Regardless of whether an organization subscribes to a bimodal IT approach, one thing is clear: It’s more important, and more difficult, than ever to fight the agility-stability paradox. Today’s businesses must build on a delicate balance of being compliant, plan-driven and keeping the lights on while also seeking ways to become more fluid and agile with high customer touch. The barriers standing between these two key initiatives are numerous and complex; whether it’s mismatched technology or a lack of mutual understanding, the agility-stability paradox remains.
In a lot of ways, this paradox comes down to a difference between traditional and new forms of IT. Traditional IT can be described as predictable–it’s compliant and plan-driven, with conventional processes and long-term cycles. But as the next generation of IT starts to take hold, today’s businesses must find ways to also fold in a new IT that’s dynamic, fluid, agile and continuous, with short cycles and high customer touchpoints. In this way, traditional IT and new IT are polar opposites, and many companies struggle to find a balance between the two. Competing attitudes, too much change at once and tooling challenges all stand in the way of harmony between the reliability of the traditional approach and the need for agility in the new way of doing things.
Balance is Possible
While there is no magic tool or wand that can solve for the incongruities so many organizations face, balance is possible. Enterprises don’t have to choose reliability, customer experience, uptime and performance over agility, release velocity, new markets and competitive response. The real secret to overcoming the agility/stability paradox lies in establishing who, what and how. What this means is that with the right people, processes and tools in place, any company can achieve the balance between agility and stability needed for success.
People serve as the “who” of finding balance between reliability and agility. This is the chance to integrate your culture into solving the agility/stability paradox. Start by identifying how each member of the team needs to adapt and shift to accommodate changes. The real trick to getting the people aspect of things right is communication. Define a communication path and be really clear about why your organization needs to transform, how it will be transformed and when everyone can start expecting to see some real adjustments take shape. Orchestrate a response mechanism across your teams and enable social operations collaboration to facilitate execution. Be sure to provide ongoing updates and encourage feedback.
Now that you’ve established who needs to play a role in overcoming the agility/stability paradox, it’s time to talk about what exactly needs to change. Process is absolutely crucial here. There are a few keys to establishing the right process for balancing traditional and new IT models. The first is to identify, and not dictate. Dictating change from the top down is never going to be effective. Instead, work together to determine areas of weakness and highlight them. Use your observations as a guide, not a mandate.
From a more tactical perspective, be sure to streamline workflows wherever you can. Define instead of inheriting urgencies and alerts. Don’t be afraid to rely on automation wherever possible, either. By automating processes that help out on the people side of things, you can free up your team to spend less time on tedious, manual tasks and focus more on innovation.
Tools are your best friend when it comes down to actually making all this change happen. Considering the vast number of tools in the market, choosing a toolset may appear daunting at first. But if you start with strong integration across the operational modes already in place, then you’re already in good shape. In particular, to bring new, agile IT into the fold, you’ll want to incorporate IT service management (ITSM) solutions and establish a DevOps tool chain.
Don’t Boil the Ocean
The most important thing to remember is to start small—you don’t have to boil the ocean. Build a culture where traditional and new IT environments are encouraged to work closely together, where you can build and run software that addresses both agility and reliability to respond to the pressures on the business. Start by defining what is is right for your team and organization and acknowledge the existing culture and people. Don’t be afraid to experiment and create isolated learning environments, either. Just make sure to maintain a clear connection to customer value and use this as your North Star. Finally, don’t forget to celebrate. Celebrate your failures and learn quickly from them.
About the Author / Manish Kalra
Manish Kalra is director of Product Marketing at PagerDuty. He is responsible for driving product marketing strategy, product positioning, launches and collateral development for the PagerDuty incident management platform. Prior to PagerDuty, he served as Director of Product Marketing at companies like Sumo Logic and Splunk.