By Katie Lowell

Traditional Marketing vs Agile Marketing :
Round 3 – The Autonomous Team

In our last battle round about productivity, we commented on how Agile is no miracle worker, however, once we implemented it we noticed a radical shift in the department. Not only was there more output in that more projects were ‘completed’, but the team had a greater sense of pride, they felt empowered and the culture of the team had shifted.

You may be wondering how is that possible? A different way of working doesn’t necessarily facilitate a radical change in the culture and empowerment, does it? And isn’t that all possible when taking a traditional approach to marketing?

First, yes, it is possible to operate in a traditional way and have a team that feels empowered and has pride in their work. That said, it all depends on your team, team dynamics, individual team members, management style, the list goes on. There are a ton of variables that can ‘make or break’ having an empowered and prideful team.

After we adopted Agile we witnessed a heightened level of teamwork, comradery, and collaboration. As a result of that we believe, the team felt more empowered and prideful of their work. Here’s one specific story or example that we recall, that said, often times many of our sprint reviews imitated something similar to this:

We were early in our adoption of Agile, for this sprint, we had split the team in two to divide and conquer on the projects. We had an unofficial “ScrumMaster” that helped facilitate and project manage the burndown chart of the work and facilitate stand-up meetings during the Sprint.

For this particular one, the team booked space at a co-working type location and allowed us to get outside the office. The approach the team took for this was to put together a quick slide deck to walk through their thought process as to how they tackled the User Stories. The teams walked through the slides, shared the research they had done, had the stakeholders of the projects heavily involved, and even included the metrics. They established goals early and hypothesized what they thought could happen for the appropriate next three-plus months after going live with the MVP. They then shared the MVPs they had created, whether it was on the screen or physical printouts they put together.

For this particular Sprint, I didn’t serve as a Stakeholder, but rather a bystander to our newly autonomous team. I was there for support, obviously had conversations along the way, observed, etc. but no longer did everything run up the chain of command, so to speak, for my approval. Nor did I help with every roadblock that got in the way.

And here’s the thing, I probably could have felt like I was ‘left out’ or ‘wasn’t needed’ anymore. But the reality was, I was so incredibly proud of our team. It wasn’t just the output they were showing us in the Review meeting, but what they accomplished TOGETHER, autonomously was like magic.

As I understand it, delegating decision-making to the team can be one of the most difficult things when transitioning to Agile Marketing for the manager. As proven from our experience, the benefit is huge in terms of empowering the teams to operate as a team.

We were definitely not all about just the quantity of work, but they had accomplished more in two weeks than they had in six weeks prior to adopting Agile. They showed and shared with us the unexpected hurdles they overcame as a team. And the beauty of it was, everyone played a role. Both in the work and in the Review. It wasn’t just the loudest in the room. Even the one who is usually reserved and rarely spoke up in a group setting shared as well. Everyone had their part. You could feel their pride and see the smiles on their faces.

While Agile facilitates a process of how the team worked, it opened up minds to a new way of working, shifted perspectives, and empowered the team to explore new ways of working together and creating some really cool sh!t.

The work was hardly done and it certainly didn’t stop there, as there was much more from an execution and measurement perspective. But all that being said with the assistance of Agile, the dynamic shifted greatly within the team, for the better.

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