Literature—never mind popular culture—loves dualism, the tendency to explain the world using two competing forces. Good and evil. Dark and light. The sacred and the profane. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Chocolate and peanut butter. The list goes on.
Lately people have been using dualism to explain IT as two-speed or bi-modal. In this divide IT can fall into either the traditional model of “keeping the lights on,” or it can be more agile and innovative. Industry analytsts who espouse this notion insist that in the new world of digital, it must be both.
This dual construct is a convenient structure that underscores the point that operationally-focused IT teams risk being marginalized or replaced. But it also risks simplifying a complex issue involving corporate culture, leadership styles, reward systems, and corporate politics to name just a few of the forces that inform IT behaviors.
In The New IT: How IT Leaders Are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age, I lay out six different profiles—I call them archetypes—that describe different organizational preferences of IT teams. They’re summarized here:
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