What would be possible for our companies if we moved as nimbly and rapidly as we are now to develop new revenue streams after COVID-19 is long past us? Could we launch innovations far more quickly? Could we let go of perfection as a go-to-market minimum and simply launch a minimally viable product to the market for reaction before investing weeks and months getting it just right?
If we can do this in the middle of a healthcare crisis, what are we really capable of during more stable times? And how do we maintain the momentum? The answer is agile innovation.
Outside of a crisis, human beings are generally wired to struggle with change. There has been much study over the years about the psychology of change, our natural resistance to it and how to navigate through it. Being able to embrace change when it is foreign to you is like breaking a bad addiction — an addiction to routine and complacency.
Fortunately, agile innovation is simply a process that, when consistently deployed, can become muscle memory like anything else.
Creating a culture of agile innovation begins with an understanding of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, penned in 2001 by a group of forward-thinking software developers under the moniker of Agile Alliance.
They were seeking an alternative to the long-standing software development processes which they saw as overly complex, unresponsive and far too focused on documentation. While this manifesto was created with software development in mind, forward-thinking companies across the globe are creating agile teams across their organizations — far beyond the confines of IT. In fact, for some companies, agile is a way of life.
The most critical elements of the Manifesto include its core values and operating principles. These have been adapted below — by www.agilemarketing.net — to apply specifically to innovation in the marketing space.
Agile Marketing Values
- Responding to change over following a plan
- Rapid iterations over single-launch, big campaigns
- Testing and data over opinions and conventions
- Many small experiments over a few large bets
- Test and pivot versus perfection and fear of failure
- Individuals and interactions over one-size-fits-all
- Collaboration over silos and hierarchy
Agile Marketing Operating Principles
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of marketing that solves problems and creates value.
- We welcome and plan for change. We believe that our ability to quickly respond to change is a source of competitive advantage.
- We deliver marketing programs often, from every couple of weeks to every two months, with a preference to the shorter timeline.
- Great marketing requires close alignment with business leadership and sales.
- Motivated individuals build great marketing programs. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- Learning, through the build-measure-learn feedback loop, is the primary measure of progress.
- Sustainable marketing requires you to keep a constant pace and pipeline.
- Don’t be afraid to fail; just don’t fail the same way twice.
- Continuous attention to marketing fundamentals and good design enhances agility.
Simplicity is essential.
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely been adopting some of these agile principles in light of the pandemic. The question is: how we do we continue to replicate and systematize this rapid-fire approach to innovation — especially as it relates to your marketing strategy — when we aren’t in the middle of a crisis and forced to do so? For that, let’s explore the Agile marketing process.
Agile marketers follow a process — dubbed scrum (originally a rugby term) — which is designed to improve (1) communication within the marketing team and among other internal teams, (2) alignment of marketing strategies with the larger business goals and (3) the responsiveness of marketing to the changing market and customer expectations.
This process is iterative — meaning, short marketing test campaigns or projects are deployed with quick measurement and adaptation based on results and marketing conditions. It all starts with a sprint-planning workshop, followed by sprint execution, sprint review and sprint retrospective.