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Agile Marketing and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Lack of Commitment

In my last post, I discussed how the framework from “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni can illustrate how and why adopting Agile Marketing and the scrum process leads to success.  And I drilled-down on the second dysfunction: fear of conflict.

Picking up from that point, let’s look at the third dysfunction: lack of commitment.  This stems directly from the fear of conflict.  And that probably isn’t obvious to a lot of people.  In short, when team members fear conflict, they don’t have meaningful discussion and important issues don’t get resolved.  And most people won’t truly “buy in” to a decision if they feel like they didn’t have input or that their input wasn’t taken seriously.  This leads to some obvious symptoms in team behavior:

  • Ambiguous decisions and goals
  • Analysis paralysis for really important decisions

Why?  Without feeling an issue has been given its due diligence, people only agree in vague terms to ambiguous objectives – anything more specific would’ve required resolving conflicting view points and opinions.  And if the matter at hand is really important, people avoid that like an albatross.  Rather than admit they don’t want to be held accountable for it, they deem it needs more research until the answer becomes incontrovertibly clear to everyone (which rarely happens).

So how does the Agile Marketing philosophy and the scrum process address this dysfunction?

  • Agile Marketers value validated learning over opinions and conventions

That’s straight out of the Agile Marketing Manifesto.  And it’s a wordy way of saying that we try to use data to make decisions because data doesn’t lie.  Obviously, if we have objective metrics to base decisions upon, it eliminates a lot of room for ambiguity.  And as marketing technologies continue to advance, we are finding more and more ways of getting compelling data to use in more and more situations.

  • Scrum requires unambiguous goals for each sprint

When teams go through a sprint planning meeting, the Marketing Owner decides what work to focus on from the marketing backlog.  And the Marketing Owner and the Team discuss the work, particular the definition of “done” and any acceptance criteria.  This means that the team produces a public plan for each sprint that clearly states what work will be the focus of that sprint and what objective criteria that work will be measured by.  If you follow the scrum process, there’s little room for ambiguity there.

  • Scrum requires unambiguous work tasks for each sprint

In that same sprint planning meeting, the Team has to break-down each work item from the backlog into the tasks that individual team members must accomplish before that work item is complete.  And these are broken down such that they can also be estimated in terms of hours of effort.  This means that the same public sprint plan mentioned in the previous point also lists all the detailed activities that the team members will perform that sprint.  Again, if you follow the scrum process, there’s little room for ambiguity there.

  • Scrum requires sprint plans to be public commitments to stakeholders

I intentionally qualified the sprint plans as “public” in the previous points because that’s an important aspect of scrum.  It’s not enough to come up with a detailed plan that the Marketing Owner and Team agree upon – those roles must be committed to that plan enough that they are comfortable sharing that plan with the business stakeholders who care about the work being done. It’s not a secret plan meant to surprise everyone with results at the end of the sprint – it’s a public commitment that the team strives to live up to every day.

Just like last time, I could probably go on and on about this dysfunction and how Agile Marketing philosophy and scrum do a great job of beating it to death.  Hopefully you get the idea.  And if you recognize this dysfunction, you see how adopting Agile Marketing and the scrum process will lead to success.  Of course, we’ve only addressed three of five dysfunctions – next time I’ll discuss “Avoidance of Accountability”.

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