Using martech role types to build and maintain teams
Scott Brinker's role categorization can aid team building and planning.
During Discover MarTech 2020, I moderated a birds of a feather session focused on Scott Brinker’s martech role categorization. The discussion surfaced ideas for applying these categorizations. A participant mentioned that the framework could help form and maintain martech (or more general marketing) teams.
Brinker’s framework involves two conceptual axes that lead to four types of martech roles – maestro, marketer, modeler, and maker. First, the four different roles fall along a continuum of external (outreach to audiences) to internal (coordination of marketing activities) focus. Second, they also are measured along a continuum between technology (building and using technology) and process (strategy and execution).
It’s important to note that a specific position rarely falls neatly into one quadrant; further, due to individual circumstances, roles will have their own flavor at each organization. Additionally, like anything, martech is a complex discipline that’s not easily categorized based upon a couple of factors, but Brinker’s framework offers significant value when building and maintaining teams.
As I mentioned in my article about the maestro and orchestrator role, the framework helps us more precisely define and communicate what’s involved in a particular role in job descriptions. Thus, we should consider it when determining skills and expertise gaps within a team but as well as when drafting job descriptions.
A tool: RACI charts
An important factor with teams is assigning responsibilities and duties. A helpful tool to use in conjunction with the categorization framework is a RACI chart. RACI stands for: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. Using spreadsheets is one way to create these charts and helps foster a productive discussion among stakeholders when developing them. Each row in such a sheet could host a duty and function (grouping them by associated role type can help tie them to positions) while each column could represent each existing/proposed position on the team. Then populate each cell with R, A, C, or I. This exercise will help determine division of labor and team structure.
A RACI chart can certainly help when drafting a job description. For instance, in many cases the duties and responsibilities are in bullet form. The description of each would likely easily represent a bullet point.
The RACI chart creation exercise can also help with skill analysis. Each team member can then assess their expertise and performance for each responsibility. When people are given the protection to honestly assess themselves, they should find which deficiencies they have, and this is an essential step toward addressing those by identifying training resources to remedy the shortcomings. When it comes to job description drafting this helps define required skills and then helps when evaluating the credentials and experience of job candidates.
Companies like CabinetM and Digital Marketer, as well as career coaches, offer services for skill audits.
Specialists and generalists
It is important to consider the various circumstances in which a team might find itself. A small organization may need to divvy out duties from or expect individuals to actively work in multiple quadrants, while larger organizations may have the scale to allow individuals to specialize in a specific quadrant. This is when understanding I- and T-shaped practitioners can help, which I wrote more in depth about in another article.
When a team needs individuals to span different quadrants (perhaps as T-shaped practitioners), it is important to consider which combinations make most sense. For instance, is it likely that a person is both an exceptionally persuasive writer naturally inclined to use eloquent prose, and an expert data cruncher who has remarkable quantitative skills paired with sound reasoning capabilities? It is possible, but are there enough qualified people out there for the organization to recruit?
Additionally, a team that has the luxury of individuals working as quadrant specialists (like I-shaped practitioners) should consider the need for cross training. Martech professionals – like those in virtually all fields – need to understand what happens at a high level so that team members can work more cohesively as they understand what each other contribute and need. Further, there are times when we all need to step out of our lanes to help expedite progress.
Using Brinker’s categorization can help inform team creation and maintenance by facilitating division of labor and responsibility, skills analysis, and position alignment. These aren’t easy tasks, and we should welcome help and guidance.