Cross-functional teams are a best practice in Agile software development. Rather than organize by skill-set silos (Writing detailed specifications, writing code, quality assurance) and pass work from one skill-set silo to the next, Agile software developers organize by projects or customer value streams . Rather than pass a project from one skill-set silo to the next, they include people with all of the necessary skills on the team and the team is responsible for the project from beginning to end.
Most business interact with customers in both the digital environment (website, social media, digital advertising) and in the physical world (in retail stores, over the telephone, through distribution reps, through outside sales reps). If you have retail stores, you have to print signage and train retail sales people. If you have a toll free number, whether for service or sales, you have to create scripts and train CSRs and telemarketing staff. If you sell physical products, you need logistics to source and deliver those products in the physical world.
Doing Agile is not the same as Being Agile according to Michael Sahota and I couldn’t agree more. Doing Agile can be learned in a 2-3 day class that teaches the basics of Scrum and Kanban. Being Agile requires much more: a cultural shift to an agile mindset as well as changes to the way employees are managed, motivated, trained and hired.
There’s no question that Doing Agile by itself leads to certain benefits: improved communication and visibility to what each team member is working on, some increases in productivity and perhaps the ability to set priorities with intent as conditions change.
But the transformative benefits occur from Being Agile, by which I mean consistently, predictably responding quickly in the face of change, delighting customers and achieving excellence through engaged employees all working together towards common goals.
What does it take for marketers to achieve Being Agile? Here are some ways your team can move towards this goal.
Agile Marketing is not a sprint. Agile Marketing is not a marathon. Agile Marketing is more like a life long commitment to exercise. You have to practice it every day, and over time, with commitment and consistency, the benefits begin to accrue.
If you make a commitment to exercise, there are different aspects of exercise to build a healthy body: cardiovascular training, strength training and flexibility. Neglect any one of these and you are not getting the full benefits.
There are also different aspects to Agile Marketing. I’ve listed six of them in the diagram above. Each of them is important, and if you neglect any one, you’re not getting the full benefits of Agile Marketing. That’s not to say that you need to address all of them at the start of your work with Agile. Just like exercise, you should start off gradually, building upon a base before attempting some of the more difficult aspects of Agile Marketing like creating remarkable customer experiences.
In the past, I’ve used and taught Scrum in preference to Kanban for Agile Marketing. Sure, I’ve admitted that you could use Kanban for a few applications, and sure, I’ve used a Kanban board, but as I’ve come to understand, that’s not the same thing as practicing Kanban as a methodology. Recently, I’ve learned a lot more about Kanban thanks to a couple of excellent books (more about that below) and exposure to a new generation of Kanban tools, particularly Kanbanize and LeanKit.
As a result, I teach Kanban before I teach Scrum in my classes, and in many cases I recommend Kanban for Agile Marketing.