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Bimodal in an Agile-Everywhere World

by David Norton  |  September 30, 2016  |  Comments Off on Bimodal in an Agile-Everywhere World

It is a fact of life that we all live and work with degrees of certainty and complexity. There are problems and situations we know, understand and can solve with well-understood practices and process — the world of “known-knowns.” And there are more complex problems with higher degrees of uncertainty be it technical, people or business environment – the world of “unknown unknowns.”

In essence, this is bimodal — either you know what to do and you do it using best practice (Mode 1), or you don’t know and have to experiment and use empirical feedback (Mode 2). This is a simplification, yet it highlights a misunderstanding of bimodal: It’s not about the method of delivery ( waterfall vs. agile), it’s about the strategy of managing the uncertainty and complexity in the problem and solution space.

Rolling our enterprise agile, DevOps, and cloud across the entire organization does not mean you are a mode 2 only company. If that were true, we would effectively be saying there are no Mode 1 areas of certainty and understanding – and that does not make for a sustainable business.

In “Bimodal in an Agile-Everywhere World“, and standing on the shoulders of giants, Dave Snowden (Cynefin Framework) and Ralph Stacey (Stacey Matrix); we explore how different levels of uncertainty lead to different outcomes, and business and team experience, even when using the common Web-Scale practices. CIO’s can leverage these differences for business advantage and to optimize the delivery process.

Long after the last monolithic application is retired, and waterfall software development is a dim and distant memory we will still be living in a bimodal world.


Category: agile  bimodal  

David Norton
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

In his role as research director with Gartner's application development and architecture team, David Norton supports clients by developing and delivering quality and timely research. Read Full Bio

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