SprintZero – The Physics of Agile Marketing Wrap Up

June 25, 2012

UPDATE: John Cass wrote a great response to this post about why agile marketing does need its own manifesto, I can’t argue with any of it, John nailed it. The definition of marketing that he uses is superior to the one I use below as well:

 “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

Back in early June I was invited to join a panel at SprintZero – The Physics of Agile Marketing:

“The one and only @njm on the #sprint0 agile marketing panel” – @kolofsen on Instagram

SprintZero was organised by John Cass and Jim Ewel and hosted by Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO at Mindjet. Being new to marketing and an old hand at Agile this was an interesting event for me – I wasn’t going into it thinking I could contribute a whole lot to the marketing discussion. I was expecting to learn a tonne though. I’ll start by clarifying a few terms:

  • Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers.
  • Agile, as in Agile software development, is the iterative and incremental delivery of value to customers where solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams.

Agile Marketing is in its formative stages. One of the goals of the day was to develop principals and values that build upon the Agile Manifesto and which are specific to marketing organisations. To my knowledge this is the first time a functional department has extended and built upon the original Agile Manifesto. It leaves me wondering why this is necessary when we have accounting and finance departments, legal and human resources departments, all of them adopting agile practices without writing their own manifesto. Jim Ewel has more on this aspect of the day in his blog The Making of a Manifesto.

Of course, we are all at various stages of this learning so we need to bring everyone up to a common platform of understanding. Focusing attention on Agile Marketing will do this.

Does this overlap with The Lean Startup?

Doesn’t everything these days? There was lots of discussion throughout the day about testing ideas and validating hypothesis. I feel this is reactionary and that marketing teams are on the back foot. Product teams are turning into customer teams and doing this today. Marketing is playing catch up and risks being left out of the decision making process.

One question for me was: if we think back to agile and the cross-functional teams, how can we get marketing people embedded within the product development team?

What was the key takeaway?

The key takeaway for me was via Kirstin Falk, CMO of Red Bricks Media:

Brand is even more important today. Everyone in the company should be connected by the values of the brand. Brands are more successful if they start inward and emanate out. Employees drive the brand, it is not top down.

This is spot on for Atlassian. Early on our founders decided that the employees should have their own voice – for instance, this blog and my many colleagues on Twitter, Facebook, etc. That approach has worked well for Atlassian by ensuring that it is legitimate. We – the team at Atlassian – develop the brand based on our alignment with the company values and how we live and breathe them every day, in everything we do. As a result we have faces out there who are all singing from the same songbook.

I hadn’t thought of it this way previously. Kirstin put it succinctly and I like that!

Recommended Reading:

Where to from here?

I left this event feeling so out of place. I’ve lived Agile. We are Agile at Atlassian. This isn’t a change we are trying to make so much as something we have had since day one. We are constantly exploring opportunities to improve. On the whole though I left this event thinking that we’re doing pretty well. The key for me is to brush up my knowledge on traditional marketing and learn more about where those folks are coming from when they seek to be agile.

What is their motivation?

How do they bridge the gap between past and present approaches?

Austin Walne is organising the first SF Agile Marketing meetup which we will host Atlassian next month. Looking forward to catching up with folks and continuing the discussion.

What did you think?

What was your takeaway? Was this blog valuable? Tweet me and let me know.