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Kanban and Agile Marketing: Why Teams are Getting On Board

Published By Yuval Yeret

One of the reasons I love Kanban so much is that it’s so ubiquitous: The principles and practices are very easily portable between domains. While the Agile Manifesto, for example, is very development-oriented, if you look at Kanban and the Kanban Method you will not find such domain-specific language — making it much easier to apply in other value streams. Read to learn how Kanban can bolster your Agile marketing practices.

What is Agile Marketing?

One value stream where Kanban has been growing in popularity is marketing. In recent years, marketers have been realizing that despite the fact that they’re from Venus and developers are from Mars, so to speak, there’s actually a lot of value in this Agile thing developers have been doing.

Marketing leaders have been realizing that like developers, they too are facing:

  • Growing complexity and uncertainty
  • Accelerating pace of change and competition
  • Crushing workloads that have become unsustainable

As a result of these pressures, some early adopter marketing organizations have started to adopt Agile principles and practices as a way to manage complexity, improve agility and competitiveness, and to visualize their workflows. There’s now an Agile Marketing movement, several active Agile Marketing meetups in marketing hubs such as San Francisco and Boston, and even an Agile Marketing Manifesto.

Kanban in Agile Marketing

Initially, many marketers followed Scrum as a way to practice Agile (as that was the most popular Agile approach being used by their development colleagues at the time).

Recently, there’s a growing popularity of Kanban and Scrumban in the Agile Marketing space. Agile Marketing thought leaders are writing about Kanban and Scrumban. Marketing teams are using digital or physical Kanban boards. It seems as though Kanban is a better fit for the less disciplined and more interruption-driven work of marketing teams.

Common Pitfall for Agile Marketing Teams: Shallow Kanban Implementation

Kanban is also easier to start with than Scrum — almost too easy. That’s part of the problem: Just using a Kanban board isn’t going to solve all your problems, but many teams think that it will.

This common problem is why the Kanban world came up with a Kanban Depth Assessment, which can help teams understand their current Kanban maturity and identify areas to deepen their practice.

Agile Marketing Depth Assessment

Unsurprisingly, shallow implementation of Kanban (and Agile, as well) is a problem for marketing teams. I see too many marketing teams that love managing their work on a Kanban board, but aren’t tapping into the real power of Kanban.

This is why I recently created an Agile Marketing Depth Assessment. I use it when discussing the Agile marketing journey with teams that claim to be practicing Agile marketing, to assess their true maturity and help guide them toward a more mature Agile marketing practice.

The depth assessment is oriented around the values of the Agile Marketing Manifesto, together with some core Lean leadership principles.

Shallow vs. Mature Kanban Implementations in Agile Marketing

View this infographic to learn the differences between shallow and mature Kanban implementation in Agile marketing.

Looking Forward

As more and more marketers are exposed to Agile, we will continue to see new uses and more mature implementations of Kanban in marketing departments. Perhaps they will begin reviewing Lean/Kanban metrics, running data-driven operational reviews, and viewing Kanban as a method for improving operations all the way to the portfolio level.

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Written by Yuval Yeret

Yuval Yeret is a leading Kanban practitioner in the world of enterprise product development and the CTO of AgileSparks, a world leader in Agile support and training services. He is also author of Holy Land Kanban, a long-time Kanban blogger and a recipient of the Kanban community Brickell Key Award.