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Technical and Marketing Agility, a Roundtable Discussion with Non-Profit Leads

Recently, I had the chance to work with Monica-Lisa Mills the VP, Client Services at Advomatic to present at an invitation-only event titled “Maintaining Technical & Marketing Agility.” I recently sat down with her to talk about the event and what we learned. Check out the full conversation below, followed by notes on some of the high points.

Why a private event?

The goal was to create an atmosphere where people felt comfortable speaking openly.  Monica noted that that people do speak differently when there is mostly woman in the room. The invitation-only approach also made them feel more welcomed. This helped create a more relaxed mood, especially since the invite list was curated to help ensure the participants were not in direct competition. This way they could more freely open up about their “secret sauce” and have a more open dialog.  

What did the round table discuss?

The goal of the event was to bring together the non-profit community to share best practices around how to manage projects and stakeholders. The roundtable asked two overarching questions:

  1. When undertaking any kind of project, how do you balance the need to have a plan with the need to respond to change?

  2. How do you keep a  big project moving forward while effectively involving stakeholders without it bogging down momentum?  

The group also talked about how Agile came to be and what it involves — things like working in short, iterative sprints, welcoming change, and making adjustments based on feedback. One part Monica was excited about was the conversation about translating Agile to other areas outside of tech. “As we see more areas like activism, human rights, and social justice movements adopt these principles, it is exciting to see us move those conversations away from tech and more around ‘Design Thinking’ and ‘Human-centered Design’”

What has emerged is a common language across all these fields with a real focus on ideas like empathizing with your users, prototyping in short cycles, and planning just enough in just enough time. Monica found it fascinating to hear these development best practices applied to the non-profit space.

I really loved the one slide, not too dissimilar to this one, that was discussed that shows an analogy for building a car by starting not with a wheel but with a smaller, but still usable scooter. Delivering things in phases is important to the Agile methodologies. I really liked Monica’s analogy about building a house as well: “You can’t just build a floor, what if it rains?”

How can we organize more events with this kind of openness?

Monica really feels a round table format is a good fit for this, over a panel or traditional presentation-style event. The more we can try to encourage women to talk to each other about these topics, the better we can organically grow this type of discussion and still keep it intimate enough for open communication.

Listening is such a valuable part. The questions that have already been asked, about measuring success when success is intangible or how to think about change when achievement is hard to quantify through metrics; those questions need to drive the conversation forward and we can only hear those questions by listening.  

You can read more from Monica about agile and her work over on the Advomatic blog. We would love to hear your thoughts on Agile and applying it to other disciplines in the comments below.

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