Official photographic portrait of US President...
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OK, OK, he didn’t exactly do that. The president probably doesn’t even know what agile marketing is. But he certainly would agree with it based on the remarks I saw him make the other day when he announced the “My Brother’s Keeper” program. For those unfamiliar with it, the program is an attempt by the US Government to provide networking resources for a group of people that are least likely to have successful mentors, young African-American males. Regardless of your political views or your opinions surrounding this program, it’s hard to find anyone who would argue with one thing the president said during the announcement. I was eating in the hotel bar during the announcement and absent-mindedly listening to CNN while he spoke when he uttered the magic words.

“If it works, support it. If it doesn’t, don’t.”

If this isn’t the government adopting an agile approach to its programs, I don’t know what would be. This kind of agile, data-driven approach is exactly what more and more organizations have been looking at the last few years. But, in my experience, relatively few of them have adopted these methods.

Way back in 2007, when I wrote the book, Do It Wrong Quickly, the term agile marketing did not exist. But make no mistake about it–that book is all about agile marketing. The book walks you through understanding how to keep score based on actual sales and it helps you understand how to make changes to your marketing just to see what happens. You basically treat your marketing as one big experiment.

What I was trying to say is, “If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, stop.”

Since then, I have spent a lot of time helping large organizations adopt more agile approaches. And I have made many speeches and conducted hundreds of training sessions toward that same end. And along the way, I have encountered a long list of “Reasons Why Not.” These are the excuses that people toss in to avoid the difficult work of actually changing.

They tell me that their company is too big to make such a change or it is so small that it has no resources to change or that their industry is regulated or their leaders are risk-averse or…you get the idea. Everyone has a reason why it won’t work, so they shouldn’t try it. But they are all missing the point, because the idea behind agile is that we don’t know what will work and we will only find out by trying it.

So, ask yourself this: If you have been making these excuses about why agile is not going to work for you, do you really think that you are more bureaucratic than the US government? Is your company more hidebound than our social services system? Is your business really less data-driven than social workers?

If you can answer “yes” to these three questions with a straight face, then that’s fair enough. But if not, maybe you should be trying agile marketing, just to see what will happen. If it works, support it. If it doesn’t, don’t. But stop making excuses about why you shouldn’t even try.