A roadblock to improvement
When it comes to your ITSM implementation, does your company suffer from a lack of organizational will?
- It’s the CIO that knows that resources are too busy fire-fighting due to constantly implementing poorly designed and tested changes, but doesn’t want to sign off on a change management policy.
- It’s the service desk technician who doesn’t log all of the contacts she had during the work day, but then complains that she has too much to do.
- It’s the technical team leader who claims his group is utilizing defined standard changes, but those pre-defined models cannot be found within the ITSM tool.
- It’s the manager that really would like to begin a service management initiative, but doesn’t invest in training, books, or external consulting to help her team be successful.
What is the issue? The issue is what I call “organizational will”- or in the above examples, the lack of organizational will. Various members of the organization all talk the good game – “we must transform our IT organization to become a reliable, trusted business partner that provides valuable, good-quality, cost-optimized services” – but no one is willing to step up and do what it takes to make it happen.
If an ITSM implementation is to have success, the organization must be willing to do what it takes to make it happen. It’s the difference between “support” and “commitment”. It’s easy to be supportive. But commitment takes action, sacrifice, investment, and work.
What are symptoms of the lack of organizational will?
What are some of the symptoms of a lack of organizational will with an ITSM implementation?
- No “year 2 +” planning for ITSM – Longer term planning means “what are we working on next month?”
- Lack of executive sponsorship – Business leaders are not aware of the ITSM initiative, much less understand the value proposition.
- Policies do not receive support or sign-off – As a result, process owners are assigned accountability but are not provided with authority to enforce process. Because policies are not signed, the CIO avoids accountability for the success of ITSM, nor having to do the needed advocacy with other senior managers.
- Poor communications and marketing of the initiative – If no one outside of IT knows that IT doing this, then it really doesn’t matter if ITSM is implemented.
- Resources are assigned to the initiative, but are not provided with funding, support, or training.
- Issues and mistakes are buried, rather than treated as improvement opportunities. The rationale is that it’s already bad when it comes to IT, and IT certainly doesn’t want to make it worse by sharing any “bad news”.
ITSM, done well, is transformative as it truly changes how business and IT interact. If the organization is not willing to invest the time, people, and effort needed by an ITSM implementation, then ITSM will not be successful. If the organization is not ready to address long-standing cultural challenges, ITSM will not be successful. If the organization really does not want to transform to a new way of operating, not only within the IT organization, but between IT and the business it serves, then ITSM will fail.
No organizational will means no ITSM success.
Powering organizational will
- The first thing to understand about ITSM is that “it ain’t about IT”. It is about changing behaviors and attitudes, and that change must start at the top of an organization. A strong business case, along with defined and measurable outcomes that are closely related to business goals and objectives will help get the needed support for the ITSM initiative.
- Communication, marketing and training are key. In the absence of communication, marketing, and training, the story of the ITSM initiative will be based on hearsay, perception, and guesswork. Certainly no one in an organization would want to run a company in this manner, so why should the ITSM initiative be treated any differently? Develop and execute a communication and marketing plan so that everyone is aware of the benefits of ITSM, as well as the progress and challenges to date. Because people tend to do their jobs better when they know what is expected, training is critical to understand the how as well as the why.
- Courageous leadership is required – at all levels of the organization. It takes courage to do the right thing when you’re faced with resistance, obstacles, and the unknown, and an ITSM implementation will face all of these things. At the senior levels of the organization, the ITSM initiative must have a champion – someone who will advocate for the program and ensure that senior managers are continually informed about accomplishments and challenges. But leadership is not just a management responsibility – everyone involved must take a leadership attitude. Don’t just talk about ITSM, but also commit to take the actions required to ensure success.
- Commit to making a difference. As with any business initiative, maintaining the “status quo” or conversely, a focus only on perfection, rather than progress are nemeses of an ITSM implementation. Commit to working through challenges, making the organization successful, making the team successful, and celebrate every success. Without commitment at every level of the organization, there is no will.