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Kaizen -Towards Agility in Digital

In reality, it is a Japanese literary work that becomes a manual for samurai inspired by Bushido, a code of behaviour that shows “the way of the warrior.”

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One of the things that interest me is in what way can we co-relate an existing methodology to something else. In today’s piece, my attempt will be to do the same, keeping ‘Kaizen’ as the centripetal force.

One thing that I have been thinking about more often off late is about ‘Scrum’ which is a framework for developing and sustaining complex products. The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Scrum framework. I am not an expert in this agile methodology, however, this concept ushered me to take a tangent for more agile teams in Digital and more so in integrated marketing efforts.

Today, in the dynamic Media ecosystem of, there are few things that will define and differentiate one team from another which boils down to overall organizations. This becomes even more important when we look at team members being various parts of a gear where everyone has a ‘key’ role to play. 

Kaizen 

I first came across this term in the year 2001 during my 3 year stint with GECIS (now GENPACT) and thankful to be a part of a Green Belt project where apart from the DMAIC methodology of Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve , Control ;  for process improvement the pedestal was based on ‘Kaizen’. Kaizen which is Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency by every member of a team. Till date, I recognize the importance of defining a problem statement and working towards, not just solving it but ‘continuous improvement’. By creating solutions, testing the solutions, measure and analyse results and then standardize the solution to be applied to a set of similar problem statements. Every process may not need a DMAIC methodology, however, having a conscious system in place to track continuous incremental improvements is a catalyst to the digital fraternity. In day to day tasks, this helps in structuring a method to the madness.

Predicting upcoming trends, working towards an integrated and effective Go-To-Market approach to tackle consumer behaviour and shift in habits, it becomes imperative to make Kaizen a part of our daily DNA. The best part, it can be applied to both professional and personal lives. The only challenge could be that it needs to be constantly fostered and imbibed from time to time so that ‘every team member can work towards it to contribute and translate into organizational success.

Cross-Function Agility

At our organization, we have initiated a stream of structured cross trainings facilitated between our Mass Media and Digital teams. When we are gradually able to understand Marketing as a whole there are deeper learnings and cross-functional abilities that can anchorage towards delight for a particular client while enabling more quality in interactions internally and externally. For example, measurement on Television vis-a vis Digital. Also, how are the arms of Media Planning, Media Buying, Media Execution functioning with Media strategy at the core of it and how the approach may change from one brand to the other. Even to the effect that how we define ‘Urban’, ‘Rural’ and ‘Household’ is an understanding that needs to be kept in mind. Similarly, in Digital, media suggestions depend on the research, history and intelligence along with the core KPI to be solved. In marketing, a cross-functional team member does not mean that person has to be a marketing generalist, but rather has the ability to help the team and keep them from getting stuck in a holding pattern. You may still have team members who are specialists. Successful agile marketing teams have one very important thing in common — cross-functional team members that have the ability to take campaigns from strategy to execution. This allows them to stop waiting and start delivering at a much faster pace than traditional marketing teams, gradually leading to ‘Kaizen’ .

Limit the Volume of WIP

I was bad at acronyms and I still am. However, some acronyms should be looked at being eliminated or as I say, limit the volume of it just because it creates a mirage.

EOD, EOW, WIP – I believe no elaboration is required.  My only point of view here, these are stumbling blocks to not allow us to intervene with our commitments. If we stick to a base principle of Under-Commit and Over -Deliver with specific timelines to deliver as per deadline, that puts a check on the volume of tasks that are Work-In-Progress which translates again into ….  ‘Kaizen’.

DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method)

Since 1994, the DSDM methodology in Agile approach, evolved to provide a comprehensive foundation for planning, managing, executing and scaling. However, to un-complex this, when I studied the Eight key Principles of DSDM, I realized that these could be applied to daily tasks for every team member.  These are simple principles that are self-explanatory for effective output teams and in turn when we back calculate it to ‘Kaizen’, it makes sense as the below is something which may not be a rocket science but when out into daily rigour it brings out incremental improvement in overall media and account management as well.

•Focus on the business need

•Deliver on time

•Collaborate

•Never compromise quality

•Build incrementally 

•Develop iteratively

•Communicate continuously and clearly 

•Demonstrate control 

As a concluding note, instead of summarizing, I will share a specific best practice for Google Ads, since we are taking inspiration from a Japanese concept of Kaizen,  if we are up to date with PPC strategies we would have heard of Hagakure, a Japanese term that comes to mean “in the shade of the leaves” or “hidden in the leaves”. In reality, it is a Japanese literary work that becomes a manual for samurai inspired by Bushido, a code of behaviour that shows “the way of the warrior.”

So, for Google Ads. the Hagakure Method proposes to disentangle the structure of Ads campaigns so that the machine can obtain more data per campaign to better apply its machine learning algorithms so that, as a result, automation works better and we achieve, best results.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Ankoor Dasguupta

Ankoor is the National Head for Planning & Buying- Digital at DDB Mudra Group. Ankoor brings with him 20 years of work experience through the spectrum of marketing and advertising across functions in print, digital, mobile and events. Ankoor is a firm believer in nurturing relationships.

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