Bimodal IT Takes a Bimodal Work Culture

    August 10, 2016

    By Per Bauer

    While IT professionals must have a deep understanding of the technical details, to make operations more efficient, they need to master a skill that’s not so technical: teamwork.

    IT departments today are becoming increasingly divided. Some strive to incorporate a bimodal structure -- with Mode 1 running legacy IT processes while Mode 2 focuses on innovation, agility, and speed. Others object to the idea of bimodal itself, arguing that there are more speeds than fast and slow in today’s IT, making the model inadequate.

    In spite of all the contention, what’s clear is that traditional IT operations will have to depart from their inherited methods and technologies if they hope to keep up with the dynamic flexibility of the modern market.

    By and large, this has little to do with technology. The fact is that, regardless of how you choose to label it, turning IT into an agile organization capable of facing tomorrow’s challenges requires winning hearts and minds on a personal level. And unlike the systems they operate, IT professionals (as well as enterprise employees at large), can’t simply be reprogrammed to take a new take on things.

    Creating a bimodal work culture takes hard work at every level of an organization, and should figure as a top-of-mind problem for department leaders.

    “Cultural Change Above All Else”

    Almost anticipating the current criticism of bimodal IT, Gartner (they coined the term) stressed in an April 2015 report that, in no uncertain terms, “If you fail at cultural change, you will fail to reap the rewards of bimodal.” The core problem is that, while professionals at every level can easily appreciate that change is necessary and pressing, many doubt that their organization could handle the initial shock of shifting their focus entirely into innovation and exploration.

    Indeed, over 85% of those polled in a Gartner survey felt that cultural change was the biggest obstacle to implementing a bimodal framework. This same doubt fuels the current critique of bimodal; ZDNet reports that many IT professionals see the “pioneers” of Mode 2 as fundamentally incompatible with the “town planners” of Mode 1.

    It’s a line of thinking that seems fairly intuitive; how can two groups work together when the job of the former is to dismantle and disrupt the work of the latter? Legacy IT professionals might be rightly suspicious of agile developers (even if disruption is ultimately good for the company at large).

    But the truth is that this dichotomy is a false one. Regardless of these internal tensions, there’s no getting around it: companies must look to the future and adopt new methods, even as they maintain the quality of their currently offered services. In order to institute effective cultural changes within an organization, company leaders have to convince employees at every level that innovation benefits everyone at the company.

    Showing Is Better Than Telling

    As Gartner recommends, organizations should address cultural change as a crucial element of becoming bimodal, rather than leave it as an afterthought. For that message to have a real impact, employees need to understand the necessity for technical changes from both an IT and a financial perspective. In other words, stakeholders need to see a bimodal transition in terms of its ability to create business value.

    Pointing out these opportunities is much easier when you have risk and performance management tools that translate complicated trends into simple figures. For instance, with TeamQuest’s Vityl Suite, IT professionals can indicate the health and risk of IT infrastructure in a straightforward 1-100 measure, as well as demonstrate the business value of initiatives in dollar figures. This not only helps to get employees on board with bimodal strategies, but serves as an ongoing book of record for the success of your programs.

    In most cases, it appears that apprehension about bimodal IT reflects a broader resistance to change within the industry. It’s much easier to overcome those doubts when you can conclusively demonstrate where changes can have a positive, win-win impact for all interested parties.


    Category: devops