Micro-Agile vs. Macro-Agile Methodologies
For the last couple of years I’ve been using agile methodologies for many of our development projects. Granted agile is not an obvious fit for a digital agency but I have actually experienced how agile methodologies protect our teams in the face of inevitable —mostly client-driven— change.
Some of the most useful tools include clear iterative cycles, sprint reviews, and stakeholder and customer involvement (or UX in lieu of final users). However, as effective as agile has been it hasn’t entirely resolved all the issues surrounding marketing project deliveries.
The agile approach is mostly employed during development and left out of the earlier and subsequent phases of product creation. This is not a concern in companies in which the main core competency is software production (eg. software development companies, production studios or startups) since non production-based phases are so rare. In the case of a digital agency, however, the product is not the core deliverable, the value added to the customer is. Which in turn means that software development is a byproduct of advertising agencies and receives only limited attention. (Some might think that this is a very naive approach to what the spirit of digital agencies should be. I might be one of those.)
Since the life of a project is only partially concerned with development, traditionally only said phase employed agile methodologies (which, I should remind the reader, are software development methodologies and therefore describe operations concerning the development phase alone.)
This is what I’d call Micro-Agile; agile development applied only to a segment of the overall project life cycle. In the case of marketing campaigns we could consider that the whole project consists of Discovery, Planning, Development and Post-development.. Of all those phases, most agencies only use agile techniques during the software development phase (if at all).
As beneficial as this approach is, it could be improved by simple magnification. This is what I call Macro-agile; the enforcement of agile methodologies to the whole life cycle of a project going beyond the development phases. This new territory is not just limited to definition and delivery but also encompasses the management and planning of the Agile process itself (becoming a Meta-Agile methodology of sorts).
Macro-Agile —just as Micro-Agile (or traditional agile)— deals with the complexities of customer feedback, proper project definition, goal assessment, success definition, etc. and these affairs are present during all phases of marketing campaigns.
The distinction between Micro-Agile and Macro-Agile is similar to the distinction between Agile software development and Agile project management.
Macro-Agile lies in the heart of the Agile Marketing movement and represents, in my opinion, the first attempt at a methodological approach to resolve the multiple issues present in digital agencies and to resolve the challenges in the face of a rapidly evolving market and customer expectations.
February 7, 2013 ☼ thoughts