I have just started to read a big book. A very big book. Avinash Kaushik‘s Web Analytics 2.0 and i must admit i am hooked! I am not entirely sure how i have become quite so interested in the frameworks, mechanics and methodologies of disseminating metrics to acquire valuable insights for businesses and decision making but i have. “Who would have thought?” as my mother might say! As suggested in my previous post What is Agile Marketing, the ability for teams to quickly and confidently alter course based on real data drives us to improve on failure; over and over and over. I think it is this attitude toward a continual state of team learning that makes us all lean a ‘little bit analytical’ these days.
Now I have only read the first few chapters but one thing that has struck a chord with me already is that one (or a business) can be armed with all the tools under the sun and yet still fail to deliver on changing those frameworks, mechanics and methodologies that I have alluded to earlier in this post. If you cannot instil a change of ‘mindset’ (or will) in your customers or colleagues then you are doomed to the status quo. This is the power of leadership i suppose, and perhaps from where the coined term “thought leadership’ has emerged. Emergent internal team leaders, business leaders and businesses themselves have to be able to take colleagues, team members and customers in directions which were not immediately obvious or comfortable, physically and emotionally.
So this got me thinking about the process of altering mindsets, and how one might go about this. As a business leader myself (a co-founder of Movebubble) I am tasked with changing the mindsets of those looking to move house around the world. It is my role to push, position and illustrate an alternative method to achieve the same goals. With this new venture we are taking on an old, heavy and wealthy adversary; an adversary with real authority and ‘apparent’ knowledge. And in the mind of the prospect, this is the ‘status quo’, the way things are done… unless we can change that.
Daniel Kahneman has written of something called the Theory Induced Blindness in the acclaimed Thinking Fast and Slow, in which individuals are blinded to an obvious truth (albeit in hindsight) simply because of an official and generally accepted theory stating otherwise. People seem unable or unwilling to challenge it. In particular he talks of Daniel Bernoulli’s theory of economic utility, in which an individuals’ utility (or happiness) can be easily calculated based on wealth (see the graph to illustrate this below).
Kahneman goes onto to argue that this is in actual fact not entirely true, and that it does not take into consideration where you have come from, i.e. your relative starting position of wealth. I would also add into this that people don’t act rationally most of the time which is one of foundations of economic utility theory. Kahneman introduces the Prospect Theory, which does take into consideration the relative starting position to calculate utility.
“Well that obvious Logan!” I hear you shout.
My point is that for approximately 200 years, scholars, intellectuals and other economists believed Bernouilli’s theory was true almost without question, because it was an official theory. And the longer it went unchallenged the more official it became. They themselves had Theory Induced Blindness.
It reminds me, in part, of the Milgram experiment, where subjects of a psychology test were asked to administer potentially lethal electrical shocks to other volunteer subjects, simply because they were being told to do so by authoritative people in white official clothing. This recurrence of an ‘official line’ seems to be important in making people act irrationally. Our societies and cultures are shaped by our anthropological background as a species, and hasinstilled a sense of respect for authority, which we perhaps feel uncomfortable in challenging.
I work in the Real Estate and Technology Sector (Realtech) therefore I am able to comment on this sector more ably than any other. It feels to me, that the Real Estate and Private Residential Lettings market has Theory Induced Blindness, or as i am going to call it Business Model Induced Blindness. People are unwilling to (or have not to date) look outside the current models in play; but once they do the alternative will seem to have been so apparent;
“Why has this not existed before?”
is a common statement that i come across in my daily work life. This implies to me that this alternative ‘unagency’ or ‘customer collaborative’ model (as being used by my company) is, in hindsight, so obvious.
Even Mark Earls, author of Herd (officially one of my favourite books on ‘group think’ and ‘herd mentality’) talks about this power of authority, and how people are willing to listen to, trust and undertake tasks given to them because the ‘giver’ is an authoritative looking figure. Perhaps this is why Real Estate agents and brokers wear suits and drive fancy cars. I am sure that web developers with hoodies and beards instills less authority!
So, i am finally getting to my point, in that we can enact change in the market place, in any market place as entrepreneurs and startups by taking real positive action. It is up to us to be authoritative, perhaps even in areas where no one has authority. I am beginning understand that this leadership, whether of the tangible or thought variety, is the key to altering the mindset of colleagues and customers. Firm, consistent and constant messaging and communication thereof is the key to moving people into a new mindset or way of thinking.
This might perhaps sound obvious. Drone on and on about your ideas and eventually people will follow… no no not at all. You miss my point. One has to become an authority on that subject, find the knowledge that is not common, and share with the world. People won’t always like what you have to say, in particular the incumbents, but be sure to shout loud and clear from the digital rooftops that you really do know what you are talking about and that people should follow. Be willing to learn that knowledge with your customers, and even your competitors. Because if you are truly going where no one has gone before as an entrepreneur then knowledge on that subject will be few and far between. It is up to you to find, and communicate this through your comms and content strategies.
Thought leadership is a state of mind, and it begins with you…
Agile is the new buzz word in the business world, being first established in the software development world to tackle a set of unpredictable and moving requirements. Eric Ries, amongst many others, was one of the first to talk openly about the principles of the Lean Startup and Agile Methodologies where optimising the performance of a website or piece of software was the primary focus. This is where the term Conversion Rate Optimisation has come from, or Growth Hacking to use the contemporary terminology.
I believe that these very same principles of test often, fail often, learn always are paramount as we move into a faster and far more dynamic world in terms of both customer expectations and the competitive landscape. I believe that we are able to focus on the reallocation of resources within marketing in the very same way, and move away from the stale, rigid and risky waterfall management framework and into the fast, ‘boxer like’ world of SCRUM.
In short Agile Marketing is comprised of short sprints, that occur anywhere between 7 and 30 days. These micro campaigns consist of pre-defined stages, that in turn feed the direction of marketing strategy and vision. A brilliant piece to read, is the SCRUM reference card that highlights the details of this way of thinking. I have amended the defined Sprint stages so that they are more relevant to the responsibilities of marketing, in my humble opinion.
SCRUM teams get together at the beginning of each sprint or micro-campaign to break down larger goals into smaller tasks. The team then chooses and allocates tasks, roles and responsibility to members. Each team member accepts the tasks, in the genuine understanding that they are achievable in the sprint.
The layout of the SCRUM will be as follows:
This stage will enable team members the autonomy to work on their own, and collaborate accordingly to deliver on their own responsibilities. Team members will look use personal knowledge, research and data available from previous iteration cycles to develop campaign and marketing assets that will deliver on the KPIs identified.
So as to minimize risks of customer facing content the following ‘have I done this checklist’ should be used by each team member:
1. Have I read this word for word, slowly to make sure that it reads correctly?
2. Have I read this backwards to make sure that there are no obvious spelling errors.
3. Have I run this piece of content through a Microsoft word spell checker?
4. Has another person read this before I pull the trigger?
5. Am I willing to put my reputation against this piece of content?
6. Only when the answer to all those above is YES, then you can deploy.
This checklist format comes from Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto, which i would encourage everyone on this blog to read.
Mid sprint SCRUM Review meetings will be encouraged, where team members are to demonstrate finished materials (or at key iterations) for feedback from interested team members. This offers an opportunity for outside people, customers or potential customers to offer feedback. This will offer iterative feedback on material and campaigns enabling a value driven approach
In this stage, seeding teams will take the assets and distribute across previously identified channels so as to gain maximum exposure for the brand. Teams are also responsible for answering any questions online and via social media, or taking any feedback and gathering it for the next SCRUM meeting.
This is an important (and continual process) of social listening and communication. It ensures that all team members are on relevant social media and engaging in associated conversations about the material, products, services and company.
In this stage of the iteration cycle team members will collect the data of relevant KPIs so that ROI can be gauged. Assumptions should be made from this information, and attempts at insight are encouraged.
Decisions should be made for future iteration cycles in preparation for the next SCRUM.
I think it apt to state that all team members should get aligned with real metrics, and leave the ‘gut instincts’ at the door.
Each sprint will end with a retrospective meeting where the team can reflect on its own process, and are able to take action to make future sprints better.
The main aim of these meetings is to expose organizational and team impediments. It is important that this time is a free and open environment to positively critique team and individual performance. This is not a time for the blame game, rather for personal learning, mentorship and improvement.
So this is, in short my breakdown of the Agile Methodologies into something ‘chewable’ for marketers. I could be wrong, but hey, i am happy to amend my view dependant on the results. Challenge me.. please.
I look forward to your comments.