The Martech Show

Reflections on agile marketing by leading practitioners and analysts

Reasons for Adopting Agile Marketing (2020)

The following is a guest post curated by Andrea Fryrear of AgileSherpas, sharing reflections from leading agile marketing practitioners and analysts on the findings from her latest State of Agile Marketing report.

As we learned in the 3rd Annual State of Agile Marketing Report, there are lots of different manifestations of marketing agility. Most marketers use a hybrid framework, and we employ tons of different practices within those frameworks.

To tap into this vast array of experiences with agile in marketing, we reached out to a whole slew of agile thought leaders and practitioners to get their take on the results from this year’s report.

Here’s what they had to say…

Job Satisfaction is a Big Deal

Evan Leybourn, Founder and CEO, Business Agility Institute:

“It is not controversial to say that we spend most of our waking time working (whether in the office, train, or at home). In fact, most of us spend more time working than we do with our family. Whether this is good or not is beside the point. This is a simple fact of the modern economy. Therefore, it follows that work should be one of the most rewarding times in our lives, no matter your role. What excites me about the findings in this report is that 74% of agile marketers declare job satisfaction, compared with just 58% of traditional marketers and 34% of ad hoc marketers.”

74% of agile marketers declare job satisfaction, compared with just 58% of traditional marketers.

Jeff Clark, Principal Analyst, Marketing Operations Strategies, Forrester SiriusDecisions:

“One reason that 74% of agile marketers are satisfied with their work is that they are taking time to review results and quickly course correct to deliver a better product. That discipline leads to both better results and greater on-the-job satisfaction.”

Lucas Kirschman, Senior Manager, Agile Program Office, TD Ameritrade:

“Every team we have stood up has shouted to the rooftops about how great working on an agile team has been. Two such verbatims: ‘I never want to go back to the way I was working before!’ and ‘It’s amazing to be so involved with the strategy and decision-making from the start.'”

Don’t Worry if Progress Seems Slow

Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group:

“Two thirds of agile marketing teams have been practicing for at least 3 years, but most of them say they’re ‘still maturing.'”

“Agile approaches, terminology, processes, and outcomes have become mainstream in marketing. And while many marketers are frustrated with the slow adoption of agile marketing, we have made tremendous progress in just the last 3 years.”

Andrew Burrows, Agile Marketing Lead, IBM:

“There’s a lot to be proud of when analyzing the data in this year’s State of Agile Marketing report, and an intended 46% adoption in the next 6 months indicates that the scale of agile marketing is going to continue to increase. As we continue to scale and mature as an agile industry, I would challenge all of us to truly innovate with how we harness agility.”

Hybrid Agile Marketing Frameworks Just Work

Cameron van Orman, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer, Planview Inc.:

“In my first agile marketing transformation, I went all in with Scrum. But pure Scrum didn’t click for us. In fact, it was a major barrier to agile adoption. We realized that our wide variety of work types, which included milestone-based, long-duration, and continuous flow-based work, couldn’t be force fit into a traditional Scrum framework.”

Our wide variety of work types, which included milestone-based, long-duration, and continuous flow-based work, couldn’t be force fit into a traditional Scrum framework.

“Ultimately, I’ve found that Scrumban is the right approach for distributed marketing teams. At Planview, we follow many of the Scrum cadences, and we use digital Kanban to visualize and align our work, as well as analyze the flow of our work. As a result, we’ve seen the traction of our agile initiative, morale, and velocity increase.”

Jeff Clark, Principal Analyst, Marketing Operations Strategies, Forrester SiriusDecisions:

“The fact that so many agile marketers are using a hybrid approach is encouraging. It means that they are taking the time and effort to mold agile principles to their needs and culture.”

Andrew Burrows, Agile Marketing Lead, IBM:

“To the 47% of you executing through hybrid approaches — bravo! Marketing is a pure human-centric effort, and with today’s access to data and rapid rate of change, we should be leading our organizations in how quickly we are experimenting, learning, and adapting. So, I still don’t believe that weve discovered the best alignment of patterns, meetings, habits, and tools with which to execute marketing at scale.”

Marketing is a pure human-centric effort… we should be leading our organizations in how quickly we are experimenting, learning, and adapting.

“Having said that, I also don’t think focusing on finding the best approach will lead us to our best approach. Instead, we should focus on scaling behaviors, rooted in our values and principles, from which the best approaches can emerge.”

Benefits of Marketing Agility Take Many Forms

Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute:

“One of the results that struck me the most was the validation of how a prioritized agile process can help meet business priorities. The three highest priorities for marketing departments right now are ‘producing higher quality work,’ ‘increasing the productivity of our marketing teams,’ and ‘better aligning with organizational goals.'”

“All three of these goals speak to one common challenge, which is how well do marketing departments communicate both inside and outside of their teams. One of the strongest benefits we’ve seen of agile processes for our clients is that it simply removes much of the friction in communication strategies.”

One of the strongest benefits we’ve seen of agile processes for our clients is that it simply removes much of the friction in communication strategies.

Lucas Kirschman, Senior Manager, Agile Program Office, TD Ameritrade:

“Sure, we got into the agile game for the flashy benefits — better, faster, leaner — and we laid out corresponding OKRs by leveraging learnings from other agile adopters outside of marketing. ‘Faster’ being the one that is often the most attractive to those at the top of the food chain.”

“However, it’s about expectation setting up front. While the business impact will come, teams must be given the support to adopt and adapt to this new way of working first. Sometimes that can be a few months — especially as the team encounters roadblocks which impact speed of delivery that were impossible to foresee. It’s a given in the software dev world. The sooner marketers understand this reality, the better, as it will help to reduce stress levels across the board.”

Andrew Burrows, Agile Marketing Lead, IBM:

“Improving productivity (58%) and managing changing priorities (54%) are great reasons to adopt agility, but they are reactive to the situations we find ourselves in. I’d like to see increasing innovation rise from 49%, and include both external innovation for the client, and internal innovation for us as teams and organizations.”

“I’d also like to see team morale (32%) increase as a driving factor in agility. We know that agile teams that have embraced the values and principles of this way of working prove to be more engaged, and a truly self-directed team or organization hinges on the solid morale of the people operating within in.”

Jeff Clark, Principal Analyst, Marketing Operations Strategies, Forrester SiriusDecisions:

“Marketers are putting a greater priority in aligning with organizational goals, and this is where agile can really help. Organization goals provide clear direction on how marketers can drive value and agile provides the discipline to regularly review, ‘How are we doing against our goals?'”

Marketers are putting a greater priority in aligning with organizational goals, and this is where agile can really help.

Training and Tools Are Key

Cameron van Orman, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer, Planview Inc.:

“When it came to choosing an agile coach, we wanted someone who not only knew agile, but also understood how marketing organizations worked. While the fundamentals of agile may be similar across business functions, the work varies widely. Planning and executing a marketing campaign, for example, is not the same as building and releasing a new feature for a piece of software.”

“Our agile coach has played a cohesive role in helping us quickly understand our types of work, form persistent teams, and choose the right hybrid framework and tools that mapped to our types and ways of working.”

“With the need to collaborate daily across time zones, teams, and departments, it’s essential that we use enterprise Kanban software to stay aligned. Each of our dedicated teams and shared services has its own digital Kanban board that’s highly customized to each team’s own unique process for completing work.”

With the need to collaborate daily across time zones, teams, and departments, it’s essential that we use enterprise Kanban software to stay aligned.

“The team boards roll up to a single program board that gives leadership a clear view of how work is progressing, helping us to better enable initiatives and mitigate risks for all of the teams. The strategic alignment that we get by using enterprise Kanban software has been a key agile enabler for us.”

Jeff Clark, Principal Analyst, Marketing Operations Strategies, Forrester SiriusDecisions:

“There is an obvious need for agile training that is tailored to marketing use cases. It’s reassuring to see organizations like AgileSherpas ramp up their offerings to meet that demand.”

Change Is Hard, But Worth It

Carla Johnson, Speaker, Author, Marketing & Innovation Strategist:

“The growing adoption of agile shows that marketers understand they need a system that helps them respond to dynamic changes that are happening in business. As teams are expected to deliver more with the resources they have in place, it’s natural to look at processes. This is where the agile mindset answers the call, helping marketers produce more work that’s better quality, while still letting people course-correct.”

“This keeps momentum going for teams, shows constant progress to other departments, and reinforces marketing’s ability to contribute to bigger business goals. If marketers want to do a better job of showing how they deliver value, getting more sophisticated with their agile practice is the way to go.”

If marketers want to do a better job of showing how they deliver value, getting more sophisticated with their agile practice is the way to go.

Lucas Kirschman, Senior Manager, Agile Program Office, TD Ameritrade:

“There is an underlying commonality to all the barriers cited in the report: change is hard and it takes courage. With the right focus, commitment and prioritization, you can always: improve the way work is done, upskill your people to learn agile methods, and adopt the right tools — which are probably already available in your organization.”

“What you can’t expect is an adoption of agile to happen without courage from the marketing organization at-large. While that primarily comes from the leaders, middle managers, and those in the trenches have to believe as well.”

“It’s not easy to change the way we have been doing work for years and years. That’s where leadership must acknowledge that while this type of change will not be easy, this is truly the future of marketing. As well as a firm commitment to provide ongoing and unwavering support to remove impediments, provide training and help prioritize/deprioritize whenever needed.”

What you can’t expect is an adoption of agile to happen without courage from the marketing organization at-large.

Andrew Burrows, Agile Marketing Lead, IBM:

“58% of respondents using daily stand-ups but only 43% using retrospectives definitely indicates an opportunity for improvement. Without investing time into uncovering better ways of working, we run the risk of relying on processes instead of people. And, if we’re scaling an approach that isn’t emphasizing the need to put that effort into continually improving, are we really scaling agile? Or just a set of meetings and tools?”

Thanks, Andrea and your team of agile marketing champions!

Leave a Reply