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Achieving marketing agility starts with your company's culture, which is where the rubber hits the road.

However, companies often put in place a process, or a set of processes, to address agility instead of taking the time to work on building the culture required to achieve agility and sustain it—to really change the organizations operational habits from what they are today to a much more fluid, flexible, and iterative approach to doing work.

Although processes can help you make small gains in agility, the big gains are going to happen because of your culture and your people.

What does an agile culture look like?

  • People work across functions and silos to collaborate in self-organizing teams.
  • Decision-making is empowered, and it happens as close to the work as possible.
  • Teams are trusted to experiment, to take initiative, and to even fail as long as they learn.
  • Work is done in short, active cycles of prioritize-test-learn, prioritize-test-learn, and so on.
  • The customer is at the center of decision-making.

The following four steps to an agile culture are a guide for companies that are making the transition from traditional to agile marketing.

Step 1: Be a committed leader

"Your customer and process are important, but if you don't have a culture where your people feel empowered to be adaptable, to learn and communicate, you won't be able to serve the rest of the business." —Leslie Snavely, VP of marketing and corporate sales, CHG Healthcare Services

Put simply, leadership can make or break the agile culture. Leadership drives the mindset and embraces the methodology that brings agile marketing to life. Leaders empower their teams to test and adapt as needed without traditional rounds of approvals. That means support for taking risks and making mistakes because they will teach you something new.

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image of Barre Hardy

Barre Hardy is senior director and agile marketing research lead with CMG Partners, a consultancy helping businesses grow through marketing strategy.

LinkedIn: Barre (Blake) Hardy

Twitter: @barreblake