Fans of the Bimodal IT theory may well use today’s announcement by the Home Office that it is merging its digital and technology departments into one team as a justification for their two-speed operations. I’d temper that enthusiasm if I were them.
Technology leader of the Home Office Sarah Wilkinson has merged two distinct teams into a new Digital, Data and Technology service at the Home Office following a year and a half of rapid transformation and re-skilling of the technology capabilities of the Home Office. The time has come for all technology operations to be focused on the user now the infrastructure is in place.
The Home Office approach, I would argue is not Bimodal, but what former GLH Hotels CTO Chris Hewertson described to me as a “ship alongside” with a team focused on and delivering a core technology transformation whilst another focuses on delivering the digital services today’s communities and employees expect. The two teams cannot remain distinct though and as Wilkinson has done, they must combine around the needs of the community they serve.
“This is a great opportunity to create a stronger, more capable team, which is better placed to respond to the needs of the businesses we service,” Wilkinson has said to her team and the department. Responding to the needs of the user is far more important than focusing on the speed of a technology team. The user will dictate the speed required.
I am seeing the ship alongside model growing across the business and innovation leadership community. There are recruiters focusing on creating bolt on teams with leadership and delivery skills all in place. Increasing numbers of technology leaders that I speak to are charting a similar course to Wilkinson. Thus, I struggle with the Bimodal theory, as I know many in the community do, it suggests a permanence of dual speed, whereas Wilkinson and the Home Office demonstrate, a temporary need for a break away team to take the lead and see what is ahead can be crucial, but if the leadership and the organisation are truly focused on the same goal – the customer – then the team must come together as single force to deliver a result.