For this episode we welcome Steve Demchuk of CA Technologies who serves as the vice president of product management for Agile Central (formerly Rally). With a big company background, Steve offers unique insights into what it takes to scale Agile not just in product management but across to marketing as well.
He’s seen enterprise teams try to make the transition from projects to products—in the marketing world we’ve referred to this as the transition from campaigns to programs—and he’s working on a platform to help enterprises be successful with Agile.
In this session we touch on some familiar themes such as how to keep a large number of implementation teams in sync and what it takes to keep these same teams in alignment with executive led goals. Towards the middle of the conversation we zero in on a discussion about how product management and marketing can use Agile as a platform for alignment and collaboration. And Steve shares his thoughts on the differences he’s seen ramping up product/engineering teams with Agile vs marketing teams.
This episode we’re joined by Meghan Wilkinson a senior manager, strategy, program design and project effectiveness at Level3 Communications. There’s a lot going on with that title so let me break it down… Meghan found a passion for helping teams improve their performance during her tenure working on events, with sales, and in a customer success role. Like many marketers she discovered that Agile is a useful approach to addressing team performance and collaboration. Beyond that, she talks at length about how Agile has helped drive an enterprise transformation.
This conversation includes a case study on the work that Meghan has done bringing Agile to a large enterprise that has had as many as 17 Agile teams working in parallel in the marketing function. Listen in to learn about:
- Why Agile leaders must have “fortitude” to drive transformation
- How outside consultants have played a critical role in adoption
- What makes for a successful pilot
- Why she pulled back from 17 smaller Agile teams to 5 larger teams
If you find this conversation useful please let us know on Twitter @rsmartly and @tangyslice. And, we want to hear your stories so reach out to us about those as well!
In this episode of The Marketing Agility Podcast we’re joined by Steve Wolfe of CA Technologies and Yuval Yeret of AgileSparks. Steve joined CA through their acquisition of Rally Software a company that’s been developing tooling for Agile projects for several years. Yuval and AgileSparks has been working with CA to implement an Agile practice on the marketing side of the house.
Like our previous conversation with VistaPrint this is an example of a company that’s bringing in outside resources to help facilitate an Agile transformation. Steve and Yurat speak about:
- Using Agile to manage what can feel like an overwhelming amount of incoming marketing requests
- How they are developing an Agile implementation from the bottom up and top down.
- How to implement Agile with highly distributed teams and in a silo’d context.
There are still not that many companies that are making a push for Agile both bottom up and top down. You can check out the CA Agile Blog
and if you’re in Boston check out this upcoming meetup
This is the first of a new series of episodes in which we’ll speak with leaders at Agile tooling companies. Mahesh Singh is the cofounder and sr. vice president of marketing at Digite—the makers of Swift Kanban. Digite has been around since 2002 and they launched Swift Kanban in about 2011. At this time the service was focused on product management but it’s expanded to support marketing use cases. In this episode we discuss:
- How Swift Kanban has expanded across business functions
- How it integrates with other marketing tools (e.g. Salesforce)
- What marketing analytics it provides
- And, how it supports a range of Agile methods
For a first conversation with a tooling vendor this was a very informative discussion. It certainly validates that trend that we’re seeing with respect to marketers adopting Agile. If you’re interested in testing out Swift Kanban they have a free trial on the website, lots of documentation, video tutorial, and even a user community.
In this episode Frank Days and Roland Smart speak with Peter Eggleston about his work getting a couple startups off the ground as well as work at Aptus Health. The episode covers some familiar ground as Peter compares his experience at small startups to his time at a larger company. In the former context Peter’s role converged the product management and product marketing function and helped him develop a deep appreciation for the role that Agile has to play as a platform for collaboration between marketers and product managers.
One topic that came up in this conversation speaks to a couple recurring questions—how to balance one’s Agile practice with work that either conforms better to a Waterfall approach or that is unexpected. Most Agile practitioners will, of course, immediately recognize that unexpected requests represent an opportunity to revisit the backlog to discuss whether or not the new request trumps what’s in process. But those pragmatists out there will also recognize that approach does not always work—especially when the requester is not an adherent of the Agile process. Over the past few episodes we’ve heard about a few different approaches that can help:
- Set expectations with your team that some percentage of their time will be dedicated to Agile and the rest will be Waterfall.
- Reserve story points within each sprint to accommodate unexpected requests.
- Establish a stand along Agile team that is focused only on unexpected requests.
These are all mechanisms to support resiliency. While they all will add some overhead—or inefficiency—they have the potential to make you much more successful when it comes to making friends and influencing people within your company.
Finally here’s some information from Peter on a management framework that we had not heard of before called 4DX (four disciplines of execution). The associated principles are:
- Focusing on the Wildly Important
- Acting on Lead Measures
- Keeping a Compelling Scoreboard
- Creating a Cadence of Accountability
Point # 4 breaks into:
- Create a rhythm of frequent periodic meetings
- Same time every week
- Report on commitments, review and update scoreboards. make new commitments
It makes utilizing Agile tools very natural to implement 4DX. Or conversely, it makes 4Dx very agile-like. I recommend reading The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals to learn more. Or visit: http://the4disciplinesofexecution.com/
In this episode we fired up the Wayback Machine and reviewed a podcast with one of the first guests on the show, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff. I (Roland) had the pleasure of working with Jascha at Involver back in the day, now he’s the CMO at a little internet company called Mozilla. Besides being an early adopter and advocate for Agile Marketing Jascha also wrote a wonderful book on Agile called Growing Up Fast, I highly recommend picking up a copy. It’ll look great on your shelf next to The Agile Marketer 🙂
In this episode we revisit some of the topics that from our earlier podcast including:
- Is there more tolerance today for Agile experiments that fail—in the service of getting to success?
- How has your approach to driving adoption internally evolved?
- How are you tailoring your Agile method to different parts of your team?
Jascha is a very thoughtful guy that managed to make this episode both philosophically and pragmatically inspiring. Give it a listen … I think you’ll agree that we need to bring Jascha back before another five years goes by!