So you’ve come to the conclusion that there are no eligible candidates to promote from within for the position of agile marketing leader. You’ve done your homework and identified the type of management styles that are compatible with an agile marketing approach, and you’ve given thought to your company’s maturity and organizational structure and their implications for agile leadership. Now you’re ready to start interviewing candidates. What should you ask that will help you identify candidates with the right combination of leadership and agile skills to head your agile marketing effort? Here are four basic questions that can truly help.
1: Describe an initiative that you led that you had doubts about in advance.
The agile approach is designed for situations where no amount of up-front analysis can possibly reveal the factors that will ultimately matter. Here’s what you want to find out about:
- Whether and how the person has run a consistent stream of small experiments to generate data that will show what’s driving results.
- How have they emphasized ongoing programmatic approaches over one-time campaigns?
- Do they “trust the process” of incremental gains even if it can be hard to predict when milestones will be achieved?
- How have they set expectations about the importance of delivering minimum viable products before committing to longer-term-goals.
2: How do you promote specific approaches and methods for getting work done with your team?
Agile leaders align small cross-functional teams with business initiatives. They also actively participate in coaching teams and investing in any training that is needed. You want candidates to address:
- How they prioritize work with their teams—ideally in the context of scoped backlogs? Are they transparent and open?
- How they participate in demos and review the findings from the agile retrospective process.
- Do they carry out strategic planning on a regular basis—at least quarterly–to refactor backlogs with strategic guidance?
3: How do you onboard new marketers?
Even with a focus on recruiting agile experience, or agile-curious marketers, adopting your organization’s flavor of agile is going to be a change for most marketers. A thoughtful onboarding process will help integrate new members into your agile teams. You want candidates to talk about:
- How they worked with HR to develop specific onboarding processes for team members to agile—were there formal training programs, certification, or assigned reading?
- How did they work with team leaders to develop documentation, or presentations that outline the marketing team’s focus and working processes.
- Did they pair new employees with an experienced member of the team to facilitate onboarding? How did that work?
4: How do you cascade strategic planning down through functions and teams?
Agile is an empowerment model that flips the traditional command-and-control model on its ear. It recognizes that the lion’s share of innovation will emerge from a distributed bottom-up process. Thus, agile can’t be segregated from strategic planning. You want to know:
- Whether and how candidates have integrated strategic planning frameworks (such as the objectives and key results framework and backlog development and prioritization.
- Whether and how they’ve managed cross-team dependencies or facilitated the alignment of backlogs across teams.
- How they’ve developed a center-of-excellence or affinity group model to support distributed specialists working on small cross-functional teams.
If you’ve enjoyed this series and are interested in learning more about agile marketing, listen to my book The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience into Your Competitive Advantage.