Effectiveness in a Bimodal Environment

Gartner coined the term Bimodal in 2015 as a proposed model for enabling differentiation of delivery models for exploratory undertakings from initiatives for which the outcome is more predictable. <Gartner Paper Link Here> They suggested “marrying a more predictable evolution of products and technologies (Mode 1) with the new and innovative (Mode 2) is the essence of an enterprise bimodal capability.”

At the time there was a significant backlash to this proposal. Many saw it as a suggestion to divide an organisation and challenged the intent behind it. Since that time, many organisations have evolved the definition and now refer to Bimodal in the context of a business environment with more than one delivery model.

The transition towards large scale Agile delivery and the intent to move towards Lean Portfolio Management has led to a bunch of organisations becoming “half pregnant”. They need to continue to operate traditional delivery models for some parts of their organisation, while other parts are operating agile delivery models. For some of these organisations, it is not yet clear how long they will be in this bimodal delivery state.

These organisations will have to find ways to continue to be effective despite the challenges a Bimodal environment presents. Our experience shows us that by focussing on the following five keys, organisations can reduce their impediments and maintain delivery velocity:

  • Culture: Establish respect for the alternate delivery model. Remove the debate of which model is better. Focus on what works in a practical sense and engage for an outcome.
  • Funding: Clarify the acceptable funding models for the organisation. Project Funding and Capacity Funding are different models and require different decisions.  Clarify funding agreements for work being shared across models.
  • Work / Delivery: Teams may need to engage across delivery methods in order to achieve their intended outcome efficiently. Clear articulation of how teams engage others will save time. Lots of time!
  • Dependency Management: Where teams are dependent on others for an outcome, but the source of the item has the right to prioritise their own work, a clear approach to dependency management will be required.
  • Decision Making: Agility necessitates localised decision making and challenges conventional command and controlled based centralised governance. To speed up decision making, clarify the acceptable model and focus on achieving good, fast decisions that clear impediments and create a clear runway.

These are not the only considerations in being effective in a Bimodal environment. The organisation will need to address all kinds of challenges, but these should give any organisation a good start in the right direction.

For further information see our service page Bimodal Delivery Adopting Agile or give us a call.