Since my previous article within this series [1], I am thinking through the Why Agile in Marketing even more. In my other article series Millennial Organisational Concepts I write about new concepts for organisations and for this article I see a blend coming along – there is no future for the software developer or marketeer anymore.
What will we do in the future? Will software developers still exist in the future? Or are we all just marketeers? Or even smarketeers (sales marketing)?

I state: neither both of those labels will exist anymore. Why? Because we will all be one.

To drop some statements:

Kill your silo-thinking!
People over Experience over Products over Projects!
#noprojects [2]

Recap

Let us recap why this whole Agile movement has started in the late 80s beginning of 90s in software development. Because of the fact that most of the software projects back then failed and unfortunately still do – even if there is a positive trend we are on, fortunately.

And why was/is that?

The Unpredictability of Requirements

Micheal Krigsman, CEO of Asuret and Cambridge Publications stated this in his 2009 posted blog: “According to new research, success in 68 percent of technology projects is “improbable”. Poor requirements analysis causes many of these failures, meaning projects are doomed right from the start.” [3]

Communication Complexity [4]

And why is requirement analysis been poor and always will be to a certain percentage?

  • In my opinion it’s based on a few key parameters:
  • The Communication Complexity we create when working with too many people [4] – language (written and spoken) is too limited to fully express ourselves
  • The Complex Domain IT needs to find solutions and make decisions in [5]
  • The Silo Effect most enterprise organisations face, mostly because of growth pain and strategically wrong organisational decisions [6]
  • The fact that we simply aren’t able to correctly predict how the world will look like tomorrow, but we are abel to adapt to insights we gained by our yesterday’s learnings [7]
  • “In building business software requirements changes are the norm, the question is what we do about it.” Martin Fowler [7]

The need for the multidisciplinary mindset

Not only within IT but also within other teams like e.g. in health care. The need to start thinking and acting multidiscplinary is there.

Back in 2007, when I started working as a Software Engineer and still am very greatful to the team back then. Because I might experience the power of gaining a multidisciplinary mindset.

US Human Resources for Health published in a study in 2013 [8] which cleary shows that “Interdisciplinary team work is increasingly prevalent, supported by policies and practices that bring care closer to the patient and challenge traditional professional boundaries.”

Isn’t is all about bringing your product or service closer to your customers? Customer-centric thinking? Wouldn’t that mean we all should overcome our labels, function titles etc. and start working together and finding out what our clients/customer want?

The most interesting result for my from that study is the following:

Characteristics of a “good team” as identified by team members:

  1. Good communication
  2. Respecting/Understanding roles
  3. Appropriate skill matrix
  4. Quality and outcomes of care
  5. Appropriate team processes
  6. Clear vision
  7. Flexibility (of the team and the individuals within it)
  8. Leadership and management
  9. Team culture: camaraderie and team support/relationsships
  10. Training and developing opportunities
  11. External image of the service
  12. Personal attributes
  13. Individual rewards and opportunity

And the competencies of an interdisciplinary team:

  1. Identifies a leader who establishes a clear direction and vision for the team, while listening and providing support and supervision to the team members.
  2. Incorporates a set of values that clearly provide direction for the team’s service provision; these values should be visible and consistently portrayed.
  3. Demonstrates a team culture and interdisciplinary atmosphere of trust where contributions are valued and consensus is fostered.
  4. Ensures appropriate processes and infrastructures are in place to uphold the vision of the service (for example, referral criteria, communications infrastructure).
  5. Provides quality patient-focused services with documented outcomes; utilizes feedback to improve the quality of care.
  6. Utilizes communication strategies that promote intra-team communication, collaborative decision-making and effective team processes.
  7. Provides sufficient team staffing to integrate an appropriate mix of skills, competencies, and personalities to meet the needs of patients and enhance smooth functioning.
  8. Facilitates recruitment of staff who demonstrate interdisciplinary competencies including team functioning, collaborative leadership, communication, and sufficient professional knowledge and experience.
  9. Promotes role interdependence while respecting individual roles and autonomy.
  10. Facilitates personal development through appropriate training, rewards, recognition, and opportunities for career development.

Start building the right thing – use your interdisciplinary team competenties to find our what the right thing is.

Marketing must be part of your Agile team. And Software Developers must be part of your marketing team too (if it is not the case already).

To get to know what our customers would want or even better would invest into, market validation should become our thinking DNA. The faster we can gain those insights the better.

The Lean Startup approach can help us.

Eric Ries published in 2011 his bestselling book [9] and described a movement starting at that time with a high market validation focus. One of the principles is Validated Learning and experimentation to learn from customers and markets as fast as possible.(see picture).

As Eric’s approach focuses on Startups, the recently published extension approach of Hanneke Giels [11] delivers an extention and integrates other approaches which gives more hands-on practices – even if it looks more complicated. 😉

It is hardly possible to validate your learnings and do that fast though if we stay holding that titles and departments.

What we need is products and services people want, that are made in a fairtrade manner, contribute to the society and healthy people creating them. So, it’s all in our own hands.

In my opinion it is our own personal responsibility to

  • Invest in better communication
  • Save our energy and creativity for the most valuable type of work and what we are passionate about
  • Know what our clients/customers really want
  • And kill our labels

Summary

We won’t have marketeers and software developers in the future anymore.

Marketing is growing closer and closer to Software Development. With Agile development frameworks and approaches like The Lean Startup, labels and titles are useless.

Roles and responsibilities are useful.

And interdisciplinary teams are the new status quo in validated learning about customer and market needs incl. developing new product and services. Personal development shall focus on communication skills. It’s all in our own hands.

References

[1] Annika Wetzko, Agile Marketing – Why considering the adaption of IT management frameworks, http://annikawetzko.blogspot.com/2016/12/agile-marketing-why-considering.html

[2] #noprojects, https://www.infoq.com/articles/noprojects1-projects-flawed

[3] Micheal Krigsman, Study: 68 percent of IT projects fail,  http://www.zdnet.com/article/study-68-percent-of-it-projects-fail/

[4] https://stackoverflow.com/questions/984885/how-do-i-explain-the-overhead-of-communication-between-developers-in-a-team

[5] The Cynefin Framework, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7oz366X0-8 and https://hbr.org/2007/11/a-leaders-framework-for-decision-making

[6] Gillian Tett, The Silo Effect, Simon & Schuster, 2016

[7] Martin Fowler, New Methodology, https://www.martinfowler.com/articles/newMethodology.html

[8] Ten principles of good interdisciplinary team work https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662612/

[9] Eric Ries, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, 2011

[10] http://theleanstartup.com/principles

[11] Hanneke Giels, Lean Startup https://www.prowareness.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Whitepaper-Lean-Startup-Prowareness.pdf

Multidisciplinary team players are the new Superheroes

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