Understanding the Three Key Factors to Agile Transformation


A recent McKinsey report cites some mouth-watering statistics relating to organisations that have achieved a successful agile transformation. Overall, these organisations saw 30% improvements in customer satisfaction and efficiency, 5 – 10 x increase in speed of decision making, and a 30%-point rise in employee engagement.   

But as a busy, pressured CMO fighting to balance brand and performance marketing, short and long-term goals, how do you unlock these benefits? 

Firstly, what is Agile Marketing? The Wikipedia definition is as good as any: ‘an organisational effectiveness strategy that uses self-organising, cross-functional teams doing work in frequent iterations. It aims to drive growth by focusing a team’s efforts on activities that deliver value to the end customer.’ 

As you’d expect, like any major organisational change, agile transformation is not easy. Some initial success factors include clarity of goals and priorities, a commitment from senior leadership, and adequate Martech. 

With the stage set, let’s dive into each factor. 

  1. Clarity of goals and priorities  

Companies that reap the rewards of being agile have self-organising teams. This means leadership set clear, outcome-focused goals then get out of the way and let the people who are closest to the coal face, determine how best to deliver those outcomes. This means moving from directing to guiding. For example, instead of a leader of a Telco business stating, ‘I want you to deliver an integrated campaign in four months that promotes the camera quality of our new phone,’ they would instead say, ‘We want to grow our new business market share of this phone market from X to Y by the end of the year.’ They would then proceed to assemble a cross-functional team that is empowered to determine how best to meet this goal.  

  1. Senior Leadership Commitment 

The role of a senior marketing leader is radically different in truly agile teams. They have three main functions: 

  1. Protect the team – Have tough conversations with other senior leaders who want to interrupt the team and direct them away from the agreed goals. They bring requests, not demands, and are prepared for the team to say no if they believe the request doesn’t fit with the delivery of the agreed goal. 
  1. Prioritise with confidence – Provide strong direction on what’s most important in terms of the outcomes they are looking for and give clear direction on the order of priorities. 
  1. Don’t tell, ask questions – Avoid being the bottleneck by building team capability to make their own decisions instead. If the team need help, don’t tell them what to do but instead ask questions that guide the team to the right answer. 
  1. Adequate Martech 

The word Martech can strike fear into the hearts of marketers, but in today’s world, it’s a reality that must be embraced. The good news is, in terms of agile it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should help deliver some of the agile marketing manifesto values

  1. ‘Focusing on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs’ – Agile teams need to have sufficient insight to help them measure customer and business outcomes rather than just vanity metrics. How often have product owners sat through marketing presentations that celebrate reach and impressions, and all they are thinking is, ‘How many of my products have been sold because of this marketing spend?’ 
  1. ‘Learning through experiments and data over opinions and conventions’ – To move away from decisions based on the HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion), the martech has to be good enough to provide data and insights that outrank opinion. 
  1. ‘Cross-functional collaboration over silos and hierarchies’ – For cross-functional teams to operate efficiently, they need a martech solution that brings transparency and focus on the work being done by the team, usually called a Kanban or Scrum Board. There are many options (Trello, Leankit, Asana, etc). Each organisation needs to choose the one that’s easiest to integrate into their ways of working, that the team will adhere to, and use the single source of truth of all work being done by that team. 

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to Agile marketing transformation. Wherever you are in your journey, Flock can help. Contact us to learn how we’ve helped our clients with their journey to more agile ways of working. 

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