You have your own permission to implement agile marketing


Agile marketing Bill Cushard

The only thing your agile marketing transformation needs right now is your permission to start. Look. I do not presume to know anything about your agile marketing transformation or how to get anything done in your organization. To be honest, I don’t always know how things work in my organization, and I’ve been doing my current work at the same place for nearly seven years.

But I do know this.

You have more power to make things happen (even in your company) than you think you do.

I assume since you are reading this that you:

  1. Want to implementation agile in your organization, and there is no interest to pursue it. Your boss might even have said to you straight, “Agile won’t work here.”

To say you are bumping up against resistance is an understatement.

I can relate to that.

You and I both know that change is difficult, especially in a large organization. We understand that no matter how perfectly bought in everyone is, a large-scale transformation of any kind, in any organization, will take time. It will not be easy. It takes constant pressure and leadership against the invisible forces that are stacked up against it.

So then you think to yourself in frustration, “I am powerless against this. I guess I will just wait until the initiatives are passed down before I start working agile.”

This belief is a mistake we often make. Actually…its two mistakes.

Mistake #1: The “I am powerless” thought.

Mistake #2: Accepting that large-scale transformations is the path forward.

Let’s address each.

Mistake #1: I am powerless.

OK. Yes. You probably cannot get your entire organization to “become agile” all by yourself or buy that agile software for your company on your own, even the free or inexpensive tool you wish you could start using, what with those pesky “terms and conditions” and security issues and privacy concerns.

Legit.

This is a problem because if you are going to implement agile in any large-way way. You will need software.

You also probably cannot even just get your entire team to start using an agile methodology. There’s convincing, persuading, and overcoming habits. It’s hard enough to change one’s own habits. You want to change the habits of 17 other people, who all work for a VP who is set in her ways?

Ugh.

Contrary to what you just read, none of it means you are powerless to implement agile. The above is just a made up belief. A belief you can change.

Let me help you change it.

Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have the power to schedule a meeting with someone else on your team (or someone from another team)?

I assume the answer to all three questions is yes (or at least “probably”).

If I am right, and you did answer yes to the questions above, then that means you have the power to implement agile.

Right now.

No permission.

Except your own.

You might think I’m crazy. I’m not (well, maybe I am).

It is crazy to think you cannot invite members of a team, with whom you are already working on a project, to a bunch of meetings and talk about what you need to get done to make progress on that project that you are all already working on together.

A small team. Working on a problem. Figuring out how to solve it together.

“Scrum is for figuring it out.” — Fred Fowler (Professional Scrum Master I, II, and III) on the Nice Work! Podcast

I bet you are already having team meetings to get work done. You just aren’t following the process in those agile books you read. You just need to make some tweaks to how your team is already working to implement agile.

Here are some changes you could make to get your team to be more agile:

  1. Schedule a planning meeting and plan out the teams tasks for the week.

That’s it.

I know it’s a lot of meetings, and your team is not used to that many meetings, but you probably are already taking to each other at least that much about the project between meetings. You just need to alter how you work on the project together.

You have the power to do that.

That’s agile.

That’s doing agile.

Each week you deliver some work product to some customers (internal or external) to make sure you are on track.

Do this a few weeks in a row, and there’s your agile marketing transformation.

You don’t need permission to do any of that.

Except your own.

And you didn’t even need to buy software.

Mistake #2: Accepting that large-scale transformations is the path forward.

The second mistake we make is accepting that in order to change anything it needs to be large-scale. It’s not that large initiatives aren’t necessary. They are. It’s that we forget, except for the “Big Bang,” everything great that ever happened in the world, started small.

Steve Wozniak and Steve jobs built and sold one computer in July 1976.

One.

At a meetup.

Sara Blakey sold her first Spanks order to Bloomingdales, and she hadn’t even made them yet.

They didn’t even have a crotch.

Bloomingdales.

Or was it Neiman Marcus? I can’t remember.

You think your CEO is going to run a live video on Workplace from Facebook to announce, “We are now agile.”

I don’t think so.

It has to start small. Not large-scale.

VPs don’t think small. You should see their very…non-agile…project plan…to implement agile. Think about that.

Doomed.

You can think small. You can implement agile with agile. And you don’t need the CEO’s permission for that. You just need you.

Allow me to “prove” my point with a quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Starting small is you organizing your next webinar project with a small team using scrum and a Google Doc. Or Sheets.

Or Miro.

Use Trello.

They are free.

If you are subject to company policies that prevent you from using free software….use the software your company already uses. Office 365. It doesn’t matter.

I’m in the software business, and I’m saying the software doesn’t matter.

Beware people who have their identity all wrapped in the software they use: “I’m on Slack all day. I can’t work without it”

Good grief.

The software doesn’t better. People on the team matter. The work matters. Your mission matters.

The more time you spend on what software to use (or complaining that you cannot use the software you want) is time spend away from your agile marketing transformation and making a different in your work.

Scale it down

The secret to this entire essay can be summed up in three words:

Scale it down

Scale your agile marketing transformation to the smallest possible scope and amount of work at which point you don’t need any permission from anyone other than yourself. Make it so small that no one would notice or care that you are doing it.

Get your team together.

The current team you are already working with to deliver on your next current webinar. Use an agile methodology (for example, scrum) to deliver that webinar. Go faster, make it more valuable, learn how to improve each week, and deliver the best webinar you’ve done yet. And, most importantly, have fun doing it. Work like a team for once, instead of a collection of individuals each doing their part. Bring people together, and deliver great work.

Then…do it again.

You don’t need permission or approval for any of that.

And people will notice.

Maybe not after one webinar or one white paper project. But after you redesign the website or seamlessly migrate from one marketing automation system to another or say for the ninth time, “Our sprint is locked down, but we’ll put that in the backlog and plan it out in our next sprint,” people will begin to notice. They will start coming to you, asking how you do it.

You will show them.

Humbly.

You will offer to help them do it. You will give them a copy of your scrum board template. Pretty soon you’ll be invited to meetings in other departments to show them how you do.

The snowball will start to roll downhill

That’s it.

You can start your agile marketing transformation today.

You know you can.

If you need a nudge

I wrote an agile marketing book to help people implement their own agile marketing transformation. Rebel-style. The book is called, The Art of Agile Marketing: A Roadmap for Implementing Kanban and Scrum in Jira and Confluence.

After you read the book, you will know exactly how to implementing agile marketing without software and with a small team. It is your roadmap for being a rebel agile marketer.

A special thank you

Special thank you to Anthony Coppedge, agile marketing coach and agile transformation lead at IBM, for inspiring this blog. We had a conversation several months ago, and he said to me, “Your writing on this subject ‘gives people permission’ to do this.”

I thought it quite presumptuous to think I give anyone permission to do anything. I think anyone can do this…without anyone’s permission. Anthony helped me understand that we all thrive when we hear new perspectives. That’s how we grow. “Duh,” I say to myself. I seek this all the time. It’s how I learn. That’s why I wrote this.

Thank you Anthony.

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