What Makes an Agile Marketer?
As you’ll have gathered, Agile Marketing is a very different beast to traditional marketing. It therefore requires a different breed of marketer who can operate in a different kind of team environment with different structures, different dynamics, and different relationships to leadership. Agile Marketing is fundamentally based on empowering individuals and fostering productive interactions between them. As you look to hire or build out your Agile Marketing team, it’s important to understand the particular characteristics of an Agile Marketer. As with any group there are going to be variations, but the following traits are core to what makes an Agile Marketer successful:
T-shaped people have specialist skills or expertise that they go deep with - the vertical trunk of the T, but also a breadth of knowledge to enable them to help with tasks beyond their specialisms - the horizontal bar of the T. Critically, they’re willing and able to go broad and pitch in with what the rest of the team does.
T-shaped marketers are especially important for creating self-sufficient, cross-functional teams which are key to operating in an Agile manner. You need people to be able to work on a wide range of tasks to be able to maintain the flow of work. No one on an Agile Marketing team sits around waiting for work to be handed to them. They take ownership and pull work from the prioritised list (i.e. backlog or kanban board). Being T-shaped means they have the flexibility to pull work in without having to look for things that match their specific specialism, which may be much lower down the priority. Handling many different kinds of tasks across different stages of the workflow means the whole team operates at a higher level of utilisation and productivity.
McKinsey refer to T-shaped marketers as "whole-brain talent" - individuals within cross functional Agile teams who at least understand conceptually what everybody else does and how both marketing and technology functions operate. They're noticing that the newer generation of talent has some of that whole-brain capability natively, having grown up in an age of disruption and innovation.
"Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win."
Given the need to work across marketing disciplines means Agile Marketers must be able to adapt. Having a diverse skill set doesn’t help if you can’t see its applications. They need to be versatile so they can apply their skills and expertise in a multitude of situations, moving from one environment to another with minimal disruption to their output.
Agile Marketers are your definitive internal entrepreneurs. They don’t expect their work to be dictated to them but instead constantly look for ways to add value and improve performance. They take initiative for forming new campaigns, projects and ideas to meet the desired outcomes of the business. And they delight in inventing new ways to deliver results.
For the Agile Marketer, it’s all about the team. They balance their entrepreneurial approach with a team mindset, always looking at how the team as a whole can be successful. Agile isn’t about heroics with individual superhuman efforts being needed to meet deadlines or save the day. Everyone realises that it’s a collective endeavour where the team works as a unit to drive continual progress.
Committed to Excellence
Agile means producing more in less time but NOT to the detriment of quality. It’s absolutely not about delivering average. Adopting Agile Marketing is a way to deliver better, more impactful, engaging and effective marketing. Agile Marketers commit to doing the best work they can. That doesn’t mean absolutely 100% perfect all the time. Rather, Agile Marketers will find a way to do the best possible work in the time available to them.
This isn't to say that traditional marketers can't become Agile, but they need to change their perspectives, attitudes and beliefs to be able to operate with true Agility.