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Scale the Bimodal Business

Six key principles to scale bimodal business in your organization.

As CEOs start to refocus their attention on technology, they are looking to CIOs to help lead the digital transformation.

“CIOs are under pressure to innovate more,” said Simon Mingay, research vice president, at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Barcelona, Spain. “The reality is that, for many organizations, they’ve not exercised that innovation muscle for a significant period of time.”

CIOs should look to bimodal business to help the business move toward digital. Bimodal is two distinctly different but coherent styles of developing and delivering change. Mode 1 focuses on making the existing business digital-ready. Mode 2 is more exploratory, using experiments to solve new problems.

CIOs need to recognize and reward collaborative work when trying bimodal.

The bimodal journey has three parts: Start, scale and synthesize. First, enterprises need to create Mode 2, and ensure that Mode 1 and Mode 2 can work independently on small contained projects that emphasize learning. This phase is meant to build confidence to use during the scale phase. To scale, companies need to take bimodal to an enterprise level, with the ability to take on more projects with increased complexity and interdependencies. During the synthesis phase, bimodal becomes systemic.

Read More: Lead with a Bimodal Mindset

Once bimodal has been established, follow these six key principles to scale it in your organization:

Shared Goals, Shared Values, Coherent Metrics, Collaborative Culture

Bimodal requires a single business strategy and a single vision that unites everyone. Despite the two modes, the entire enterprise needs to operate under a cohesive strategy that will create a collaborative culture. CIOs need to recognize and reward collaborative work when trying bimodal.

Bimodal Is Very Experiential

“This is very much something you need to show, don’t tell,” said Mr. Mingay. Bimodal needs to be experienced, and it’s important to introduce the organization to the idea. To build support, select a few small projects and demonstrate how bimodal will work.

Read More: Busting Bimodal Myths

Go Narrow and Deep, Then Wide — The Key to Raising Everyone’s Game

Select a particular aspect of the business and focus only on bimodal in that area. Use that one area of the company to go “deep” with bimodal techniques by working to make it agile, employ DevOps, and utilize lean startup techniques and innovation techniques. Once you’ve developed “deep” bimodal in one business unit, start to move the same principles across other units. Add one team, then another, to go “wide” within the business.

Mode 2 Is Your Nursery

Mode 2 is the place to develop capabilities as plants would develop strong roots in a nursery. After they are strong, transplant the capabilities out to the Mode 1 organization.

You Cannot Scale Unless You Renovate the Core

The core environment must be ready for digital work. Mode 1 will be mainly responsible for addressing issues with core technology. This includes tasks such as implementing an API architecture, modernizing the application portfolio or implementing the hybrid cloud. Bimodal doesn’t mean IT teams can ignore the key technology. However, Mode 2 can be used as a lever to get the business to invest in the core. CIOs and their teams must showcase the potential for what the technology core could offer if the business is willing to invest. Renovating the core is vital to scaling bimodal operations.

Optimize the System, Don’t Just Implement Methods

Bimodal can’t be a checklist of capabilities that are created and not used. Physically map out the process of getting the best ideas incorporated into products and services. Look at where the delays are, and apply the capabilities (i.e., agile, DevOps) to those areas. Being able to show where in the process these techniques will help the organization improve agility and speed. The key will be to apply lean principles to create agility, speed, velocity and innovation.

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