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As many of you already know, I am always interested in exploring the ways that marketers can adapt management approachs from the software development world.  With this in mind, I was very excited to recruit Jim Ewel for our January Boston Agile Marketing meetup.

His talk focused on how the Software Capability Maturity Model as it could be applied to build a world-class marketing team.  Here are some highlights from the presentation on January 29, 2014.

  •  The original inspiration for his talk came from a blog post by eConsultancy about “Creating a Marketing Function Fit for the Future“.
  • He offered that marketing has five levels of maturity starting at an “Initial” level that relies on “heroic efforts” (I’m sure most of us are familiar with this) to the highest “Holistic” level that he asserts delivers “Remarkable Customer Experiences”.
  • Interestingly, Agile was only at level two of his framework.  His point was that scrumming alone was only part of the solution. The mindset change that is necessary to reach levels 3 and 4 requires continuous experimentation, learning and responsive management. This makes sense as the Agile process by itself is really only the first step towards “marketing enlightenment”.
  • His points about types of marketing metrics really resonated with me.  How many times have we encountered so-called “vanity metrics” that are pulled out selectively to make a point but don’t really capture the essence of what is happening? He cited pageviews an example. He contrasted those with “actionable” metrics that are results-oriented and typically related to revenue.  As most of us have learned, these are the numbers our CMO and CEO are most interested in.
  • He included a quote from Matt Heinz making the point that Agile as a project management approach can “lull” people into a sense  of accomplishing goals by moving things from the backlog to the done column.  I agree with Matt here.  Without aligning scrums with measurable business results, Agile is just another project management fad.
  • I really enjoyed Jim synoposis of “T-shaped” people vs. “Pi” shaped people.  My best hires have been in the”Pi” category where they have broad general knowledge coupled with strong left-brain analytic and right-brain creative talents.
  • Finally, his points about experimentation really hit home.  He used the Ted Williams analog where failing 2/3 of the time still resulted in a Hall of Fame career.  Are we marketers prepared to fail this frequently?

Here are the slides from Jim’s talk:

Thanks again to the Boston Agile Marketing meetup organizating team including Amy Callahan, John Cass, Scott Brinker and David Quinn for making this happen.

And finally, thanks again to Jim Ewel for a great talk!

Stayed tuned to the meetup group for our next event in late Feb in collaboration with MITX.