vision, mission and service management

Mission/Vision: Driving Factors for Service Management

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  “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
    “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat
    “I don’t much care where –“, said Alice
    “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat

That’s the point of my new blog: finding the direction in which IT Service Management is moving and creating a context practitioners can use to truly empower their organization’s Service Management journey.

Let’s start with where you are going. Do you know? If you don’t currently have your organization’s mission/vision (I mean the organization, not IT), it’s difficult to create the mission/vision for your service management journey. Your vision for the future is all-important, a driver of your success, although many people feel it really doesn’t matter. Without a vision for the future, you’re really living from history, legacy or “the past”.

A brief look at the airline industry demonstrates the importance of mission/vision very clearly:

When the airline industry was struggling financially, many airlines began to focus on add-on services to bring in more revenue. Their default vision (the unpublished, unstated vision) became “get out of financial trouble.” Their actions were guided by this principal, as they began to focus on the money, not the passenger. They started to charge fees to check luggage, shifted focus to their side-line as cargo haulers, added fees to reserve seats, fees to board early and so forth. The way this vision plays out you only want to fly with them when you have to.

There’s one airline I fly that charges for everything: bags, better seats, boarding position, snacks (not even peanuts are free!), extra points – you name it, they charge for it. As a result of their baggage fees and smaller than usual overhead bins, space in the overhead is very competitive, so late boarders will likely need to gate-check their bag. The boarding process for this airline is terrible. About 50% of the time they don’t use the PA system to announce the boarding group because they’re busy threatening people that they’re running out of bin space and trying to grab their as they board. They’re focusing on the bags, not the people.

As major airlines struggled, a newer, friendlier, discount airline was continuing its record growth and running profitably. It’s focus was and remains the customer experience. They have very few add-on fees, focusing on the customer experience not how to make more from their customers. They work to please the customer, from the time you purchase your ticket to the time you leave the plane. They invite you to board, gently explaining their open seating process to new-comers. They don’t charge for luggage so they don’t have issues with space in the overheads. They offer a few nice snacks along with beverages served continuously during the flight (they circulate during the entire flight offering water, drinks, collecting trash and checking in with people). They have fun with the FAA announcements.

There are some other comparisons between traditional airlines and the nice newcomer. For one thing, the newcomer has a fleet of planes with identical seating designs. The result is a service management approach to handling “incidents”. On more traditional airlines with different size planes and seating arrangements, a mechanical failure or late connection offers little flexibility. If a plane is experiencing a mechanical problem, it must be fixed because there is no equipment to swap in, leading to delays of hours or cancellations. This leads to a very inconsistent level of service, particularly when flying their smaller, regional planes.

The newcomer has flexibility. They can grab any plan in their fleet and swap it in. They can even perform multiple swaps that end in short delays on several flights rather than a lengthy delay on one flight. They get people where they are going. If they don’t, you get a voucher for use towards another flight. The amount varies in accordance with delay.

OK, this isn’t an advertisement for the newer airline. It’s simply a demonstration of the way service is driven by mission/vision. For better or worse, your vision for the future drives what you deliver. If your vision is share holder value, you deliver to the bottom line, regardless of how the customer feels. If it’s satisfied customers, you satisfy your customers and make money out of their loyalty and repeat business.

So what’s your mission/vision?

If you don’t have one, it’s probably a default vision: a desire to improve IT and it’s alignment with the business. Likely, you’ve been working on this for years and while infrastructure delivery is more successful, you may still be struggling with your relationship to the business. You may even believe ITIL or ITSM has failed to deliver on the investment you made in it. If so, you’re one of many people in many organizations who don’t understand why ITSM is failing them after large investments in training, tools, consultants etc.

So here’s the secret: ITSM did not fail them. Lack of vision most certainly did! Your challenge then is to create your mission/vision for the future, using your organization’s mission/vision to do so.

If you don’t know your company’s vision, check their website or search the internet (I found a site that has this information for many Fortune 500 companies.)

Driven by Vision:

I used to work for AutoNation. Their slogan is “Driven to be the best” and their mission statement is “To be America’s best run, most profitable automotive retailer.” Their vision statement talked about the four pillars of success through which they would accomplish this mission. This made it easy for IT as we adopted the organization’s vision, working only on activities that supported one or more of the four pillars or contributed to their being the best in some way.

The vision of the “newcomer airline”?

“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. ”

The traditional airlines’ vision?

“Delta Air Lines. We love to fly. And it shows.”
“Customer service has always been a priority at US Airways, and we are committed to making every flight count for our valued customers.”
“To be recognized as the best airline in the industry by our customers ,employees, and shareholders”(Continental Airlines).
“It’s Time to Fly” (United Airlines)

The last one comes from an organization known for their service excellence and commitment to the customer. The “Mouse”s” vision?

         “To make people happy.”

Next time more on mission and vision: How to create a mission and vision to align with that of your organization and turn them into success.  In the meantime, two take-aways to have fun with and keep you thinking:

  • If you find you’re not getting as much as you expected from your implementation, I invite you to tweet your mission/vision to me (@msitsm). I’d love to hear from you.  Use #itsmvision and we can start a community discussion on this topic.
  • Gather a few people together over lunch and look at the samples I provided here. See if you can spot why they might drive a different customer experience even if they sound like they are committed to their customers.

Until next time, happy adventures in “Wonderland”!

Image – Cheshire Cat – John Tenniel, 1866

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Phyllis Drucker is a business process consultant at Linium. ITIL expert certified with over 20 years' experience in the disciplines and frameworks of IT Service Management as both a practitioner and consultant, she has also served the itSMF since 2004 in a variety of capacities including volunteer, board member and operations director of the US Chapter. She is a frequent contributor of knowledge to the ITSM profession, through numerous presentations, whitepapers and articles. Since 1997, her goal has been to advance the profession of ITSM leaders and practitioners worldwide by providing insight from her experiences on a wide variety of Service Management topics.