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“On the Shoulders of Giants and Giantesses”
ARCHIVE FROM THE 2021 AGILE MARKETING UNIVERSITY BLOG
Agile Marketing University Blog
Although the name of this Blog is Agile Marketing University, I call this open literature review Blog of Agile Marketing “On the Shoulders of Giants (and Giantesses)” as that title came to me after reading the work of Robert K. Merton and, of course, the foreword by Umberto Eco.
It serves as a reminder of our duty to accept and recognize that “Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it.” – Alfred North Whitehead.
The Blog is intended for friendly and constructive debate, should you notice a Critique of Agile Marketing or Agile Education it should be taken from a Popperian View (Popper, 1978) – in the sense that we recognize the provisional nature of knowledge – “the best we can do at the moment”, therefore and perhaps fully compatible with the Iterative and Incremental nature of Agility and its Empirical (I do not mean ‘logical empiricism’ but rather a modern view eg. that we see in Agile Practice such as can be observed in Material at Scrum.org) Foundations: transparency, being open to inspection and being adaptable.
As it pertains to Agile Marketing Education, one may find a constructive base for the use of critique of Agile when we consider it as ‘World 3’ knowledge – world of products of the human mind (Popper, 1978).
Agile Marketing is no Science but when we broaden our Educational focus and research practice in other fields, we quickly find gems from Educators all over the World.
One such gem is an article by Margaret A.L. Blackie. For instance, we find that there are interesting precedents in how Science Education could be positively transformed for personal development (Blackie, 2012).
The point is remaining intellectually curious and open enough so we continuously learn and improve as Educators and Researchers.
History of Business Agility
When I Teach Agile Marketing at University or College, I focus on the influences of Agility that ultimately shaped Business Agility as we know it today.
– A posteriori Logic and Subsequent Empiricism
– Toyota Way 1940-1950s
– NASA Iterative & Incremental Development (IID) 1950-1960s
– 1986 “New New Product Development Game” Harvard Business Review (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1986)
– 1995 Scrum Process
– 2004 Declaration of Interdependence
– 2012 Agile Marketing Manifesto (Updated 2021)
– 2015 Heart of Agile Shu-Ha-Ri-Kokoro
– 2022 Agile’s Customer Manifesto – Agile Customer-Centric Manifesto (ACCM)
I did not cite nor invent anything new here, I simply stand on the shoulders of Giants and Giantesses when I invite Students to Connect the Dots through a Discovery of some Agile Marketing Influences.
Kindly contact me if you are a Business Agility Researcher and wish to add to this list!
Avoiding Plagiarism and Resistance to New Ideas in Agile Education
Misappropriation Without Fully Understanding
The reason I must mention plagiarism is that Marketing Consultants and so-called Gurus in Marketing may misappropriate theoretical statements and propagate their misunderstanding by misquoting theory.
This happens perhaps more so in Marketing than other fields, at times our industry has developed expertise in naively misguiding and relying on anecdotal information to formulate pseudo theory.
Social Media as Driver of Misinformation
Social Media has just accelerated the diffusion of understanding as well as misunderstanding. The power of Diffusion is a concept well defined by Everett Rogers (Rogers, 1962).
As it pertains to Marketing, I am suggesting that misguided ideas spread through the Marketing Community much in the way that was described by Jonathan Swift in 1710: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it” – or its modern take of “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.”
Humility in Seeking out what Giants and Giantesses of Agility have to Say – Research!
I may quote Merton and meander through some historical aspects of Agility but please consider my amateur attempt at explaining the sources in the same light as what Mario Bunge indicated “Merton, a sociologist and historian of ideas by training, is the real founding father of the sociology of knowledge as a science and a profession; his predecessors had been isolated scholars or amateurs” (Bunge, 1998).
I am in no way a predecessor of Agile but one could say I fit the definition of an isolated, yet passionate, amateur in explaining some of the Agile Marketing origins.
Before I attempted to detail anything, I did some broad research, the twist of fate was truly ‘serendipitous’ since the journey I followed lead to the work of Robert K. Merton when I read an article on the Evolution of Technology (Campa, 2008) by Dr Riccardo Campa.
On the Shoulders of Giants (Merton 1993) contains a wonderful foreword by Umberto Eco detailing behaviours to avoid lest we revert back to the Middle Ages and its notion of false and falsification such as relying on Auctoritas (truth being easily manipulated by authority) and the awful notion in retrospect of Tamquam ab iniustis possessoribus that we still see today in Marketing through some form of resistance to new ideas, unless significant perceived prestige is attached to its source, as we see in Science (Morgan et al, 2018).
It is neither my intention to offend nor to compare, even less equate Marketing to Religion, but rather suggest how we may often be losing out on valuable knowledge or be misguided in how we embrace new ideas (even bad ones) in Marketing because of our perception. Flawed preconceptions can play a role in misleading us as to the validity of a source due, in part, to perceived Prestige (Morgan et al, 2018).
Impact of Popular yet Uninformed Influencers
This phenomenon of praising the known and popular, even if they are wrong, is especially visible on Professional Platforms such as LinkedIn where a one sentence Post by a popular “author” can be praised and shared ad nauseam while a well-researched and highly comprehensive Post can remain hidden in the shadows.
There is risk in only “Liking” or only being exposed to what is Popular.
To draw a parallel, “Learning Styles” has been debunked as an Education Practice, it is not only a myth but factually ineffective (Lilienfeld et al, 2010).
Need for Intellectual Rigour in Agile Marketing
Without greater guidance and rigour in Agile Marketing today, there is a fear that misinformed, yet well-known corporate influencers, may ultimately confuse and damage learning outcomes much in the regrettable way as the dissemination of “Learning Styles” reduced effectiveness and stunted learning when applied in Corporate Training.
Unfortunately, there is a propensity for some Agencies and Marketers to get carried away by the latest fad and forget to apply critical thinking when adopting new Marketing Concepts. With the proliferation of Corporate Training in Agile Marketing, at times, it is our duty as Educators to inform some Marketers and Trainers as well as explain elements of the Agile Organizational Effectiveness Strategy in a more precise and enlightened manner.
Welcoming Agile Marketing Research and Critique on Topics
Agile Manifestos and Application in Business
The enthusiasm for Manifestos is valuable to promote an Agile Mindset but there seems to be a rush to write the Next Manifesto in every function of Business (Management, HR, Finance, Sales, etc).
I believe there is Value in Exploring all Agile Manifestos!
You will notice that some Manifestos are wisely and deliberately transparent, open to inspection and adaptable. That is precisely why in creating the Agile Marketing Manifesto its authors added the following invitation to contribute stating:
“We ask for your help with these questions:
- Are these the right values?
- Should we eliminate any?
- Should we consolidate any?
- Have we missed something?”
To this day, those four questions found on agilemarketingmanifesto.org reflect well on the Agile Mindset demonstrated by its manifesto creators, clearly conveys the openness and stands as a testimonial of Best Practice by Jim Ewel, John Cass, Frank Days, Travis Arnold, Rohn Jay Miller, Jascha Kaykas-Wollf, Deborah Miller, Parker Trewin, and Nicolette Androski.
That exemplifies the importance of reflecting on what has been already produced as Best Practices in Agile Values and Principles and how Manifestos could be interrelated.
Recognition of Agile Marketing Building Blocks
We are therefore free to consider how to scale Agile Business Manifestos based on a Blueprint that was already accessible 8 years before the Agile Marketing Manifesto existed. The Declaration of Interdependence provides very comprehensive – “Agile and adaptive approaches for linking people, projects and value.” (Hartmann-Preuss, 2006).
We can also explore, for instance, why some Agile Values and Principles may not transfer from one Manifesto to the Other?
Agile Marketing Value Review
For example, why is Principle #10 in Agile Marketing summarized as “Simplicity is essential” instead of being the same as Agile Development we find in agilemanifesto.org “Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential.”
On the one hand, the principle of KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) ensures we only create what is needed but it can give the wrong impression of Simplicity in that it may lead to under engineered Marketing – too simple. That said, I certainly do not advocate overbuilding Marketing.
There is evidence that the Agile Marketing “Simplicity’ principle could have been viewed in the same manner as what is intended in the Agile Manifesto, Miguel Tam’s earlier Manifesto for Agile Marketing (Tam, 2010) clearly shows that it was considered.
I see a case for the essence of the principle from Agile Development and certainly it invites exploration as Marketing can suffer from wasted efforts and missed opportunities at times. Perhaps that Principle, in this light, could help some Individuals in maximizing the amount of work (non priority) NOT done in Marketing.
Admittedly, there are specificities unique to each Discipline. However, we may discover that we have far more in common than we think when we discover common Best Practices in Agile Manifestos across Disciplines.
Business Agility and Shu-Ha-Ri
The same challenges and opportunities we observe in the application of Manifestos across Business Disciplines can guide our concepts for adoption and deployment in organizations. Today’s enthusiasm for Shu-Ha-Ri can also contemplate and be enhanced through the Kokoro extension (Cockburn, 2015) proposed by Alistair Cockburn as well as provide new beneficial optics eg. by juxtaposing Shu-Ha-Ri-Kokoro with the Dunning-Kruger Effect (Dunning, 2011).
For instance, I freely explore and combine multiple views already expressed by Giants and Giantesses before me and voice my observations such as a chart I produced for my Agile Marketing Class.
I found it useful to produce a chart to visualize SHU-HA-RI-KOKORO and the importance of differentiating Confidence gained early from Cognitive Bias versus Confidence gained from true Kokoro Mastery.
Developing a Better Understanding of Shu-Ha-Ri
I may share a juxtaposition chart here eventually but first, I want to reach out to Dr Alistair Cockburn to see what he thinks.
I remain Transparent, Open to Inspection and Adaptable, therefore do not hesitate to help me consider a new angle or add your voice to this observation.
Are there Different Types of Agile Marketing?
Are there Types of Agile Marketing; if so, does Organizational Scale and Structure Explain Why Differences Exist?
Agility could be like Physics in that Quantum Physics behaves Differently and its Rules change based on Scale and Size. Agile Marketing would therefore be different when applied in a Startup or SMB compared to Marketing Agility we encounter in Multinationals.
Multinational Unique Challenges in Strategic Flexibility?
Findings, based on perception of 107 Multinational CEOs, would suggest that there are effects of culture and structure on strategic flexibility, specifically the observation that “magnitude of business model innovation effort moderates the effect of reconfiguration on strategic flexibility” (Bock et al, 2012).
Multinationals’ Unique Capabilities and Structures?
Business Practice for large Multinationals tends to emphasize increased agility through the development of greater capabilities and structures.
For instance, in 2015, Boston Consulting Group stressed the importance of “centralizing the right activities” because organizations could fail in finding optimal solutions by not being “strategic enough about what they centralize” thereby “missing out on creating economies of scale”. BCG goes on to explain how marketing organizations “struggle to find the new capabilities, as well as new organization structures, to be effective in the current environment” (Visser et al, 2015).
Customer Satisfaction and Future Costs?
Business Agility advocates for Focus on Customer Value and there are many obvious Incentives in maintaining strong levels of Customer Satisfaction. However, few Researchers had thoroughly explored its Impact and Potential Benefits on Future Cost of Sales (COS).
The Customer satisfaction and its impact on the future costs of selling Study is the First Empirical and Theoretical Examination of the Impact of Customer Satisfaction on Future COS (Lim et al, 2020).
RELATED TOPICS TO EXPLORE?
Consider “Value-Co-creation” Read Articles from Christian Grönroos, Enrico Angioni, Rita Cannas, Sarah Hönigsberg and others
Invitation to Modern Business Agility Academics
This Blog aims to continuously add unique content from World-Class Experts and Academics in Agile Marketing. Contact me, I’d be thrilled to hear from you!
Have you read up to here? Thank you!
All the Best,
My name is Thomas Hormaza Dow, I am no Giant! You can call me Tom. I am just an interested observer of Agile Education Evolution and a Teacher of Agile Marketing at University and College in Montreal, Quebec. I strive to infuse a balance between theory and relevant Modern Practice in my Agile Coaching.
My Current Projects:
Crowdsourced Creation of an Agile Sales Manifesto
IntrAgility, InterAgility and ExtrAgility: Types of Agility and Skills
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Bock, A. J., Opsahl, T., George, G., & Gann, D. M. (2012). The effects of culture and structure on strategic flexibility during business model innovation. Journal of Management Studies, 49(2), 279–305
Bunge, M. (1998). Social Science under Debate. A Philosophical Perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
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Cockburn, A. (2016). The heart of agile. Retrieved Feb 2021, https://heartofagile.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/201611-Cockburn.pdf
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Lim, L. G., Tuli, K. R., & Grewal, R. (2020). Customer satisfaction and its impact on the future costs of selling. Journal of Marketing, 84(4), 23-44.
Merton R. K. (1993), On the Shoulders of Giants: The PostItalianate Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Morgan, A. & Economou, D. & Way, S. & Clauset, A. (2018). Prestige drives epistemic inequality in the diffusion of scientific ideas. EPJ Data Science.
Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. (1986). The new new product development game. Harvard Business Review. 64. 137-146.
Popper, K. (1978). Three worlds: The Tanner lecture on human values. In U. o. Michigan (Ed.).
Rogers, E. M. (1962). Diffusion of innovations (1st ed.). New York: Free Press of Glencoe.
Rogers, E. M. (1976). “New Product Adoption and Diffusion,” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1976, pp. 290-301
Swift J. (1710) The Examiner, 9 Nov. 1710: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”
Visser J., Field D., & Sheerin A. (2015, October 5). The Agile Marketing Organization. BCG Retrieved from
“A Manifesto for Agile Marketing” by Miguel Tam, Topsprout Blog March 16, 2010 Retrieved Feb 2021, http://topsprout.blogspot.com/2010/03/manifesto-for-agile-marketing.html
“Examining the Declaration of Interdependence” by Deborah Hartmann Preuss, INFOQ 2006 Retrieved Feb 2021, https://www.infoq.com/news/Examining-the-DOI/