Agile Marketing and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Inattention to Results

In my last post, I discussed how the framework from “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni can illustrate how and why adopting Agile Marketing and the scrum process leads to success.  And I drilled-down on the fourth dysfunction: avoidance of accountability.

Picking up from that point, let’s look at the fifth and final dysfunction: inattention to results.  This stems directly from the avoidance of accountability.  The connection may not be obvious to many, so I’ll paint a more detailed picture.

Imagine a team that only half-heartedly agrees to vague and ambiguous goals.  We noted last time that people will find ways to avoid being accountable to those vague goals.  So if you ask them what the team has accomplished, what do they focus on?  They focus on their own accomplishments and ignore the team’s lack of results.

“Hey, look at all the new product graphics I produced.  Yeah, the campaign is way behind schedule, but I’m knocking my stuff out of the park!”

When team members operate in that mode, they only see their participation as a means to achieve personal recognition.  After all, they don’t believe the team will succeed, so they figure they need to at least accomplish some valuable “CYA work” so they don’t get blamed for the inevitable crash and burn.

In high-performing teams, everyone on the team is focused first and foremost on helping the team accomplish its goals.  And just to emphasize, we’re talking about the team’s goals, not the goals of individual team members – those are secondary.  Like a baseball player who agrees to bunt even though he’s close to setting a new personal HR record.  Or like a basketball player who agrees to foul-out on defense even though she’s one assist away from a triple-double.

So how does Agile Marketing and Scrum deal with this dysfunction?

  • Agile Marketers value customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy

The Agile Marketing Manifesto hits this nail on the head.  We care first and foremost about working together to deliver something for customers, not to puff-up our own accomplishments and job titles.  With truly customer-focused collaboration, members of high-performing teams don’t care about each others’ job titles – they care about how everyone can work together for the customer.  You may be a Director of Social Media Marketing, but if you’re the only person with time to review and edit a brochure that has to go out to the printers ASAP and you have the skills to do it, then you go ahead and do it.

  • Scrum only credits the team’s work, not individual efforts

This is related to what I mentioned in my previous post, where I mentioned that Scrum only lets the team get credit for work that’s “done”.  That time I was focusing on the word “done”, and this time I’m focusing on the word “team”.  In fact, the one occasion when the team is truly trying to show-off its work to everyone, the Sprint Review meeting, only highlights what the team delivered.  There’s no need to mention what individuals contributed, who was busiest, who worked on the “hardest” stuff, etc.  In short, there’s no focus on individuals at all.

If that sounds kind of bleak, don’t worry.  People receive recognition for doing good work, it’s just usually from their fellow teammates.  Also, if the team feels it’s appropriate, they can call-out individual members to the rest of the organization for recognition, but it’s the exception, not the rule.

Once again, I could probably go on and on about this dysfunction and how Agile Marketing philosophy and scrum do a great job of beating it to death.  Hopefully you get the idea.  And if you recognize this dysfunction, you see how adopting Agile Marketing and the scrum process will lead to success.  Which brings us to the end of this particular topic – we’ve covered the fifth of the five dysfunctions.  And if you haven’t already done so, if you enjoyed this topic at all, I highly recommend that you read “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni.  It’s short, engaging, and will give you a wealth of insights beyond what was covered here.

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