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Shaking Things Up a Bit – The Service Management Manifesto

Service management

Are we there yet? We’re just getting started! A few weeks ago itSMF USA and HDI held their joint Fusion13 conference in Nashville, TN. Service management professionals once again came together with participants from all of the world. The biggest change this year was the introduction of a new discussion format for experts that led industry leaders to begin an inquiry into what’s next for the industry and how we get organizations to begin moving away from bureaucracy and beyond incident, problem and change management. Some of this discussion has been fueled by the agile and Dev Ops movements and is actually a very timely and appropriate discussion as technology continues to define the industry.

This informal group of educators, practitioners, authors, consultants and leaders from across the globe (UK, US, Mexico, Australia and the Netherlands) began looking at the same question as this blog: are we there yet? More importantly however they asked the questions: how do we get there? and what’s in the way?

Read the Manifesto

The result was a new Service Management Manifesto. It’s worth reading today and if you agree with the spirit, you can even endorse it on-line. It doesn’t have all of the answers. Rather it sets forth some goals and values to be adopted by its followers as we all begin the inquiry into what’s next in our industry. These speak to the fact that we’ve gotten a bit lost. Many organizations have taken their bits and pieces of ITIL and implemented them in ways that uphold a poor status quo, rather than truly focusing on the business as the customer.

The best story I heard on this topic was the person who said that when the business came to IT and said “we need an iPad for “x projet”, IT replied that the iPad was in fact a part of their technical roadmap and they would be introducing it next year. The business partner responded by going out and buying them.

The key message here is that we have begun to use the frameworks as ways to keep outdated practices in place, rather than shaking them up. The manifesto addresses this by saying there is a place for the process and documentation, but there are certain values like communication and trust that offer more. If we don’t align with the business in spirit, implementing Service Management isn’t going to change anything.

We have strayed from the path

This is what happens when your intent to implement ITIL (or other SM frameworks) becomes a way of achieving better incident management. Implementing parts of ITIL don’t work. They enable you to say you use ITIL to cover up the fact that while you’ve improved a few processes, you haven’t really implemented the parts of ITIL that truly make a difference with the business. Implementing ITIL without defining services with the business is not any more effective than any improvement efforts you’ve done to date. It’s just more of the same in a different flavor.
This is why the #revnet shake-up is so important. It’s recognition that we’ve strayed from the intent of Service Management at the leadership level. The critical thing now is that this effort doesn’t become a side-track, displacing leadership and organizations that have served the industry to date, but rather that it puts the leadership and established organizations back on track.

If that wasn’t enough, right on the heels of #revnet, I was introduced to “The Phoenix Project” that tells much the same story. Authors Kim, Behr and Spafford have been around our industry long enough to live the experiences the new manifesto addresses. It’s a great read, being written in novel format, but you can learn more about real Service Management and why we do it in a short period of time.  It follows the actions of a new VP of Operations in a failing company as he finds out IT is the main reason the company is failing and begins his journey to transform Operations and then transforms far more than his team.

What is next?

So with all of this in mind it’s time to start thinking seriously about where you are: Are you there yet? Do you understand the direction of your organization? Have you streamlined daily operations or just a streamlined process? Have you transformed your business or just IT Operations? Take a look at the Manifesto and start thinking about what’s next – after all, it’s time to start building your resolution list for 2014.

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