More for the “I don’t think bi-modal is that far from what all us methodology hipster talk about” file here:
Q. Have you seen organizations that have officially reorganized around a Bimodal approach? What kind of job titles/job descriptions are you seeing?
It’s much less an organizational structure change, and much more about culture, process and method. But yes, it is not unusual in the short to mid-term to differentiate teams. Mode 2 usually starts life as being quite small, and often needs “protection”, to prevent the organizational anti-bodies killing it off. It is better to go narrow and deep and focus the capability on a particular part of the enterprise, or on particular domains like mobile for example. Small IT organizations (<50) don’t have the option to create any kind of split of course).
I'd still wager that most people who complain about bi-modal haven't read up on it too much (it's hard to do, and there's bat-shit expensive paywalls around it). Also, I think Gartner has been filling out the nuance of the original, clear idea: softening it and making it more practical, which makes it more ambiguous.
My theory here – based on conversations with people transforming large organizations – is that the focus here should be on the temperament of the people, not the process. For any given project, the proven process of small batches applies, but you’ll often want “cow-pokes” (risk takers who hate long term commitment) for new projects and “city-folk (enjoy stability) for post-1.0 projects.
There’s a chance for judgement about who the cool kids are vs. the old folks there, but I’d suggest finding that distinction is all about the perceiver. In my career, I’ve found people who are perfectly happy being in one of those two boxes. Problems arise (I think Apple’s negligence for apps their no longer interested in is a good bad result to ponder here), but I feel like it fits the staffing and prioritization needs of most large organizations.
But, I don’t call it “theory” for nuthin’.
Kara Swisher has a short interview with Verizon/AOL’s Tim Armstrong on the Yahoo! buy, which is still “pending of course.” It’s hard to take any interview about a pending acquisition on super face-value (no one wants to show their hand), but there’s some good indication that Verizon followed the “we’ll sort out the strategy details post-sale” plan. Armstrong himself says they’ll be working on figuring out differentiating, and “sources” say:
Verizon has had little insight into a number of issues, including the terms of the contracts with key employees, that it will need to make plans for the future.
I like the theory that the goal is, really, just to optimize the existing business:
“The deal that we contemplated is about growing the company and did not start with synergies,” said Armstrong. “We will be walking through a pretty direct process about what is structure and then cost structure and there will be synergy, but it is not at the top of our list.”
That seems like a low-risk plan. They’d be the biggest site by eyeballs in the US, which ain’t bad.
Also, more coverage from Reuters on the “RemainCo” company of Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan, and a cameo from Rita McGrath in a Will Oremus’s piece at Slate:
“It’s a beautiful example of a company that has a lot of indispensable pieces, but they don’t add up to an indispensable whole,” says Rita McGrath, professor of management at Columbia Business School. Yahoo’s problems, she believes, stemmed from “a fundamental unwillingness to choose” what kind of company it wanted to be.
And, 451 has their report out, by Rich Karpinski and Scott Denne. Some highlights:
- “AOL generates roughly $1bn from its owned media properties – Yahoo pulls in 3.5x that amount.”
- My summary of one of their points: as mobile use grows and grows, over the next 5-10 years, there’s a window for new top-dogs to emerge and take market-share. Seems like a legit theory. 451 describes the market here as: “opportunities in telecom data as a service, a market combining digital advertising, proximity marketing and an array of big-data insight services that 451 Research forecasts will grow to a $79bn addressable opportunity by 2020”
- They’re not big on the advertising technology and networking component in Yahoo!.
- There’s some indication that Verizon’s digital business is doing well, so maybe they’re pretty good at integration acquisitions.
- There’s also details on the financials of “RemainCo.”