibly important in creating a strong culture, and a strong culture of accountability in the team.
At the end of the Sprint, Jascha’s team holds a Share Day.
The Share Day is an opportunity for all of the Scrum Teams to come together to share what they’ve completed, what worked, what didn’t, and what the next steps are.
That again is another fantastic tool for the reinforcement of transparency in the organization. I also think it’s a nice motivator for everyone on the team to have a chance every three weeks to stand up and sort of show off the things that we did.
So there you have it, four relatively simple steps that help create a culture of agile marketing experimentation.
Jascha admits that these steps don’t always work. But overall they create an environment of transparency, which he believes is fundamental for encouraging experimentation and risk taking—two key components of agile marketing.
Rather than bringing about quick wins or guaranteed success, the four steps—The Backlog, Sprints/Scrums, Stand Up, and Share Day—will help your team develop good habits that will enable long-term agile marketing success.
What processes do you use to create an agile marketing culture in your team?
Start the conversation.