blog overview
Agile
Nicole Williams, 13 Oct '16

The Power of Reflection For Marketing Teams

Increase marketing team performance by scheduling periodic retrospectives. Make continuous improvement a habit to maximize team engagement and autonomy.

Marketers are a busy breed. We juggle multiple deadlines, campaigns and projects. There’s a constantly expanding list of things to learn and test and try. But in the midst of this hectic environment it can be difficult to find the time to stop and reflect.

However, as Einstein is thought to have said “Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results”. It’s easy to slip into habits which lead to repeating the same methods over and over. Break out of the cycle by scheduling time to work on your team, and gradually but consistently improve productivity.

No matter how good your marketing team is, there’s always room to improve. Retrospectives (retros) provide a dedicated time to work on improving your team. Retros usually happen at the end of a sprint (period of work). They are a chance to reflect not just the results of marketing activities but how you function as a team and work with other areas of the business.

Retrospectives provide an opportunity to ask:  

  • What should we start doing?
  • What should we stop doing?
  • What should we continue doing?

In the same way that an Agile marketer tests, reviews and improves marketing activities, we should also look to improve the teams we work in.

A team might seek to improve how they communicate with other departments, speed up feedback loops internally or improve productivity within the team. A retro prompts the team to examine how things are currently running, and look for ways to improve upon the status quo. Rather than fitting more hours into each day, retros help teams improve their productivity.    

Over time these incremental changes lead to higher performing, more productive teams for these three reasons:

1. Retros spark small changes that add up to big improvements

Retros encourage a culture of continuous improvements. Team learn to look at everything they do through this lens. Rather than accepting that this is “how it’s always done”, individuals start to naturally look for ways to improve processes, streamline actions or simplify workflows. In retros the team comes together to decide what areas they want to improve on and select a few to try out. The key is to tweak a couple of things at a time to ensure you have time to implement and that you’re not changing too much at once.

In every retro, the team is encouraged to decide upon new action points for the coming sprint, but also to evaluate the effectiveness of action points set during previous retros. Has the solution turned out to be something we should keep doing or was it a failed experiment we should stop doing? This shows that the action points created in previous retros are important. If they’re forgotten after the retro, the team will quickly lose trust in the process and will be discouraged to plan new action points.

2. Retros support team problem solving

Retros encourage the team themselves, rather than managers, to identify areas to improve and create solutions. With the team leading the solutions there’s higher buy-in for new ideas and processes. Team problem solving encourages ownership and self-management.

3. Retros help team engagement

Retros should encourage feedback and participation from all team members. This builds engagement and bonds the team. It also provides an opportunity to air and deal with smoldering conflicts. For example, if a team fails a sprint goal, the retrospective can dissect why the deadline was missed and more importantly what the team should learn to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Retros are not about blame, they’re a process of collective learning.

Retrospectives encourage open communication between marketing team members. Creating a habit around retrospectives is a great way to encourage a culture of continuous improvement within your marketing team. Retros are also a great opportunity to acknowledge what is working well, and ensure it keeps happening. Even the highest performing marketing teams benefit from this proactive reflection.