A fool with a tool is still a fool.
More than 10 years has passed since GamingWorks first published their book IT Service Management From Hell: A Guide to Worst Practices. 10 years later there still appear to be too many fools in IT. In this series of four guest blogs, IT Service Management from Hell co-author Paul Wilkinson will be looking at the reasons and giving some best practice advice for solving this ongoing problem.
Find part one of the series here, part two here and part three here.
In the previous three blogs we have examined the continuing lack of business and IT alignment, exploring how worst practices in ABC (Attitude, Behavior and Culture) underpin our lack of alignment as well as the way in which we adopt and deploy the frameworks such as ITIL. We stressed the need to ensure that attitudes are changed so that everybody understands the value they must deliver to the business and that we must translate the value propositions into all our initiatives. In this final blog we examine how our approach to applying people, Product, Process and Partner needs improving.
The second aspect of the four ‘P’s that can be improved upon?
2. The ‘holistic’ approach.
Last year ‘leverage’ was the hot buzzword used by consultants. This year it seems to be ‘holistic’. So if we say we need to leverage a holistic approach then we must really be top notch consultants. It is the failure to adopt a really integrated or holistic approach that causes many initiatives to fail. This stems from the different levels of ‘maturity’ of IT organizations. Some leap onto the ‘PROCESS’ bandwagon, adopt a framework like ITIL, produce process flows and procedures and ‘throw them over the wall and hope that people will follow them’. Other organizations are so technology focused they throw a tool at the problem. Creating the situation of ‘a fool with a tool is still a fool’. The most common approach to addressing the ‘People’ side is simply to send people en masse to ITIL training, assuming that when they return they will be able to magically ‘do’ ITIL.
This point is partly proven by the fact that the ABC of ICT survey revealed “throwing solutions over the wall and hoping people will adopt them” scores number five in the top ten worst practices. This applies to both the ‘Process’ focus, and to the ‘Product’ or tool focus. The largest common failing in applying the four ‘P’s is too little effort and energy on the most important P – People. Says who? Successful ITSM improvement initiatives are all about changing the behavior of people. People don’t like to change. Indeed another Forrester report revealed that 52% of these types of initiatives fail because of resistance. In our mind it is ABC that is the fundamental success or fail factor for tool focused or process focused initiatives.
This point is proved by the results of a survey into the key success factors from 1000 students having participated in an ITSM simulation. The biggest single success factor was ‘people’ scoring 44%. (In the ITSM simulation teams had to translate a set of business demands into the four ‘P’s and demonstrate that they could deliver the performance demanded by the business).
Now you have read all four blogs you can test whether your ITSM improvement initiative will close the ever widening gap between business and IT.
- Ask a selection of your IT employees to tell you what a service is according to ITIL.
‘a service is a means of delivering value to the business in terms of outcomes the customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks’. Ask them ‘What VALUE and OUTCOMES does the business demand and expect from ITIL?
- Go and look at the project plans and proposals for all tool, process and training programs or any partner agreements and sourcing initiatives and look for the business case. Is there a section related to the value and outcomes these initiatives must achieve?
- Look at your ITSM improvement initiatives. Is there a balance in the amount of effort between the four ‘P’s? Is there a significant investment in ‘People’? Ensuring the ABC worst practices described in the previous blogs have and will be addressed? And that initiatives are taken to ensure that this will not be one of the 52% of initiatives that fail due to resistance?
- If the answers to these tests are negative you now have to ask yourself the question “what AM I going to do about it?” Remember one of the top three ABC worst practices is “not my responsibility”. If you do nothing about it who else will? I’ll see you in 10 years time. My presentation slides are already made.