Waste prevents work getting done in an agile and efficient way. Here’s how to remove it.
We recently introduced you to the Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation.
In recent articles we covered the Collaborative Planning Workshop and the Launch Cycle. Now we’re going to dive into the fifth of our 6 Key Practices: Waste removal.
What is Waste Removal?
If you’ve ever looked inside your closet only to realize that you have a lot of clothes that you haven’t worn in a decade, you’ve got waste. You’re taking up space with something that’s no longer providing value.
Well, the same goes with the way that we work. Oftentimes we’re only doing something because it’s the way we’ve always worked. However, that legacy process may be preventing us from being more agile (just like when we have to sift through 100 sweaters to find the one we’re looking to wear).
In agile marketing, waste removal is about cleaning out our work closets and making room for the practices that truly bring agility and purpose to how we do marketing.
When does Waste Removal happen?
Waste removal can happen by anyone on the team at any point in time and should be on everyone’s minds continuously. Agile is all about continuous, collaborative improvement, and this is one way to demonstrate that.
A specific time when Waste Removal can naturally occur is after measuring Cycle Time. During Cycle Time measurements, the team identifies where slowdowns in the workflow are happening and looks to improve the current process. Actually removing the waste in the process is the next step.
Common places where waste occurs
For many marketing teams, the majority of waste happens in the form of reviews or approvals. There are also unnecessary meetings, work happening outside of the team, or siloed/fractured processes.
Here are some common waste examples:
- Endless rounds of creative reviews.
- Legal approval on every item.
- Managers needing to approve work, but being slow to respond.
- Meetings to plan meetings.
- Dependencies on people outside of the team, such as developers or agencies.
- Overly complex workflows.
Do any of these waste examples sound familiar to you?
Empowering teams to find solutions
While it’s easy and comfortable to say, “That’s the process,” or “It’s not my job to fix this,” agile marketing is all about team ownership, accountability and striving towards solutions to complex problems.
If you’re a leader, how do you encourage your team to take on this type of behavior? It usually starts with giving them permission and space to creatively come up with solutions for new ways of working. It’s taking a step back and letting the team come to you with recommendations rather than the other way around.
Let’s run with the example of endless rounds of creative reviews. The team has identified that it’s a problem. If the team isn’t used to solutioning, you as a leader can help facilitate a brainstorming session, as a leader — but don’t give them the answers. The magic happens when the team comes to leaders with ideas.
Now that the team is in a brainstorming session, have them spend a few minutes identifying why this is a problem. Listen intently as their leader.
They may discover a few things such as:
- The team is frustrated and feeling like they aren’t doing a good job.
- Team members are looking for new jobs.
- Work is never getting done while waiting for perfection.
Next, they’ll ideate on ways to solve the problem. Take five or 10 minutes of silent ideation and have the team write sticky notes or something comparable with an online tool.
Their ideas may look something like this:
- Limit creative reviews to 2 rounds.
- Provide guidance to leaders on objective feedback rather than just personal opinion.
- Get clearly defined outcomes from stakeholders upfront.
- Hold review working sessions to speed up turnaround time.
With these tips in mind, your team will be able to successfully navigate agile marketing and remove wasteful ways of working that aren’t adding value.
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