There was an old saying that you want to have a team of “doers” rather than “thinkers.” And while there may be some merit to that. Marketing departments have become teams of tactical worker bees. They spend their time firing off emails, making brochures, filming videos, and of course…gather metrics and complete activity reports. When you look at the work week of most departments they kind of operate like a group of administrators rather than marketing professionals. Why is that?

Somewhere along the line a marketing head (a Director or CMO) wanted to have a team to execute on his or her vision. They didn’t actually want the individual team members to take ownership at a strategic level and as long as the chief was sending a robust activity report up the chain of command no one could really complain when the company wasn’t hitting their marketing objectives. After all, they were all certainly busy.

Because of the promise of computers and great software, we slashed budgets to outside agencies because now we didn’t need their help.  We hired individuals who understood how to utilize the technology at the time we hired them. And now, we’re not as agile as we felt we were just ten years ago.

Perhaps now is the time to look at this model objectively and see what went wrong.

The issue is that the technology and the way we communicate with customer is changing way too fast for our departments to maintain their expertise. And the ones right out of college who are experts now, won’t be in five years. And right now, they lack the maturity and experience to be effective big-picture thinkers. Which is exactly what you want your department to be.

Being agile is about having managers within your department who think strategically and empowering them to be almost cut-throat with external resources. Let me fully explain what I mean. Somewhere out there, there is a small agency who understands how to really be effective within the area of social media, or you may be to hone it down to a specific social media channel. Or…an agency that really understands how to make compelling and engaging video and drive views and subscriptions on youtube. You need to find them and use them. You don’t want one big agency handling everything. Eventually you lose your pricing leverage as you become more dependent on their services. And no one, does everything great.

No one want to use the “E” word, but you exploit everything you can from small, hungry agencies. And when the technology shifts and they are no longer the experts you need, you ditch them and move on to the next resource. Your PR manager needs to have the ability to find and assess the outside resources needed to be effective and a budget that provides them flexibility. With that in place, your PR manager can focus on what you hired (or should have hired) them for: messaging, positioning the company, and interacting with the media outlets that our important within your market.

As you organize your department YOU need to be a big picture thinker. If someone is in a position simply because they understand how to use a particular piece of software, you’ve made a mistake. The functional groups within the department should be based on the marketing strategy, and those individuals entrusted to head those functional group need to develop their own strategy, identify the tactical objectives and the external resources to get the job done.

As a general rule, marketing teams are usually larger than they should be, even though most team members feel like they are understaffed.

One of the reasons teams feel understaffed is the ever-growing demand for metrics. Are they important? You be they are. But you should focus on a small set of metrics that are also based on your strategy and goals. And the team member responsible for keeping track of that metric needs to buy in on the importance of improving in that area. As a manager, don’t fall prey to team members who keep changing the metrics they deliver on a regular basis. This may be an attempt to hide a deficiency.

What you want is a team of strategic thinkers, and a small group of trusted (but cheap) external resources.