Bimodal

Modes 1 and 2

It’s tricky to get IT to be resilient and nimble, rock steady and malleable, and for this reason Gartner developed the concept of bimodal IT in 2014:

the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed.

The previous year, McKinsey had argued for the development of greenfield IT (effectively Mode 2):

… the creation of a new technology that lives and is independently managed outside the CIO. The reason for considering this is that so many companies are hampered by legacy technologies that they are unable to be flexible and simply cannot innovate.

Gartner claims that it’s “IT with traditional efficiency and predictability, yet with the agility and speed to use the digital core with utmost effectiveness.” We add a critical caveat – so long as the two modes (of both technology and people) get along together just fine.

Bimodal shapes up to be a realistic response to a multi-faceted challenge and has a lot going for it in our opinion, but others aspire to a more ‘perfect’ single-mode world represented by the combination of continuous delivery and lean IT …

Continuous delivery and lean IT

Continuous delivery couldn’t be more evocative of the flow we’re devoted to. And Lean IT extends lean principles into the realm of IT.

Lean entails the identification and elimination of waste (muda) and unevenness (mura), with the latter effectively synonymous with flow. Lean sensitizes operations to the customer (including those internally), removing anything that gets in the way.

[See Euler sense Spring 2016 (PDF) for lean as a component of the responsive organization.]

Lean IT maps this dedication onto two types of value stream: business services that are directly value adding, and IT services that are wholly necessary and sufficient to deliver the business services.

Now we don’t want to be pedantic, but could it be that lean’s business and IT services bear at least some resemblance to bimodal’s adaptive and systematic IT?

If you agree, this is how we explain that coincidence – there will always be stocks, and we all want to get those flows a-flowing, and we are therefore merely contemplating the juxtaposition of the two. Whether one considers it a hard boundary, or more a graduation, the application of Tribefire in our Data Lab is designed to resolve the incongruity, to play to the strengths and purpose of both modes, and, critically, to do much the same for all the people involved as well as the technology.