Do things that don’t require approval

Do things that don't require approval - Bill Cushard

This essay is a hat tip to Paul Graham’s, Do things that don’t scale.

So, you want to implement agile marketing in your company. You think it’s a better way to work. You think you can deliver better work and create more value for your company. Maybe also so you can put it on your resume. You might even look good in front of your boss and peers. Get promoted. Maybe it’s just because you want to work on something cool.

All of these are good reasons.

All reasons I wanted to do it.

So I did it. I didn’t ask anyone what they thought. I didn’t go to my boss with a proposal. I just created a kanban board in a Jira project and starting sharing my in progress work with the team and asked them to add their tasks to the board.

Eventually we started using scrum for other projects.

We just did it.

That’s what we did.

Now, let’s talk about you. Just you. Not your entire team. Not your whole organization.

Just you.

You want to implement agile marketing in your company. Forgive me for making an assumption, but I think your problem is that you think you need or want to ask for permission from the boss to kick off your agile project.

I really don’t think you NEED to do that. I certainly don’t think you SHOULD. If you ask for permission, you are asking for a No. And since you want to do it, I suggest you don’t ask for approval.

Yes. I guess I am asking you to be a little rebellious. But not in a “give your boss the bird” kind of way. I just mean in the “leadership, take initiative” kind of way.

Don’t just take my word on this. Keri Keeling, Global Head of Customer Success at Juniper Networks gives similar career advice to customer success managers, “If your company doesn’t have a customer journey mapped. Map one. If there isn’t an escalation process. Create one.”


If your company doesn’t use scrum to run projects, deliver a project using scrum.

You can use scrum to figure out how you will implement kanban or scrum or whatever agile methodology you want to try.

“Scrum is for figuring it out,” says Fred Fowler when he blew my mind on the Nice Work! In the Atlassian Ecosystem podcast.

That quote will never leave me.

It changed my world.

If you want to implement agile marketing on your team, you need to figure out if it will work.

Do it with scrum.

Do it small.

Do it by just doing it.

One small step at a time.

A three person team.

Implement your next white paper campaign with it.

Learn how to use Miro to plan it out with sticky notes. Find a scrum Trello template and copy it.

Build your backlog. Like this.

  1. Hire a writer.

You don’t need permission to pull a team together to get this project done. You already do projects like this. You are just going to change how your team organizes and delivers the work.

And then deliver the best white paper (best quality, fastest delivery, most downloaded, highest conversion rate, etc) ever created in the history of your….well, you get the point.

Use scrum to do it.

People get caught up in corporate language and ceremonies.

Quick wins.

Pilot projects.

Minimal viable products.





Those are just ways to get you to slow down and conform. And worst of all, get you to turn your small project into a corporate initiative that requires someone else’s approval.

You already know you will be delivering that white paper (or webinar or Facebook campaign or product launch initiative) next quarter. If you think you can do it better with an agile methodology, start working that way today.

You don’t need approval for that.

When you do deliver a great outcome, in an iterative, collaborative, and team-effort kind of way, take a moment to reflect, smile, and then use what you learned on your next project.

Deliver three or four projects like that in a row, and your agile transformation is on and people will ask, “How’d you do that?”

You will respond, with stable confidence, “I didn’t ask for approval.”