To create these principles, I took the following into consideration:
- What clients are expecting today (based on what I’m seeing in the industry and from industry reports)
- The original principles from the Agile Manifesto and Lean (distilling them down to what is relevant for the agency environment)
- Deliver valuable work early and often
This first principle is about sharing knowledge and maintaining alignment between your clients and teams. By delivering work early and often to your clients, you shorten your feedback loops. The work doesn’t need to be completely finished or polished, and it wouldn’t be if you’re truly sharing work early and often, but it should be “valuable” in that it should help you and your client get closer to the end goal of your work together. As a few examples, “valuable” work would be work that helps your client make decisions, or helps them keep their stakeholders or other marketing teams informed (especially from a legal or compliance standpoint, if needed), or it creates the opportunity for you to help them realize new priorities or creative directions to consider early in the process before it becomes too costly to change course. This transparency and frequent feedback loop creates a trusting relationship and allows you to push the envelope with your creative work, but with a smaller risk of big revisions and at a lesser cost. Again, it helps you and your client get to your shared end goal faster than you would if you let weeks pass without sharing work.
- Welcome changing requirements in support of your client’s strategic goals
Your clients plan out their priorities and provide direction based on what they know at that time, which is informed by results from their ongoing marketing executions. So as new information surfaces, or as they experience changes in their business, or their market, or perhaps from discoveries you make through your agency’s work, they need the flexibility to be able to change direction if the original plan will no longer achieve their strategic goals. If your agency can provide that level of flexibility in a controlled and managed way, you’ll be helping them maintain or improve their competitive advantage.
- Work as highly collaborative teams
To move with speed, team members need to communicate and work across disciplines throughout a project. Based on the first two principles, we’re accepting that project direction could change, so this principle helps ensure there’s always continued alignment and integration of strategies and tactics across disciplines and deliverables. That all team members always have the latest information and insights to make decisions. And with team members collaborating more closely with other skill sets and hearing their different perspectives and ideas, highly collaborative teams will produce more innovative ideas about how to solve your clients problems.
- Use face-to-face conversation as the most efficient and effective method of communication
Achieving agility is about improving how people communicate with one another and how they work together. There have been some great advancements in project management and collaboration technology, but when it comes to communicating complex, critical or time-sensitive project information, face-to-face communication is always going to be the most efficient and effective method. Too often these important details get overlooked or misinterpreted when shared through tools like email, or Google Chat, or software like WebVantage or other collaboration platforms. So this principle is about remembering that while we’re surrounded by great process, tools and technology, its “people” who will drive success. Bring communication back to basics — design a way of working that promotes in-person or video conversations.
- Design a sustainable workflow, but focus on learning and outcomes as the measure of progress
When team members become stressed under an overwhelming workload or a crunched timeline, your quality of work suffers, as well as employee satisfaction and retention. This principle is about designing a process that enables teams to maintain a constant pace to their work. It’s also about creating a safe place for team members to debate and challenge that process, and to experiment with change to uncover better ways of working. And lastly, it’s about focusing on the outcomes from the process rather than on the process itself. In other words, team members should be focused on results more so than checking boxes because the process told them to do it.
- Practice simplicity, prioritize ruthlessly
This is about prioritization. It’s knowing your clients business and their market really well, and ruthlessly prioritizing all work based on what will provide them with the highest strategic value and produce your target outcomes. There will never be a shortage of good ideas, but you can’t pursue them all. Teams need to regularly prioritize work with clients based on impact vs. effort so that you’re always providing clients with the most value in support of their strategic goals.
- Provide teams with the direction and support they need, and trust them to deliver the intended outcomes
This principle is about creating an environment where traditional agency roles shift. The role of individual creators shifts to become about forming a unified team that works together to define and commit to work, and to determine how it will get done. The role of managers shifts to become about defining outcomes and priorities and supporting the team so they can do their best work. It’s about avoiding micromanagement and devolving decision making to the team so that decisions are made as close as possible to those doing the work, rather than following traditional models where decisions need to be approved by higher-level and less informed layers of management. The latter is time consuming.
- Regularly reflect on quality and performance to improve effectiveness, and adjust accordingly
Teams need a way to measure their performance and effectiveness as a team. They need time to reflect on how well they work together and how they each contribute to moving the team closer to achieving the teams shared goals. This principle is about creating an environment that makes this possible. That means a safe venue where teams can discuss what’s been working well and what they can do better, and to plan for how they will adjust accordingly.
- Pursue perfection
This is about becoming a learning organization through the practice of continuous improvement, which is what is needed because our market will always be evolving. Continuous improvement is how the agency is going to remain competitive, retain clients, decrease costs of doing business, and increase profitability. Everyone in the agency should support the goal of perfection in how the agency delivers services.
|Brian KessmanPresident & Principal ConsultantLodestar Agency Consulting646.489.5229lodestardigital.com|