trisca scott-branagan anz b2b marketing Marketorium agile leadership deakin university

The agile way to slash corporate clutter and get results

Agile marketing works but only when leaders put the right change elements in place, says ANZ’s Trisca Scott-Branagan.

“Change is hard – we’ve all got scars,” said Trisca Scott-Branagan, ANZ’s Head of Marketing, Institutional. “Sometimes we start in the wrong place.”

The former executive director of marketing at Deakin University was talking about the changes teams need to make to move from traditional to “agile” work practices. She is in the process of converting her team at ANZ Institutional to agile ways of working after helping initiate the practice three years ago at Deakin, Australia’s largest provider of online education. (Other ANZ divisions have gone agile already.)

Originally developed by global software firms, agile redefines how teams operate. It’s how more B2B businesses are organising their marketing teams to use nimble processes to deliver the products and services their audiences require quickly and efficiently. Cross-functional staff come together to complete tasks, slashing through corporate bureaucracy and time-wasting while making tweaks and analysing results in real time.

According to Scott-Branagan, agile marketing isn’t for the fainthearted. Neither is it a strategy in itself. “It’s just how you’re going to execute,” she told the audience at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum in Sydney. “But there’s not one answer for everyone and not everyone will get it right.”

The agile marketing journey

Introduced to the practice through necessity, Scott-Branagan has become one of agile marketing’s highest-profile champions. Her Deakin experience is a beacon for those who believe in agile’s ability to deliver measurable results.

“When I looked at our processes [at Deakin], what I found horrified me,” she said. “We had a 160-step process from concept to implementation. It would take us six months to get a great idea into the market … at best. Clearly, we had a lot of squeaky wheels.”

Matters came to a head when Scott-Branagan realised her 90-strong team needed to deliver four major projects in the same business week. They had just two months to achieve these results.

trisca scott-branagan anz b2b marketing Marketorium agile leadership“That’s when the most incredible thing happened,” she said. “We’d built up new capabilities into the team, and that meant bringing some people in from agencies. Those people came with some fantastic experience – the experience of working in an agile fashion.”

“In agile it’s the workers who scope the work, not the managers. We have to fundamentally change and shift the way we think about change, from the top down.”

She said the Deakin marketing staff decided they needed to do something radical if they were going to deliver these big concurrent projects on time. They cleared the furniture from a room, bought a box of sticky notes and mapped out exactly what they needed to do. “Every individual person – not the managers, the workers themselves – wrote on a Post-It note what they needed to get done,” she said.

The marketing team arranged the sticky notes under three columns – “to be done”, “doing” and “done”. “As the weeks went on, and everyone got together in this room every morning at 9am, each Post-It note was moved to ‘doing’ or ‘done’,” she said. “When it moved to the ‘done’, everyone applauded. There was a sense of amazing satisfaction.

“All of those four projects went to market as planned, and the results were astronomical – double-digit growth on the metrics we were measuring.”

The art of change

Scott-Branagan said the successful roll-outs motivated many in the team to apply agile to everything they did, but they faced challenges. Some didn’t feel confident agile could be used in all situations, and team members often used different terms to explain the same thing. Anyone familiar with agile knows it has created a new business language; advocates use terms such as “scrums”, “roadmaps”, “kanbans” and “sprints” to describe how their teams operate.

“[Another issue] was not having people in the room to do the physical cards, so we started experimenting with other tools,” she said. “The favourite one became [productivity software] Trello. The one we use at ANZ is Jira because we’ve already had that approved in the system. We’ll just need to work out which bits are relevant to us.”

Scott-Branagan told B2B Marketing Leaders Forum delegates that successful change management is at the heart of any move to agile marketing. Managers can only effect change, she said, when four business elements come together – culture, roles, processes and tools.

“Sometimes we start by talking about tools, technology and processes, but if we’re really clear about wanting to effect change, we need to put more energy into thinking about culture and roles,” she said. “[It’s] the language we use, how we interact with each other.

“In agile it’s the workers who scope the work, not the managers. We have to fundamentally change and shift the way we think about change, from the top down.”

Scott-Branagan said moving to agile was a “game-changer” at Deakin. “First, the intent was to reduce the strain of email and meetings,” she said. “It also led to greater empowerment and a sense of personal achievement in the team and individuals.

“It was really meaningful. People knew and understood what people were doing in the division that previously they hadn’t. They were starting to see the value of what others were contributing, and the sense of collaboration was enormous.”

Situational awareness

Now committed to bringing agile methods to her marketing team at ANZ Institutional, Scott-Branagan says success is much more likely when teams apply the most appropriate principles and behaviours for them.

“Agile isn’t about stand-ups and kanbans,” she says. “It’s about a set of principles and behaviours, initially set out for us in the Agile Manifesto. How we bring these principles and behaviours to life really depends on the situation.”

She has found agile principles and behaviours work best when there are more interdependencies between team members. "During my time at Deakin University,” she says, "there were marketing teams that relied extensively on each other to deliver work, so we saw instant efficiency and collaboration gains from applying particular agile methodologies. Now, at ANZ, I’ve found there are greater interdependencies between members of the marketing team and our business stakeholders, and fewer interdependencies between individual team members.

“The key to success and creating change is empowering staff to embrace new ways of working that makes the most sense to them.”

“Because of this, we're using different approaches to bring the marketing team together in a way that is meaningful and helpful to them, and starting to explore ways we can more fully engage with our business stakeholders in the development and delivery of our marketing strategies and plans.”

As she did at Deakin, Scott-Branagan is using training organisation AgencyAgile to help prepare ANZ staff.

“The key to success and creating change is empowering staff to embrace new ways of working that makes the most sense to them,” she says. “Through this approach, I've been absolutely delighted to observe how my team has embraced and adapted different methodologies into the work we do, and really proud of how this has generated greater energy and engagement towards their work and each other.”

B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC events will be held in Sydney, Singapore and Melbourne in 2019. See here for more information.

Photo: Deakin University team road mapping

Further reading: 5 steps to designing a successful change management program