The key with ITIL Practitioner is developing an improved and/or new enabled capability in yourself and for the future of ITSM. At the end of September 2016, itSMF Sweden put on a workshop event in Copenhagen, Denmark. The intent being to raise awareness and understanding about ITIL Practitioner but it turned into so much more. It in no way replaces the certification training but certainly provides context, challenges thought patterns, opens discussion and practical experiences.
Without giving away the surprises that you’ll experience in this workshop, I’ve highlighted a few interesting aspects and results. We are faced with a challenging future and are at risk of spiralling further downward if we continue on the same track of behaviour that has statistics such as greater than 50% of projects fail purely due to people resistance. We need to ensure that improvement projects are not delivered in isolation, but with greater collaboration. At the heart of being a practitioner, no matter at what point you are along the improvement initiative line, is recognising that Customer Intimacy = Greater Value.
There’s no one or right way in which to solve these issues except to commit to making a difference. Be willing and make ourselves capable. In exploring ITIL Practitioner, we come to understand it is about the difference of knowing the path versus walking the path. To start exploring the path, the workshop went through a number of exercises that focussed around:
- Find the Guiding Principles treasure;
- Digging into the people side of change;
- Discovering the heart of telling the story; and
- Avoiding the data hoarder trap
A few months ago, I witnessed the poor result Paul Wilkinson received when he asked his attendees in a session to raise their hands if they knew the ITIL definition of a service. This takes us right back to basics. Paul highlighted that less than 5% of 15,000 ITIL adoptees know the definition of a Service. This is not about having an eidetic memory but something deeper. If we cannot distil the meaning of a service how are we meant to design and/or improve it?
During the workshop, we broke down the elements of the definition and it created an eye-opening experience. Discussions focussed on the importance of each element from the perspective of both the customer and to IT. The discoveries were:
- To clearly express a service is hard
- It’s important to explore the different perspectives and angles
- You must reach a consensus
- Avoid going into the detail until you are ready to plan it out
- It takes Business Relationship Management
ITSM professionals must consider how the initiative directly or indirectly supports the delivery of value to the customers.
Finding the Guiding Principles Treasure
Before exploring the three core elements of ITIL Practitioner, it is important to understand how the Guiding Principles fit with, challenge or change your organisation’s culture and thinking patterns.
As a facilitator, it is very satisfying when the purpose of an exercise is fulfilled and the outcomes also provide something worthwhile for all. What the groups first thought would be a simple enough exercise, created some angst as it was very much opinion based. Not only asking to place the guiding principles in order of importance but diving deeper into the Attitude, Behaviour & Culture (ABC) very much showed how much disparity and/or alignment can exist within a group. Taking the top 15 ABC for ICT card situations and asking the groups to map which guiding principles were lacking and which will deal with the pain points brings us back to the point that you can use any combination of guiding principles but not without respecting other people’s perspectives and an understanding of the ABC (attitude, behaviour & culture) of the organisation.
Digging into the People Side of Change
Time to get to the very human face of change. Using photos from some of my favourite movie moments, I asked the groups to describe the facial expressions shown in the context of an ITSM change. This is a telling exercise to do in any improvement team initiative as it highlights the ‘unsaid’ and the ‘misunderstood’.
It is clear, specially given that the workshop is delivered in English, doing this in other countries widens or narrows the emotional/mental language vocabulary and understanding this is an important part of the emotional intelligence required to lead, manage and assist people through a change.
During the Stakeholder Management exercises, the lessons learned were strong and highlighted the intensity of the impact across all stages of Organisational Change Management. It is often harder to gauge who the organisation is when you are an external IT Service Provider. Specially before the project starts. Getting to know the organisation and the people within it takes time. This is where internal service providers have the advantage as they are already in it and have a better finger on the pulse in being able to identify the ‘silent’ stakeholders and the ‘power structure’ vs. the ‘management structure’. Understanding the ‘who do I collaborate with?’ question is a deeper dive.
Another lesson assisting the stakeholder analysis is how you can best leverage the positives that already exist within the organisation and deal with any resistance. It takes time to cultivate new abilities and allow it to become a part of what I call the ‘new normal’. We explored thinking patterns (including Sandbox and Intelligent Disobedience), emotional intelligence, ADKAR and Balanced Diversity.
The Heart of Storytelling
When we’re not feeling well within ourselves, or if we break a bone or such like, our body’s information highway becomes less effective, disrupted or obstructed. This is no different to what can happen with an improvement initiative. Communication is often lacking or misdirected. Looking at our key stakeholders and understanding the character they play in our improvement narrative helps us get to the heart of the story and build a better communication plan and ongoing nexus for the culture of collaboration and communication.
Through story writing techniques, we can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. What would be your pitch to include an OCM program into your improvement initiative? This facet takes our current understanding of communication to another level focussing on engagement plus enablement as a success formula.
Avoiding the data hoarder trap
The ‘Numbers Racket’ is a deadly business for the unwary. There is already a plethora of information on KPIs and metrics so in this area of the workshop, I opted for a different perspective. We took a look at the data junky syndrome and how that can be avoided using tools like a KPI decision matrix, data dictionaries and reporting matrices.
In the end, the workshop is about bringing it all together, how our exploration takes an idea and even ideals and makes them real – a journey experienced by the customers and the makers.
Become inspired and explore how you too can have the confidence to deliver improvement initiatives.
I would like to acknowledge Karen Ferris of Macanta Consulting, Stuart Rance of Optimal Service Management Ltd and Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks. Not only are they part of the ITIL Practitioner Axelos Architect team but people with who I continue to engage for learning. Always generous in sharing their thoughts, ideas and experience, they provided great input in ideas to developing this Workshop.