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How agile adoption will change the way we work in 2020

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Working in agile has been around on the software side for a few decades but the martech industry has been getting on the bandwagon in the past few years. While it’s still the early adopters running full-fledged agile marketing teams, it continues to be the way that companies are headed to be more mainstream in the coming year.

You may soon be asked to work in agile instead of the traditional, hierarchical way that has been the norm for the past 100 years in marketing. You’ll need to adapt from your current ways of working.

Below are three major changes that you’re likely to see in how your company approaches project management in 2020.

Marketing plans will be short-term flexible roadmaps

It used to be the norm to write a detailed marketing plan for the year ahead (or even five years ahead). However, we are learning that as soon as these marketing plans get distributed to the teams, they are already out of date. Our marketing landscape moves so quickly now that we need to be flexible and adaptable to change, which is why agile marketing is so valuable to teams.

This isn’t to say that marketing plans don’t have any value – it absolutely helps steer the strategic direction of the teams. It’s how they are put together and used that’s changing to keep up with our fast-paced world.

The new marketing plans are high-level roadmaps that manage campaigns. There is little detail because the people doing the work fill in the details as they get closer to doing the work.

Just because it’s on paper doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. These roadmaps should be re-visited every week or so to see if the timelines are realistic and review priorities.

Here’s an example of a 2020 marketing roadmap:

How agile adoption will change the way we work in 2020 1
Source: Aha.io

More generalists than specialists will be needed

For a while, marketing roles were all about getting very specific skills and specialties. With the movement of agile marketing, generalists are valued more than specialists. Here’s why: Agile marketing is all about prioritizing the highest value work and getting it done. 

The change in focus highlights the difference from keeping individuals utilized to creating a team that can deliver the most valuable thing when its needed.

Let’s say that the highest priority for the team is to add a landing page to the website for a special event. The project might require a graphic designer, software developer, copywriter and editor all working on the landing page.

Now let’s say the graphic designer is finished with her piece, but the work isn’t considered done until it’s usable and in the hands of customers. If the graphic designer is willing to help with some of the writing, coding or editing, this keeps the team focused on the most valuable work rather than just keeping someone busy.

This isn’t to say that the graphic designer needs to be experts in all of these areas – her craft will always be her core skill. However, if she knows enough to assist in other areas it’s a win-win for everyone.

So as you are thinking about your career in 2020, see if there are other skills that you want to learn that could benefit your team and the work being done.

What to work on will be generated from teams, not ordered from above

For many decades, marketers waited for directives on what to work on and how to work. They were given very detailed requirements or creative briefs. In 2020, we’re going to see more and more marketers at all levels being empowered to generate campaign ideas.

This is great news for marketers because it means you’re no longer the McDonald’s order takers of your marketing department! Management will come to you less and less and say, “I need a 10 piece chicken nugget, small fries and a drink.” Instead, it will be more like, “I need something for lunch, what can you offer me?”

In agile marketing, a lot of teams have a marketing owner that triages all requests from stakeholders and decides what is the highest priority. But the marketing owner doesn’t come to the team with directives on how to get work done – there’s a fine line of ownership. The marketing owner owns “what” is needed and the marketing team owns “how” we’re going to accomplish the work.

The marketing owner may come to the team with a request from the customer’s perspective, like a parent wanting to compare the best college options based on their kid’s interest in one click.

So the team may decide to build a dashboard, or an app, or maybe a game. In 2020, the people actually doing the work will become more empowered than ever before to use their creativity and experiment to learn how best to meet marketing objectives.

It’s going to be a great year for marketers in 2020, I can just feel it! It’s so exciting that we will become more flexible, adaptable and agile.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

How agile adoption will change the way we work in 2020 2

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”





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