In this episode we talk with Mark Verone about his work adapting Agile to marketing and operations at Gogo. I initially got to know Mark through a six-part Forbes series on the topic of Agile Marketing—if you have not come across this content it’s worth a read.
In this conversation we really delve into operational aspects of Agile—Mark has a proper enterprise context that means integrating many systems that support his practice. Thus the conversation covers both marketing practices but also some of the platforms that support the practices. Mark’s team relies heavily on Jira which is interesting because many marketing teams initially struggle with more robust solutions like Jira and prefer lighter-weight applications like Asana or LeanKit. There’s some fascinating bits in here about how he’s customized workflows to support his team practice.
We also touch on why Mark’s team gravitated to Scrumban and how they’ve organized themselves with respect to aspects of the supply chain he manages. Give it a listen—as always we want your feedback! Let us know how we’re doing, what questions we should be asking, and where to take the show next.
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 Frank Days and Roland Smart speak with Scott Sweeney about his work at Kubotek—a CAD software company—where he’s applied Agile to demand oriented programs. This conversation should be particularly relevant for those with co-located, small marketing teams that work closely with sales.
Scott is a self-taught Scrum Master who speaks to how they’ve adapted their Agile to his company and culture. Beyond Americanizing the “scrum” as a “huddle”, he speak to how he’s integrated some practices from his management consulting days, such as Rockefeller Habits, into their method.
In this episode we discuss:
- How to adapt Agile to your company, team, project and culture
- How Agile can support demand oriented programs
- How long it takes to get to a stable practice from Sprint 0
Thanks for listening and we look forward to hearing your feedback.
Frank Days and Roland Smart forgo interviewing a guest to make room for a conversation that reflects on some of the ideas that emerged from recent shows. It’s a bit of an experiment so we want to hear what you think—for our part we really enjoyed being able to step back and consider some of the challenges associated with scaling Agile.
Part of the conversation references Roland’s recent blog post entitled Combating Agile Objections: It Doesn’t Scale! At a high-level we discuss:
- How frameworks for scaling Agile might facilitate executive alignment
- What marketers can learn from developer oriented frameworks such as the Scaling Agile Framework (SAFe), which seems too prescriptive for marketers.
- How Google’s OKR framework might serve as a marketer friendly (less prescriptive) approach to facilitate alignment.
Bonus: Here’s a link to the Harvard Business Review article that’s mentioned in this session: Embracing Agile.
Thanks for listening and as always, stay Agile!