#138 – Dual Operating System

In his book Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World from 2014, John Kotter describes an organizational structure model (”the Dual Operating System”) that enables organizations to both do rapid development of new ideas and models in a network-based way, while still supporting the operational stability needed to efficiently manage the business in a more hierarchical structure–thus, supporting both revolutionary and evolutionary innovation in the same organization.

The challenge is if your organization misuses this approach as an excuse to not make the needed systemic changes to truly reap the real benefits of working agile, such as an increased adaptability, a faster and more frequent value delivery, and happier and more motivated teams. If keeping the original Operating System makes your organization hold on to your traditional, yearly based funding model with Cost Center Allocation, govern the deliveries through a waterfall-based stage-gate model around your Sprints, and keep the ultimate product accountability with Managers and not Product Owners, you’ve failed with both the Dual Operating System and with agile; it’s about maximizing your value-add and minimizing your overhead, and having to map between two ways of working (i.e. Operating Systems) is not the way to do it, so pick one.