CMG Partners Blog

Beyond Agile Training

Going Agile is more than just Agile training – it’s about mindset and customer value. Over the past several years many forward-thinking organizations have tried to train operating divisions or business units on Agile Marketing processes to move at the speed of today’s markets and customers. While this is a positive step forward, there is a common misconception within organizations that becoming an Agile Marketing organization begins and ends with simple, traditional training exercises focused on the individual.

Unfortunately, experts know that this type of Agile training approach often results in little sustained change in behavior and ultimately indiscernible changes in company performance. This calls into question the return on the training investment and raises other concerns about how to grow the capabilities and performance of an organization and its people more effectively – especially as it pertains to the benefits of becoming an Agile Marketing Organization.

HBR points out the training misconception

In October, 2016 HBR discussed this training misconception in an article entitled “Why Leadership Training Fails—and What to Do About It.” In this article, research conducted by HBR concluded that only one in four senior managers report that training was critical to business outcomes.

Additionally, HBR determined that leaders typically design training with only the individuals in mind and ignore the larger “systems of interacting elements: roles, responsibilities, and relationships that are defined by organizational structure, processes, leadership styles…” If however, these elements are properly addressed during times of change, you can effectively modify organizational behavior and impact performance.

Going Agile is 80% mindset

The need to address these systems of interacting elements is particularly true when it comes to Agile Marketing Organizations because by design, Agile principles fundamentally change the way organizations operate. Agile also heavily relies on a change in mindset, organizational structure and management operating system, in addition to methodology to make it successful.

Many marketing leaders begin their journey with the methodology, underestimating the mindset shifts required to achieve success and yield performance results. There is a belief that at least 80% of being agile is achieved through mindset. Therefore, the real transformation that marketing organizations needs to start with the mindset.  And to make any of it happen, the leadership must be bought in and have the fortitude to affect real change – not just talk to it.

How to effectively implement Agile Marketing training

Leadership must:

1. Align on why the organization needs change and set the strategic imperative

For Agile Marketing Organizations to work, the enterprise must have clarity on what it is trying to achieve with agility, why they are making the change, and a leadership commitment to support the organization in getting there. This requires that marketing leadership is aligned on their key strategic priorities and that they are dedicated to empowering their Agile teams to deliver on these priorities.  Agile is all about keeping teams focused on marketing initiatives that will deliver the most value to their customers which in turn, creates the most value for the organization.

2. Communicate the strategic imperative

Leaders must also ensure that there is clear, consistent direction provided to employees and teams. Effectively communicating shared priorities is key. Leaders need to manage the change by becoming vocal champions and advocates for the adoption of Agile. Without this focus, the transition to become an Agile Marketing Organization will fail.

3. Facilitate organizational buy-in and alignment

97% of employees believe the lack of alignment directly impacts the outcome of any given task or project. For Agile Marketing Organizations to be effective, marketing leadership needs to consider where the important points of alignment are with internal and external stakeholders (sales, product, etc.) and work to build the right level of support and integration. This requires ongoing communication at the marketing leadership level with their peers as well as communication with the Agile teams.

Transforming the Agile Marketing Organization

Transforming into an Agile Marketing Organization takes time, patience, and consistent effort. It requires a high level of support from leadership to enable the change in mindset and operations required to sustain Agile. Leaders should start slowly and manage the process carefully. Effective training and coaching are indeed an important part of operationalizing Agile but in the absence of the right leadership support, the right team structure, and the right processes will ultimately be a wasted effort.

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