A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – Us vs. Them

“Don’t involve them, they will just bog things down.”
“Stay under the radar with this project or they will try to hijack it.”
“All they do is whine, don’t bother give them sign-off approval.”
“We must avoid their involvement or it will never get done.”

The “Us vs. Them” dynamic is insidious. It’s always there to some degree in any gathering of humans. But improperly aligned goals, faulty processes, or even unchecked ambition can cause it to strengthen in an organization. Here are a few places you’ll find it:

Sales vs. Marketing

The story is as old as dirt. Sales complains they’re not getting enough leads. Marketing generates more leads. Sales complains the new leads are useless – they’re not ready to close. Marketing sends the unappreciated leads to another channel for nurturing. Sales angrily demands the non-closable leads be given back to them immediately. Marketing stops seeking Sales input on initiatives. Sales starts quietly initiating their own rogue direct mail and email projects at the local level.

Marketing vs. IT

Marketing needs a new landing page for a spring campaign. IT develops all web assets, and estimates 4 weeks. Marketing says it shouldn’t take more than 4 days. IT got burned with all the changes Marketing required on the last landing page, so the unwritten rule is to geneously pad all Marketing estimates – 4 weeks. Marketing instead has their intern build the landing page and host it on his fraternity’s server. When the page goes down during the frat’s Minecraft Marathon weekend, Marketing calls IT for help.

Colocated Team vs. Distributed Team

Anaheim doesn’t scrum with Baltimore because it’s at 5:30 am Anaheim time. Anaheim resents Baltimore’s meddling with their self-direction and their negative impact on velocity metrics – so they don’t ask a lot of questions. Baltimore doesn’t offer the Anaheim unsolicited feedback either. They didn’t want the west coast team in the first place, and their failure wouldn’t cause many tears back east. The lean requirements are carpaccio-thin. The UX team and interaction architect are in Baltimore. The lead programmers are in Anaheim. So let’s see what the product looks like at the end. Yay.

It’s obvious that communication is the antidote. If it’s the higher-ups that are feeding the “Us vs. Them” mentality, you’ve got a dilemma. If you will be punished for reaching out to the “them’s”, then start looking for another job. That’s a sick organization. If not, then you can probably still set an example. Reach out. Manage up. And stay off the Minecraft server.

Agile Humor – New Certifications

The brilliant Peter Saddington, a/k/a AgileScout, posted a wickedly funny April 1st announcement of a Certified Agile Blogger course. Yep, April Fool! Read it, it’s great fun.

Since I blog about Agile from the point of view of the business stakeholders, it got me thinking about other certifications we could use in the Agile community.


This 2-day course will give you all the skills you need to wean the business off Waterfall into the new Agile reality. You’ll learn to recognize the stages of change resistance:

Denial – “We’ve never done it like this, not going to start now. Unless you’re going to make each sprint eighteen months long.”
Anger – “I wouldn’t scrum with you if you were the last PM on earth!”
Bargaining – “Okay, okay – I’ll meet with you to answer your requirements questions, just give me one more product cycle that carries a three-ring binder full of comprehensive and immovable up-front requirements.”
Depression – “You don’t really want my sign-off. Nobody values my opinion anymore, all anybody cares about is that stupid wiki now.”
Acceptance – “Right, so explain to me again how that task moves from ‘In Progress’ to ‘Done’.”


Marketing is from Vegas, Dev is from Alderan. (Silicon Valley. I meant Silicon Valley). There’s a language barrier. The two teams dress differently, have different customs. Marketing needs an Agile Sherpa, a guide and emissary, to help them navigate this unfamiliar world.

Upon completion of the Certified Agile Sherpa course, you will be bilingual, fluent in both Geek and Hype.

You will be able to explain to the Marketing team why “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.” carries as much fine print as “Facebook values your privacy”. And why code complete isn’t as flexible as their expense account.

You will be able to explain to the Dev team that “The sole success criterion will be the number of clicks generated.” carries as much fine print as “Drink responsibly”. And why there would be another success metric besides velocity.

Are there other certifications that could be useful? Drop me a line in the comments. this could be the start of a beautiful collaboration. With a little fine print…