Practice Lead: Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator 

A Practice Lead ensures that an agile team has the skills, tools and assets it needs to be effective.



Today we’ll dive into the Practice Lead role. This is one that’s unique to marketing and you won’t hear this term in other agile frameworks. Here’s how we describe this role in the Agile Marketing Navigator:


“This role consists of leaders of functional departments. In agile marketing, their role changes significantly. They no longer manage their employees’ day-to-day work, but instead lead the functional area to achieve optimal quality and best practices through a Center of Excellence that services all of the agile marketing teams.”


Why did we add a new role?


We’ve added the role of Practice Lead to this framework because so often in Scrum or other agile ways of working, everyone assumes that agile is only for the team that’s delivering Marketing work. If we look at agile from a wider lens, it’s about culture change and mindset shifts. In order to be successful at those, everyone in the organization needs to understand that they are part of the change.


How is a Practice Lead different from a manager?


Since the agile role of Practice Lead is someone who is likely a manager, how are these roles different? The role doesn’t change whatever corporate job responsibilities or titles that this role has — but how they interact with their direct reports that are working on an agile team does change.


The most significant change is that agile teams don’t get work direction from their manager, which is often a key responsibility. Instead of assigning work, a Practice Lead should focus on enabling their team members to do their job effectively.


The concept is a lot like the difference between a manager and a leader. A manager gets into how the sausage is made, whereas a leader helps provide skills and mentorship so that others can make the sausage more effectively.


Key responsibilities of a Practice Lead


While the key responsibilities could vary quite a bit from company to company, some things to be thinking about as a Practice Lead who has direct reports on an agile team are:



  • Do team members have access to the latest tools and technology to perform their job?
  • Is there a repository of assets that can be used across teams (design assets, content, etc)?
  • Are my employees working across teams and able to share best practices and learnings with each other?
  • Are quality standards understood and followed across all teams?
  • Do team members have a way to grow their skills or expand their knowledge?

Letting go of control


One of the hardest things about being a Practice Lead is letting go of command and control ways of working. A Practice Lead should get comfortable with failure and encourage their employees to work out-of-the-box with courage. 


The biggest thing you can do to be successful in this role is to trust your people. They need to be trusted to do the right thing, and if they don’t, to learn from their mistakes. 


It’s your responsibility to set guidelines of what success looks like and provide encouragement. If the people you employ continually fail to meet your expectations, they may not be a good fit for an agile team or you may not be setting them up for success. In either case, trust is a must to succeed with agile marketing.


Establishing a Community of Practice


A Community of Practice is a great way to gain alignment for employees that work across teams. As a Practice Lead, a key role would be to start and maintain a Community of Practice. This is a group of everyone within a common discipline, such as graphic design, that work together and collaborate around the best tools, skills, assets and more.


A Community of Practice is often run like an agile marketing team, prioritizing needs into a backlog and working together to accomplish common goals. As a Practice Lead, you would be responsible for prioritizing the needs of the practice and keeping it going. However, you become more of a facilitator than a boss in this way of working, soliciting input and partnership from everyone in the practice.


We hope that you find the role of Practice Lead helpful as you navigate your agile marketing journey.



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About The Author










Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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