ON THE WAY TO AGILE MARKETING
DECEMBER 5th AND 6th, THE FIRST SEED WAS PLANTED (HOW TO START AGILE MARKETING)
Two days. Deborah Ghisolfi arrives in Interlogica to get us started with Agile Marketing. We are no slouch though, Deborah was a speaker at one of our events dedicated to the Agile culture.
Enthusiasm is the word that best expresses our feelings in setting off on this journey along with her. A journey through heavy seas, as you will understand by reading these few paragraphs, towards totally unexplored destinations, but that has also led us to consider more objectively our role as a team within the company ecosystem.
SHORT PARENTHESIS ON AGILE CULTURE WITHIN THE COMPANY
For a while Interlogica has endorsed the Agile culture, we have written many articles and made several videos on the topic (here the link to the section “Inside Agile” on YouTube for further exploring). Every day we strive to implement Agile good practice through concrete actions.
For more than a year, we have organized an event, the Agile Venezia Meetup, with the aim of promoting diffusion and confrontation on this subject, and it was at one of these meetings, as mentioned above, that we had the opportunity to meet Deborah – CEO of Agile Marketing Italia – and the magical world of Agile Marketing! Concepts that she summed up in a very useful article she wrote for our blog.
I mean, there’s nothing to say, we get a lot busy… and not without satisfaction.
There is a but though.
AN INCURSION INTO THE HISTORY OF AGILE
It is well known that in the ‘90s, with the advent of Agile culture, new rules and new models of thought arose, unshackling the existing ones and freeing corporate productive processes. The aim was to provide better efficiency, a more performing work environment and a superior product (incremental development and delivery).
The previous model, son of the industrial production, could poorly fit with a complex field of work such as the IT.
Wait a minute… that is exactly what was happening to us in the marketing team having harsh time applying Scrum (the Agile framework conceived for the management of the software development cycle, iterative and incremental)!
HOW WE CAME TO THE PRESENT DAY: PROBLEMS AND COMPLEXITIES
Yes, we have to admit it, us in the marketing team do not have an easy life in a software company.
We deal with situations that have nothing to do with the corporate core business. We have timescales, methods and product metrics of value which are entirely different from those of software production.
Often the development teams are dedicated to one project at a time and interface with a single client; in addition, all team members are aligned on the use of the same programming languages, such as Java, PHP, or something…
In the marketing instead, we work on many projects at the same time, we interact with more customers in parallel, our goals change from day to day, and our performance yardstick needs to be invented from scratch, as well as getting feedback on our work is something that has not yet been entirely built.
You can add to this strange recipe, the fact that – to date – we are five people, five different professionals who use five different languages, each with their tools and specificities… in short, a big mess!
Therefore, when I talk about using Scrum within our team, I try to summarise the extreme difficulty of managing a framework that can poorly adapt to the current framework. We tried to adapt it to our way of working, we deformed it and it turned out to be a leaking sieve.
AT THE DAWN OF THE AGE OF AGILE MARKETING
That was a just some paragraphs long premise to explain with what baggage of complexity our team landed at the meeting due, with Deborah Ghisolfi. These are December 5 and 6. Where to start?
Deborah’s task, at the given point, is to take the tangle as it is and begin to unravel it.
We are immediately asked to answer the first uncomfortable questions: how we work in teams, how much satisfied we are, what the flow of projects is, how many and which customers to respond to if we usually set clear and measurable objectives and so on. And there the first confessions come up: all the difficulties, the gaps, the number of doubts about the working processes in place (without neglecting the mess prevailing in our Trello board).
I must confess, it had been a while since I could sense a not well definable pinch of chaos.
I’ll try to use a metaphor to make myself clear.
Imagine a boat loaded with parcels to be delivered in many different ports. Initially, the loads are arranged with some certain criterion in order to define a coherent route of travel. Landing after landing, some small delay here, some parcel added there, you leave room to sort of chaos at the expense of the initial consistency.
The sailors start to lose the itinerary to stay, and to have confusion on the right course to follow, progressively losing the ability to really steer their boat and its cargo. I feel like one of those sailors.
So I can explain better my amazement when Deborah said: “This boat needs to be tidied up, just do not jump off bridges beforehand, you are already doing a good job, but you can improve and get more satisfaction while you’re doing it!”
Obvious question: how to start with Agile Marketing?
Answer: the secret is to change the point of view!
FROM A TASK WORK SYSTEM TO ONE BASED ON OBJECTIVES
First of all: no more tasks to be accomplished, but goals to achieve.
A goal is a path made of many stages, for example, my work could end when I finish telling this story, but my goal is not just about here: only when the article will be published in the corporate blog and people will read it, then yes, my goal will be considered reached.
Back to the metaphor, the important thing is not the delivery of the parcel, but the effect that its contents produce.
NOT ONLY GOALS, WELCOME METRICS
Defining the objectives is not sufficient though, it is essential to always walk them with metrics that can make the objective measurable. Only then you can understand concretely how much value you are creating for the company.
And here it starts the complicated part, the one that requires a practice gym.
I can assure you that defining metrics is not a small thing, it is a proper challenge; the evidence is the satisfaction of figuring out you are really steering your boat – and if not, change course in navigation.
AKA, your goal.
This leads to another consideration: making mistakes is necessary teaching that can be transformed into baggage of knowledge.
Another aspect is the transformation of the concept of delivering quickly.
As expressed just above, if I finish writing my article, but my colleague Gaia does not proofread it, upload it on the website and publish it, I can not say that the work is finished.
At this point, it is made clear another element: it is my best interests that Gaia takes care of all these actions before starting a new job.
What does this mean? It means teamwork, a constant check on the projects progress, the satisfaction that everyone is on point and that they have got the perception of when and what is delivered on a daily basis, and of which and how many objectives have been achieved!
The path is long and these are just some of the points we’ve been dealing with.
Ten principles and seven values compose the Agile Marketing Manifesto, and on each one, we thought and formulated our own personal interpretation as a team: this is how the Vision Team’s Agile Manifesto was born.
Yes, along the way with Deborah we realised that the name of the team “fit” wrong, did not correspond to our professionalisms, so we looked for and found, a dress that best fit our needs.
This is also part of our journey.
THE NEW VOCABULARY OF AGILE MARKETING
Lean Canvas, Unique Value Proposition, Key Metrics, WIP Limits…
There is a whole vocabulary full of words related to an entire world, a mindset that can dramatically revolutionise the way you do Marketing.
A number of brand new tools and many new ways to use the existing ones; tools that until the day before seemed very useful and now are essential to staying the course.
It is no accident that the new team name – “Vision” – emerged out of this occasion, it had been a long time since we had the perception of sailing difficult waters.
Now we have been given new equipment and we are on our way to a more coherent identity. A different vision, made of design and voice that match well to draw the goals to strive.
Why are we talking about Agile Marketing right now, since we are no longer the Marketing team?
Because we learnt the importance of defining in a personalized way – and not standardised – our contribution to the company: the Vision Team has to find the best way to show out what an idea is, an approach, what we are – as a Group – and at once, opens dialogue on what it remains in the making, by ferrying the idea towards the future, that first and foremost is a “vision”!
Somehow, apart from declining our work in the form of the objectives to be reached, the team has managed to find its driving goal.
TO SUM IT UP
They were two intense days of meeting/studying with Deborah, who marked the way we should walk as a team.
But not only that. She was also there to introduce the Agile Marketing Masterclass project, one of her creatures.
Our CEO, Alessandro Fossato, who knows a great deal about “vision”, not only in terms of business – he is able to intuit almost instinctively the quality of everyone and the road he can walk together with them – has welcomed the Masterclasses idea with enthusiasm.
We, on our side, could not dream better than dealing with something that was changing us for the better and so radically: if the Agile Marketing works so well for us and makes the job more flexible and functional to the fast changes of the market, then it can be worth spreading the word.
Do you want to board on this adventure too?
Stay tuned and we will soon give you all the information you need.