ITSM: don’t try to run before you can walk

by admin | on Avr 08, 2014 | No Comments

To run before you can walk!  One of the worst diseases of our times, and the world of ITSM (IT Service Management) is certainly not immune to it!  No time any longer to learn and to understand.  Everything must go faster and faster.  We are so preoccupied with going faster that we end up forgetting where we are actually going.  We lose the meaning of our endeavour, like the headless chicken continuing to run, not yet realising its head has gone.

It is in this loss of meaning that the problem lays

We act like sheep:  we simply follow the flow without understanding, without seeing we have taken a wrong turn and without realising that we are doing more harm than good.

Today, many organisations join the ITIL® marathon (ITIL® is a registered trade mark of Axelos) simply because everyone else is running in the race.  Who are the managers who have the intelligence and the courage to ask themselves challenging questions before starting out the road, or to stop when doubts appear in order to take the time to check that the course they are following will indeed lead to a better quality of service and to better performance?

The vogue is such that many managers making the decision to follow the ITIL path don’t actually understand all the ‘ins and outs’ of it.  They are faced with so many pressures of all sorts that they simply put their trust in what the market does.  They allow themselves to be convinced by the seductive message of vendors and so-called experts, with the illusion that ITIL will provide a solution to their problems.  And they start running, or rather they make the others (their staff) run, without paying any heed to their feedback, their complaints and their warnings.

So where is the error?

The main error is to run headlong into the implementation of ITIL without first defining a strategic vision

To walk would be to take time to understand that the implementation of ITIL is primarily a strategic decision, a concern for management and not a set of kitchen recipes to be imposed on staff.

Do you know that in the early days of ITIL, the Foundation level of certification did not exist?  ITIL was aimed at managers only and that made sense because putting processes in place represents a significant cultural and organisational change, which is a responsibility of management.  This understanding that ‘Service Management’ is indeed a ‘management’ matter has been gradually lost in the mists of time.

Today many managers see ITSM as simple mechanics, especially as it is extensively described in the ITIL publications.  Actually, they don’t grasp the managerial depth of the approach and they miss the all-important first step, the vision and strategic planning.

In their defence, it is the whole ITIL community that has become lost in this mechanical approach to ITSM.  The ITIL books describe good practices for a variety of service management processes.  They mention quite briefly the cultural and organisational change that is needed but with no further detail and definitely without sufficiently pointing out its importance and the necessity to manage it at strategic level.

This is the main error from which most issues flow that are observed in ITSM initiatives:

  • Doing ITIL for the sake of it, without asking oneself questions about what is really useful in the here and now
  • Adopting ITIL without adapting it to the needs and maturity of the organisation
  • Not taking time to consolidate the improvements made before proceeding with the next step (not applying the Deming cycle)
  • Giving preference to the words of ITIL rather than the spirit
  • Having processes written by external consultants which your staff do not buy into
  • Etc.

I could expand this list but it would not add a great deal to my message:  to learn to walk before you run means taking time for a meaningful strategic reflection before throwing the organisation into the great adventure which is ITSM.

I hope you have found this article useful food for thoughts and I encourage you to go further in your reflection.

Categories: Service Management, Strategy

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