PMM: Why the 90 Day Obstacle Sprint is so Important
By Austin LaRoche, ATAK Interactive CEO
About five years ago, I created a new rule in my office – nobody was allowed to say they didn’t have time to get something done. Time is our most valuable currency as human beings, and despite what some may think, it’s far more important than the dollar in our business lives as well. The truth is, we have 24 hours each day to do the things we wish to do, and we prioritize what it is we think will help achieve both the short and long-term results we desire the most. In our office, that meant saying things like: “I prioritized Project X over this yesterday, if you need this today, let me know and I will put it at the top of my list.”
Basically, we had to get rid of “time” as an excuse for not achieving what we wanted to achieve. Instead of time, our team had to constantly evaluate priority in their production.
Business leaders oftentimes have the vision for the things they want to do, they simply never find the time. They can tell you exactly what they want their marketing operation to look like years from now, once new websites are built, CRMs are adopted, and collateral is developed. Those barriers serve as excuses for companies to stick with the status quo until they feel the cost of inaction years later as the competition begins to lap them.
Part one of Purposeful Marketing is all about focus. It’s about eliminating the noise and architecting the path to the promised land. Part two is all about follow-through. The execution of the day-to-day work needed to move the needle. Focus + Follow-Through must work hand-in-hand to be effective.
The first taste a business gets at how they follow-through on the path they have built is the Obstacle Sprint. The Sprint is designed to pragmatically eliminate all of the perceived barriers companies have constructed that keep them from doing what they wish to do. Decision-makers must look at their list of Obstacles in the way, turn them into S.M.A.R.T. goals, and execute.
What is an obstacle?
Simply put, obstacles are challenges that stand in the way of your company marketing as you wish. Common obstacles include the need for sales copy, design collateral, a software/system upgrade, a new website, or additional human capital outside of the current team. The only real rule of an obstacle is “can this task be completed within a 90-day period?”
It’s important to make a distinction from a perceived barrier to an actual barrier. If a company needs a new CRM and chooses Salesforce, the onboarding + implementation will go far beyond 90 days. As we stated above, time is our most valuable asset.
When we build Marketing-to-Sales Maps, we are building the “promised land.” We need to get to the place we’ve built for ourselves and anything that takes over 90 days to overcome is going to make that achievement far more difficult to obtain.
How do we identify and attack obstacles?
Each day of Purposeful Marketing, an Obstacle List is created. Throughout the Brand, Data, Audience, and especially the Marketing-to-Sales sessions, Obstacles are added to a list.
Like the rest of our work, obstacles must be broken down as S.M.A.R.T. goals. Too often, obstacles seem like mountains to climb when looking at the complete task from start-to-finish. But breaking them down into S.M.A.R.T. goals makes things easier.
Let’s use an example.
A manufacturing company wants a new website. This is their major obstacle. To get over the hurdle, the company must first decide how important the relationship is between a new website and HubSpot integration. Assuming they still need to move forward with a new site, the company must figure out how to build Phase 1 that gets them the baseline changes they need in 90 days.
Look, there are a million ways to build a website and it’s not easy to get them done in 90 days. But as we often do, sometimes we think good is the enemy of perfect instead of the zygote. Building a new website can be done in 90 days, but it does require that we focus and follow-through on each element of our 90-day goal.
The first thing you need to do is organize the project over a three–month span.
Take the basics of a website building project:
- Choose Platform
- Determine Design Path
- Collect Assets
- Outline Homepage and determine layout/copy/photos
- Outline Subpages and determine layout/copy/photos
- Begin Coding
- Launch Beta in Sandbox
- Test + Debug
- Go live
The next step is a little bit of a “Choose Your Own Adventure.” We built Purposeful Marketing to be flexible to the systems companies work with day in and day out.
Some companies thrive with project management software like Asana while others like to map projects out on a whiteboard. There’s no right or wrong way to manage your productivity. Additionally, different norms across industries and organizations can dictate how much minutia they put into tasks. Looking at the list above, some Project Managers need to break out each small element of each phase, while others prefer to bundle tasks in order to minimize the amount of time spent inputting unnecessary amounts of data into their obstacle list.
When working with a Purposeful Marketing guide, companies use the last part of the Marketing-to-Sales day working together within their Project Management system to plot out the sprint.
What are the keys to success for an Obstacle Sprint?
When it comes to managing an Obstacle Sprint, there are a few keys to success we’ve identified among the clients who’ve adopted Purposeful Marketing:
- The Project Plan is visible in a place where everyone on the team is consistently looking. Everyone has to see it day-in and day-out to get the best adoption. It can be a whiteboard in the middle of an office or a software application everyone uses daily.
- The Project Plan is updated daily. Keeping focus means paying attention. Don’t let a work day slide without touching the Obstacle Sprint, identifying where everyone is with their tasks and making it a priority.
- There is a short scrum held routinely where all parties in the project clearly state what they have done, what they are doing, and identify any challenges they are facing. The more frequency between scrums, the better. Considering you have 90 Days to get everything done, we recommend holding scrums daily.
There are a million reasons why you can’t do something. The Obstacle Sprint is your first opportunity to follow-through on the focus you identified when building your strategy. Your challenge is to determine if you are all talk, or if you really want to prioritize the work needed to bring you to the promised land.
Step up and get to work 😉
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