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Do you have Type 1 or Type 2 IT?
30 April 2015

yin

Are you Type 1 – traditional IT or Type 2 – agile IT? Is it possible to be both traditional and agile? After all tradition is a concept which has been around for a very long time, the word has its origins in the 1300’s and traditions everywhere have survived. Tradition is synonymous with “tried and true”, so if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

Information technology has had many significant changes over the last thirty years, in particular the last five years and who knows just what the next five years have in store.  What we do know is change is happening quickly as IT companies keep looking for that next competitive edge.  This is what created the “Agile IT” movement.

One could say Agile IT has become a tradition.  Its origins do go back fourteen years to 2001 and that is a long time in IT.  Back then a group of people looked for a better way to manage software development and implementation and came up with a manifesto of four values—

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

This will enable followers to be always ready for change and be adaptable with implementations which are not necessarily perfect but quick.

Traditional IT means careful planning, testing and implementation geared to getting it right the first time and having a “Plan B” prepared as well.  From a customer’s point of view, that sounds ideal.

But then a customer will always want their implementation on-time and on-budget, so aspects of Agile IT would also be attractive.  Bring in Bimodal IT.  According to Gartner this is where the two quite distinct IT approaches exist in the same organisation – Agile IT caters to the growing needs of the business, while Traditional IT ensures the technology functions as it should.

According to Professor of Strategy and Organisation Design, Phanish Puranam, “most new ideas are re-combinations of old ideas and constraints are good for innovation”, much like necessity is the mother of invention.  Based on these observations Traditional IT has the old ideas with Agile IT could reinvent and not having free reign could initiate the reinvention of old ideas.

Gartner says “Agile IT rolls out today’s updates, changes, and quickly evolving technologies, while Traditional IT continues to develop the long-term plans and goals, manages technology budgets, and takes a disciplined approach to deployments.”

Should these two methodologies co-habit in the one team or be two teams?  Two teams would just add another level of complexity to what is already a complex area.  But can the two types work together effectively?  They appear to be opposing forces but so are yin and yang and they rely on each other and work together not against each other.

Then there is Cloud Compute surely this is the blend of Type 1 and Type 2.  The Type 1 activity is outsourced which then enables Type 2 activity being innovation which aligns the organisation’s requirements with its business goals and still with the same team.  It could be that within every Type 1, there is a Type 2 waiting to break out.