Process is not the enemy

Process is not the enemy

So you want to be agile? You want to be able to pivot quickly. You want to drop everything and switch tactics at a moment’s notice.

It’s not as easy as it sounds but it is attainable. There are people and companies that put a lot (and I mean A LOT) of work into making agility look easy and effortless. With some deep breaths and preparation, you too can make being agile look effortless. Let me tell you how. Process is not the enemy.

Last week my husband happened to have two days in a row off. If you know me, you know this is rare. We decided to drop everything and go camping two states away. We both have jobs, responsibilities, and people who count on us daily. But we went, and the world didn’t end.

How? The same way you can be agile and efficient with your marketing.

I can hear the collective groan because you know what’s coming next. Yup, the 5Ps.

Specifically the third P – Process. And there go the eye rolls.

It sounds counterintuitive but the more process you have, the more agile you can be. The easier it is to pivot in a different direction.

I’ll say that again. The more process you have, the more agile you can be. There is a misunderstanding that process slows you down and creates overhead. This is true of process that is not thought out and had no clear purpose.

However, purposeful process is not the enemy. Process is not meant to bog you down. Process makes you more efficient. Process creates predictable and repeatable outcomes, allowing you to focus elsewhere.

Take your marketing, for example. If an executive came to you, out of the blue, and asked you to create a different campaign than you’ve been planning and executing, and wants it in 48 hrs, could you do it?

“Process” is another way of saying “routine” which is another way of saying “habit”. We’re really talking about what habits and routines you have in your marketing. See? Not so scary.

When I worked in software development we were rigorous about using Agile Methodology. We had our daily stand-ups (scrums), we had two-week sprints, sprint planning, and backlogs. We worked hard to not deviate from the process so that we could stay agile. I told you it sounds counterintuitive.

But by sticking to the process, things became second nature. We knew how long tasks would take. We knew what the tradeoffs of features would be. We knew how to navigate and manage expectations of product releases. This meant that when someone came to me with a feature request, I could be agile. I could work with the team to shift priorities and trade out features for what was being asked. Then we started the processes all over again. The feature that we traded out went into the backlog, was re-prioritized, discussed at the sprint planning, and executed during the sprint. Every time we finished a spring we would evaluate the process to tighten it up, to make it more efficient.

When I went camping last week, I already knew what tasks I needed to get done ahead of time, what I could delegate, and what could wait a day. We have a very tight process for content creation, general marketing, and operations. This allowed me to act in an agile way, moving tasks and priorities around without much fuss.

Additionally, all our camping gear was already packed. I knew where everything was and exactly what we needed for an overnight trip. I have lists and I have a visual map of how to pack the car so that there is room for everyone. I also have after-camping processes which include laundry, re-packing, replacing used supplies, and updating lists. When we get back from each camping trip, we talk about what we could have improved on so that we can spend less time packing and cleaning, and more time relaxing. Kind of like an after-action review. Interesting how that works.

Now, back to your marketing. How much of what you do is a routine, a habit? How much of it is repeatable? If you’re asked to swap out a campaign, do you know what it will take?

As we are rapidly approaching the last quarter of 2022 this is when you can make changes to your process for the upcoming year without anyone batting an eye. Take advantage of the end-of-year planning chaos to evaluate whether you have all your processes in place to set you up for success. Ask yourself, “is it process for the sake of process, or is it purposeful?” Let’s be honest, people are always going to ask for something other than what you have planned. Wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t give you a heart attack every single time?

Want to talk about your process? Come tell me about it in our Free Slack Group, Analytics for Marketers


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