History of Agile Marketing Scrum

The history of Scrum dates back to a Harvard Business Review article published 1986. Professors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka co-published “The New New Product Development Game”. Which was the outcome of their research into successful high performance teams in companies like 3M, Honda and Hewlett-Packard. In the article they explained how teamwork and processes adopted a rugby approach. They highlighted the importance of  speed and flexibility in a fast-paced environment. which they felt the only way to introduce creativity and innovation to rigid organisations. The ideas in the article were then adapted for software teams by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. In summary, Scrum started in product marketing and was then adapted to software teams.

Marketing teams looking to adopt Agile must adapt it to the context of marketing and not rely on  how it works in IT. This is why it is important that you read the 1986 article titled “The New New Product Development Game”. Then you can read the original Scrum-guide with the awareness of applying it in the context of marketing.

What is Scrum for Marketing?

Scrum is often defined by the the Scrum guide as having been developed by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, but the downside to this is that the Scrum Guide targets IT software teams, not marketing teams. Scrum for marketing teams links back to its origin in product marketing before IT.

It is important to understand the difference between Scrum for IT and Marketing. Scrum in IT software team is project-focused and aims to deliver working software at the end of the sprint. Scrum for marketing teams is an ongoing process that does not deliver software, or (oftentimes) even a tangible product.

Scrum in IT software teams has improved productivity, communication and flexibility. Marketing teams can adopt a similar process to increase their speed and flexibility. Scrum for marketing teams is adapting the Scrum guide to the context of marketing teams, while also applying the concepts from “The New New Product Development Game”.

Adapting the Scrum Guide for Marketing

We recommend downloading the Scrum Guide which is available on www.scrumguides.org. Read through it with an awareness that it was not created for marketing, although some of the practices might be applicable. Some of the processes in the Scrum guide will almost instantly improve communication and collaboration. This is possible because Scrum encourages the following:

Accountability: Scrum in the context of IT defines team roles with associated responsibilities: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development Team. In the context of marketing, how you choose to apply this will depend on your team’s structure and culture. Contact us if you need help with applying Scrum to your marketing team.

Communication: Scrum for IT advocated for collocated teams in combination with regular meetings like Daily Standup, Sprint Planning, and Retrospectives. Teams comprise of 3-9 individuals which foster teamwork and collaboration. How you choose to structure your marketing team will depend on the geo-distribution of the team. Having a mix of collocated and distributed teams can certainly complicate things, but we can help.

Cross-functional: Scrum in IT advocates for teams comprised of individuals with all the required skills. This creates the possibility of self-organisation because team dependencies are low. Applying this in the context of marketing will be  different because of marketing teams inherent dependencies. We can partner with you to create high performance, cross-functional teams.

Process: Scrum teams in IT plan and execute tasks in batches called sprints. This is different from the rigid waterfall model because the team iterates on its plans and tasks. Marketing team working in sprints is debatable and optional, in our opinion. Contact us for consultation on how to apply Scrum to marketing.

Purpose of Scrum for Marketing

Customers today are more empowered and have access to information through many channels. Consumers have become more self-aware than before and immune to marketing gimmicks. They seek authentic and genuine interactions with brands that matter to them. With the increasing and unprecedented rate at which customers perceptions and expectations change, what purpose will Scrum play in helping marketing teams? We recommend visualising the purpose of Scrum from different perspectives.

The Scrum Guide Perspective

Transparency: Activities and practices in Scrum encourage visibility of tasks and goals, which fosters a culture of open information flow across stakeholders and teams. Needless to say, this increases collaboration, teamwork and participatory decision making.

Inspection: The Scrum process creates inspection checkpoints at the end of every sprint. Activities like Sprint demos, reviews and retrospectives allow for inspection. Are we on track and meeting agreed team goals? This is one of the important purposes of the Scrum framework.

Adaptation: Based on the outcome of the built-in inspection activities, teams can re-prioritize the agreed tasks.  We can help you become Agile in marketing if you contact us.

The Benefits of Agile Scrum Marketing

There are many benefits of Agile Scrum marketing, such as:

Speed and flexibility: Being able to move fast and with ease is what Agile means. Large, established companies are being disrupted by much smaller startups. This is possible because large companies have rigid and slow bureaucratic processes, while startups have the advantage of being Agile because of their size and structure. One of the main benefits of Agile Scrum Marketing is the speed and flexibility it enables. It helps marketing teams adapt quickly to changing customer behaviour and market trends.

Stability: Agile marketing teams are set up to work like startups, based on iterations. Each team consists of specialists whose skills complement one another’s. This enables a stable flow of work because of the competence level of the team. Another reason why Agile teams are stable is due to the close interactions across the team, which encourage increased communication and collaboration.

Some other benefits of  Agile Marketing Scrum are that it:

  1. Increases Productivity.
  2. Reduces Waste.
  3. Enables Alignment.
  4. Foster Strategic Visibility.
  5. Promotes Psychological Safety.