In his book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahnemann describes two types of thinking.
- System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.
- System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice and concentration.*
Traditionally, IT has been in a System 2 state of mind; i.e. carefully planning projects, deployments, upgrades and operations with deliberation, intense focus, full attention and explicit beliefs in what should be done. But the digital age is asking it to adopt a System 1 type of consciousness to deliver innovative, differentiating, customer-sentient “products” quickly. Without too much ratiocination, features are thrown into the ring and delivery performed in mini-releases. Instead of knowing what is right, “what feels right” is good enough.
“No sense of voluntary control” aside – and the fact that the numbers are switched – it is interesting to apply Kahnemann’s approach to Gartner’s concept for bimodal IT. Described by Gartner as “the practice of managing two separate but coherent styles of work: one focused on predictability; the other on exploration,” bimodal does include the elements of speed, spontaneity and surprise.
Yet don’t be fooled into thinking that Mode 2 means a “coding-cowboy” free-for-all. Even Kahnemann writes “[There are] also circumstances in which System 2 takes over, overruling the freewheeling impulses and associations of System 1.”
An example: using IT planning and portfolio management to keep all stakeholders tethered to the strategy and targeting the desired business outcomes. It is the basic tenet of Software AG’sAlfabetsoftware for business and IT transformation: the ability to move forward on business and IT strategy in a world of constantly changing parameters.
A recent Software AG webinar, “Accelerating digital delivery with bimodal,” describes how a bimodal approach can accelerate IT delivery – and business change as a whole – to deliver business agility. It examines the role of IT planning and portfolio management in performing a digital assessment to find out where you need agility and where it would make sense to use a Mode 2 approach for particular business capabilities and applications.
Take a look and think – first fast but then slow – about how IT portfolio management could help you leverage agility to support digital business.
*Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahnemann, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux