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Q&A with Stacey Ackerman

Updated: Feb 10

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Stacey Ackerman, Managing Partner, Agile Marketing Coach & freelance writer.

How could you describe your career path in a few words? 


My career is continually evolving, and it’s never been linear! I’ve had to adapt and rebrand myself many times since graduating from college in the mid-90s. There was no such thing as an “agile practitioner” back then, so I couldn’t have even anticipated that’s what I would do for a decade! 


When I was graduating high school I felt very set in my career choice—I wanted to be a newspaper reporter! By the time I graduated college the Internet was just coming out and traditional journalism was changing, so I decided to pivot to corporate communications, which led to various roles in internal communications, public relations, event planning and marketing director.  


I’ve launched several entrepreneurial ventures and have learned from my failures (and a few successes)!. I owned a marketing agency, a wedding makeup business and helped launch and manage a spa for teens.  


Today I still have my hands in a lot of areas! I am a partner at NavigateAgile, along with owning and managing three rental properties and working as a freelance writer. 


While my career has been more like a chaotic pile of spaghetti than a ladder, there are certain core skills that have followed me down this long and winding road—writing, presenting, teaching, leading and influencing people.  

How do you think agile practices have transformed companies over the past two years? 


For companies that have embraced real agility, not just the surface stuff like renaming the way they’ve always worked, there have been a lot of great benefits. These companies are able to pivot more quickly to changing consumer needs, market disruptions such as AI, economic challenges and anything else that comes their way. 


Companies that are agile have found that they’re able to better utilize their team members because they’re giving people permission to be their best selves and contribute to innovative new ideas. They also need fewer people to do the same work, so they can invest in technology for mundane tasks, while upskilling key roles. 


Where it used to take companies several months to deliver marketing campaigns with a heavy emphasis on strategy and planning, marketing departments are now able to incorporate data and analytics to make more real-time decisions and modify marketing deliverables without a lot of effort. 

We’re seeing less of a focus on the process of agile and more on just working smarter. Agile is no longer just for software development teams—its benefits have evolved to marketing, human resources, finance, education and people’s personal lives. 


I think we’re about to enter a revolutionary new phase of agility. It’s no longer going to be about Scrum or a framework—I think it’s going to be about customers, data and moving quickly, no matter how a company wants to achieve those things. There will no longer be a choice to “transform to agile.” Without agility, companies simply won’t survive the future. 

What successful cases of agile transformations have you had the opportunity to observe that have particularly stood out to you? 


A retail company that had a leader who was really great at innovation and change sticks with me to this day. He continuously met with the department to share desired outcomes, but never once told anyone how to work. While this was really uncomfortable for some people, others embraced it. I noticed team members really taking ownership of their work. One team self-selected a developer to become a Scrum Master because of his passion for this role. He was one of the better people I’ve seen do this job because the team elected him and he was willing to learn. 


Another company, which produced government communications, also had a leader that embraced agility. This leader was a former team member, so he really understood how to empower team members. I saw these teams really own their work and look for ways to continuously improve their teams. They found creative ways to balance innovation with the product owner’s needs. Every Friday they took great pride in showcasing their work to the entire company and getting real-time feedback. 


More recently, I worked with a Fortune 50 insurance company’s CMO to transform marketing to agile. Having someone at the top of the food chain saying that the company is changing and evolving was a great way to get everyone (or at least most people) on board. The pilot team I worked with was able to sell more insurance policies than ever before by rapidly delivering experiments with a dedicated team.  

Will agile practices continue to generate interest? What challenges do you see in the context of deploying these practices? 


I think agile is going to be the way everyone works, but I’m not sure agile transformations and teams of coaches teaching practices will always be around. I think there will be a lot less focus on things like user stories and story points and more focus on team dynamics and how they integrate with technology and consumers’ changing behaviors. I think data and analytics will take a bigger role in agile than ever before. It will definitely be interesting to see! 

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