Is there such a thing as the "ITSM Community"?

pink ball
Does a happy, successful “ITSM Community” exist?

As you may know in February Rebecca and I attended the annual Pink Elephant conference in Las Vegas.  Post-event there is always (as you would expect) a lot to talk about, such as how well the event was run, the content, the amazing people and networking opportunities. But I’ve done that already, so now I want to focus on something a little different for this article. I want to talk about the “ITSM community”.

We are a ‘community’

By “we”, I mean members of the global ITSM industry and, by putting the word “community” in quotation marks I’m asking, well are we really?

This topic came up on several occasions at the PINK14 conference (granted it usually involved bar snacks and a cocktail, but then again all the best conversations usually do right?). Not least when the topic of the future of SMCongress came up. There were daily conversations about how to “help the community” (be it in the shape of SMCongress or any other initiative). There were debates, and many ‘aha moments’ too, but one unanswered question remained throughout: What is it that we (the people who refer to said “community”) are actually trying to achieve?

Who is the “community”?

At ITSM Review we consider ourselves to be a “community” where ITSM professionals (and ITAM professionals over at the ITAM Review) gather to consume helpful content, discuss best practice, occasionally meet-up in person, and share opinions.  Furthermore, my job title includes ‘community manager’, which means I manage the content, encourage discussions, arrange meet-ups, and try to get people to share their opinions.

Are we successful in delivering helpful content, encouraging discussions, organizing meet-ups etc.? Yes (our growth certainly doesn’t suggest otherwise). Are we a community? Yes, but we’re only a tiny proportion of the larger ITSM community.

When we (and by we, I now mean the ITSM industry) refer to discussions on social media, whether it be on Twitter, in back2itsm groups, LinkedIn or anywhere else, we refer to them as “discussions amongst the “ITSM Community””.

When we attend conferences such as PINK14 and ‘we’ meet up in sessions, at lunch or in the bar at the end of the day, we refer to ourselves as the “ITSM community”.  Or we have discussions about how to help the “ITSM community”.

I’m the worst offender by the way, I use the term “ITSM community” like it’s going out of fashion. But the question is this: does the “ITSM community” (as we refer to it) actually exist?

Opening a can of worms

So I’m the community manager at ITSM Review yet I’ve just questioned whether or not an ITSM community actually exists. I could quite easily be out of a job by the time I finish this article.

I do believe that the ITSM community exists, I just don’t think it exists in the way that we think it does.  We talk of the ITSM community as an intangible entity made up of people in different ITSM roles from around the world, who want to benefit from, and contribute to, the collective wisdom of other members.

You may disagree with my definition but bear with me while I look at a few issues: Is there really a need? Are we sharing? Are we global?

Then there is the issue with  ‘people in different ITSM roles’. That is where our current “global ITSM community” really falls down.  Consultants, check. Vendors, check. Analysts, check.  Practitioners? Not so much check.  At one point at PINK14 we were a group of 15 people discussing this topic, and only one of those was a practitioner. So that means 6.7% of the group represented practitioners, and what’s worse is that figure is quite high. Often there is no practitioner representation in these discussions at all.

Furthermore, we have to ask, what is the purpose of our community? To help others, right? But currently the vendors, consultants and analysts are trying to help without necessarily understanding demand. Whilst the people who we believe really need the help are usually nowhere to be seen? Do you think that is a fair statement? Probably not, but I think it isn’t far off.

When Stephen Mann kicked off the back2itsm initiative he said it was about “the reaping of the knowledge and experience held within the ITSM community (ITIL’s creators, publishers, trainers, consultants, software vendors, ITSM practitioners, and ancillary roles such as analysts) for the benefit of all.” 

When I asked Charles Araujo what was the reasoning behind launching SMCongress he said “we formed the ‘RevNet’, which ultimately become SMCongress, to bring together some of the brightest minds in the ITSM community to explore where the future of our industry was going and what it would mean to ITSM professionals everywhere.  Our aim was to provide valuable insights and ideas to the entire ITSM community.”

So many questions, so few answers

Thus far, I’ve highlighted several questions, none of which I have specifically answered. This is ironic, because none of us could answer them at PINK14 either.

This is the biggest flaw in any of our attempts to either build a community or serve/help an existing community. We don’t really know what it is that we are trying to achieve. We (i.e. those of us who actively take part in these kind of discussions) might think we know what we want to achieve, but then is what we’re trying to achieve actually of any value to anybody? For example the news announcements surrounding AXELOS was “big talk” in our group of 15 at PINK14, but one of those 15 people wasn’t in the slightest bit interested. Can you guess who? Yes, the practitioner.

You can see that I am going round in circles here with question after question. I’m dizzy, so you must be too. Apologies, but please bear with me.

The main phrase that kept reoccurring on this topic at PINK14 was “how do we help the community?” This was in relation to SMCongress, back2itsm, and the ITSM people active on Twitter. In my opinion, this question cannot be answered in our current position. Why? Because there are so many other questions that need to be asked (to our target audience) and answered first:

  • Do you think there is such a thing as an ITSM community?
  • Do you feel part of an ITSM community?
  • Would you like to be part of an ITSM community?
  • What would you expect to input to and receive from an ITSM community?
  • How would you expect to communicate with an ITSM community?

The only thing that everybody seems to be in agreement on is that we want to help practitioners and that they are our target audience, but even that leads to further questions such as “are we talking about the people on the front line of a service desk say, or IT managers, or both?”

Where on earth do we go from here?

Wow, yet another question that doesn’t have a clear answer. There was a lot of debate at PINK14 about what next steps any community initiative should take, and one thing that was clear is that it’s not a one-man-band job.  There were discussions about involving the likes of itSMF, AXELOS or other high-profile industry names. There was also talk of creating ways to encourage vendors to actively engage their customers on the topic.

I think all of the above are great ideas, and much needed, but I also believe that it is likely to be difficult to pull a united force together to drive any community initiative forward. I’m not saying that such an approach will fail, I do strongly believe said approach is needed and can succeed, but it will take a lot of time to bring it all together. In the meantime there are things that everyone can be doing to help.

Next time you meet with a practitioner (in my view, anybody working in IT who is not a consultant, analyst or vendor), ask them the five questions listed in the bullet points above. Take the answers and share them across any ITSM channel, with us, on social media, in forums etc, or ask them to complete our online form.

If you are a practitioner reading this, pretty please share your own answers with us.

Together we can start to crowd source the answers we need, because without answers from the people we are trying to help, how can we ever move forward and build the existing ITSM community into something more beneficial?

Where does ITSM Review fit in all of this?

A large amount of our readers and subscribers are practitioners and they keep coming to our site because they find it useful. We therefore already have an existing relationship in place with a small proportion of the ITSM industry. They might not all actively engage with us, but it is a huge starting point.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

We can ensure that we nurture the community that we already have. We can also utilize said community to gain the feedback required to help move any global initiative forward.  We’re going to continue with everything that we already do, as well as push for more continuous feedback. We’ll start by pushing for as many responses to our online survey as possible. We can then feed this back into any larger initiative.

Unfortunately as much as we hate to admit it, we’re a small fish in a very large pond. It’s going to take more than feedback from our readers alone to get enough feedback to start being able to answer the long list of questions. This is why having other institutions and companies involved will be the key to success.  Pink Elephant, HDI, SDI, itSMF’s… they all need to take the same approach.

It’s also worth mentioning here that ITSM Review isn’t looking to build something to go up against SMCongress, back2itsm or anything else. We don’t care what the initiative is called or who owns it – so long as it gets the job done.

In summary

Let me be clear here – I’m not trying to be harsh on the existing “ITSM community” (as we refer to it) and I am also meaning to sound negative. I realize that non-practitioners are always going to be more active in things, and maybe that’s fine? But then when “we” should stop saying that it’s practitioners that we are trying to help. I also want to stress that this post is not an “attack” on SMCongress and I fully support the official announcement (due out shortly) that will be issued about moving SMCongress forward.

Anyway, neither I, nor ITSM Review have all the answers or the power to drive any true global community forward alone. That said, we’re successful in what we’re currently doing in our own community and we plan to continue, because feedback leads us to believe that we are making a difference to multiple people around the globe. In addition to this we will do whatever we can to support any larger initiatives.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what all of this is about? Regardless of who has the answers, or who’s opinion differs to the next persons, don’t we all just want to help make the lives of ITSM professionals easier? You may not agree with all of my opinions in this article, but surely we can all agree on this?

It’s time to stop debating, and time to start gathering answers.

Orange, green, blue, purple – what colour is ITSM?

photo (2)PINK. The answer is still PINK.

PINK14 seem a long time ago now, and I have to confess that I am already secretly (although I guess it’s not a secret when I publish it in an article right?) planning my trip for PINK15.

There has already been a stream of blogs from people providing their thoughts on the conference:

So I guess I’m a little late to the ‘event review party’ (sheesh my legs are still tired from the theme park that was Vegas) but better late than never. So here goes my review.

My favourite sessions

The calibre of the sessions varied depending on the topic and the speaker, but two sessions in particular stood out for me:

  • Slow IT: Meet in the Middle (MITM) – Rob England
  • How to Create & Manage a Successful Service Catalog – Jack Probst

What I loved most about these two sessions was the audience. No offence to either presenter but there were times when I wasn’t giving them 100% of my attention, because I was too busy watching and listening to the delegates in the room.

Rob England

Rob discussed the need to slow down the pace of business demands on IT to focus better on what matters, and to reduce the risk to what already exists (you can view Rob’s presentation as part of TFT here). His session was laden with common sense, and his message clearly resonated with the audience.

There were lots of nodding heads and signs of agreements. There were ‘oohs and ahh’s’ every 5 minutes (to the point that if any one entered the session late they probably wondered what the heck was going on). There were cries from the audience of ‘how?’ and ‘yes!’ It was very entertaining and enlightening to watch, and I think it’s fair to say that Rob had a few new groupies by the time his presentation was over.

Jack Probst

Then there was Jack’s session on service catalog (let’s not have the argument about the spelling). And before I attended the conference a few people had recommended to me “if you only see one session make sure it’s one of Jack’s”, and I’m pleased to say that this will probably be the same advice I give to any new timers next year.

Jack is a very enthusiastic and passionate presenter. I confess that when I entered the room I thought I understood service catalog and when I left I wasn’t so convinced (it was a tad high level for little ol’ me), but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was question after question literally every five minutes from the audience (ok so maybe it wasn’t just me who found it high level) and once again the audience was very engaged. By the way if anyone saw my tweet about ITSM Review and service catalog, it was from this session.

What I loved most about this particular presentation though was not the actual session or topic, it was what happened after. I wanted to introduce myself to Jack given that the previous week he had written an article for us, and I had to wait a considerable amount of time to be able to do so. There was a very long line of people with questions.  All too often I see similar scenarios at events, and all too often I see very short responses given as answers, or occasionally no answers at all, but not with Jack. He gave clear answers and took contact details to provide even further information after the conference.

It’s interesting because many people raised the question of whether the PINK conference provided enough value to warrant the hefty conference price tag. My thoughts? If all the delegates did was attend these two sessions, then I would say they certainly got their money’s worth.

All the other sessions

A lot of people raised the suggestion that next year there should be less tracks and that presentations should be shorter, which I think is a fair comment.  There were many occasions when it felt a bit like Sophie’s Choice deciding which presentation to go to, not least when I had to make a decision between James Finister and Karen Ferris. James won solely on the fact that it was less distance for me to walk (the Bellagio is HUGE and I only have little legs … although not as little as Gobby Midget).

The keynotes on day one were incredible, and I think that PINK has quite a challenge on its hands finding anyone to match them next year. The keynotes on day two were sadly not as impressive, and along with many women I found the session by Josh Klein particularly poor. It was stereotypical and offensive. I appreciate that all of said stereotypical/offensive comments that he made were meant in good humour, but this is 2014 and jokes about women knowing nothing about tech and only being interested in shoes are not acceptable. There again I’d question whether there was ever actually a time when they were acceptable (although I wasn’t alive in the 1970s).

Anyway, enough of my thoughts for a second, let’s hear from a practitioner:

Currently our main aim at South African Reserve Bank is to be more service focused as well as looking at managing change and so my aim coming to PINK14 was to go to these types of sessions.

I was especially looking forward to Expanding ITSM Beyond IT: Providing Real Value to the Business by Joshua Smith – IT Service Management Team Lead at Mohawk Industries and I think I have taken away some useful points from the session.

We are currently moving to a new Service Desk tool provider and so I am looking forward to visiting the stand and getting to know the people there.

My favourite keynote has definitely been Caroline Casey, she was fantastic and very inspirational [unlike the keynote of Joshua Klein which I walked out of].

On the whole I would say that I have not had the “WOW that’s amazing I will definitely take this back with me” moment I was hoping for but I still think that the conference has been worthwhile.

– Siphiwe Mkwanazi – Head: Service Management Centre, South African Reserve Bank

Final thoughts

The theme was superheroes and I was suitably impressed with how PINK managed to ensure that the theme was present throughout the conference. The dressing up as superheroes and dancing through the ballroom wasn’t really my cup of tea, but that was simply a mismatch between American and British humour. It certainly drew plenty of laughs from the audience.

I won’t mention too much about the awards as you’ll be able to read articles from the winners here at ITSM Review over the coming weeks. However, what I will say is that at itSMF UK many of us complained that the award ceremony was too long and ‘went on a bit’, and yet at PINK we were complaining that the awards were a bit of a letdown (in terms of presentation not the actual winners) and too short. Safe to say that we (the ITSM critics) always have something to moan about and we’ll probably never be happy.

Finally, before I leave you with some photos of the exhibitors along with their views on the conference, there is one piece of feedback that I personally want to give to PINK for the 2015 conference. What I have to say is this:

 

“MORE GEORGE!!!!”

 

Seriously, the man is an absolute breath of fresh air and there was a never a dull moment when he was on stage. Pretty please work even more George Spalding into the agenda for 2015.

The exhibitors

I really shouldn’t miss out the vendors, given that without them PINK wouldn’t be able to run their conference. I personally felt that there was a nice atmosphere in the exhibition hall at this particular event. I’m not sure whether it was layout, the attendees or the fact that the vendors just generally seemed to be a lot more laid back and friendlier than I’ve seen them at other events – whatever the reason it was nice.

I particularly enjoyed assessing each vendors marketing efforts. From “spot me in a t-shirt” competitions to barbeque giveaways (yes you did read that correctly) there was certainly something for everyone. Anyone who knows me will know I get annoyed by vendors on booths very easily, but bar one minor incident that involved a finger (don’t ask) I never had a reason to complain!

Although talking of annoying, seriously, it’s time to stop tweeting about your PINK booth now people!

Before I finish up, here are some photos of a few* exhibitors looking all ‘dapper’ on their booths:

BMC Software
BMC Software
CA Technologies
CA Technologies
Cherwell
Cherwell Software
EasyVista
EasyVista
LANDESK
LANDESK
ManageEngine
ManageEngine
Navvia
Navvia
ServiceNow
ServiceNow
SysAid
SysAid
TeamQuest
TeamQuest

*Please note that no favouritism was involved in selecting which exhibitors to display here. I simply used all of the the professionals photographs provided to us by PINK.

The final finally

I just want to take this opportunity to thank Pink Elephant on behalf of everyone at ITSM Review for having us involved as media partner this year. We thoroughly enjoyed the conference and all of the amazing networking opportunities that the event presented us with.

So who else is going to PINK15?

Podcast Episode 1: Pink14 and the best moustache in the world

ManageEngine
Thanks to our friends at ManageEngine for sponsoring this podcast.

We are pleased to lift the lid on our very first podcast!

Recorded at Pink14 in Las Vegas with Barclay Rae and Rebecca Beach with guest Ian Aitchison from LANDESK.

The team discuss Shadow IT, Axelos Announcements, Pink Conference agenda and other industry news (not forgetting the best moustache in the world!)

Listen on SoundCloud here (Itunes feed to follow soon).

Who and what would you like to hear on future podcasts? Please get in touch and let us know – Drop us a line, leave a comment on this blog post or post ideas on our community forum. Thanks.

Links

Culture, value and astronauts, what more could you possibly want?

Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield

I love conferences.  What could be better than going to a place filled with people that want to share their knowledge and experiences with you?

Looking at the conference schedule for PINK14 what occurred to me were just how many people there are out there that want to relinquish ownership of their insight and experiences to help others and their organizations to grow, develop and thrive.

My Favourite Keynotes

The opening keynote from celebrated retired astronaut and social media superstar Cmdr Chris Hadfield was awe-inspiring.  I thought that Jo Salter, keynote at ITSM13 was the most fearless person I had heard speak for flying a fighter jet, but I think being shot up into space sat on a rocket kind of takes the biscuit.

Cmdr Hadfield’s messages were simple:

  • The right team can achieve anything.  Even when there are cultural and language divides if you work together with a good leader then anything is possible

 

 

  • Plan to fail not succeed.  In order to be ready for anything that is thrown at you it has to be planned for and you have to learn from those potential failures.  It’s no good being stuck not knowing what to do 220 miles above the earth.
    • Even the most complicated and dangerous of changes can be implemented quickly AND safely.  If they can organize a spacewalk in a day I’m pretty sure we can get our changes turned around faster!

Inspirational speaker and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey gave an impassioned and thought provoking keynote on disability and how differences in people should be valued and respected.

Being diagnosed legally blind at a young age Caroline relived her experiences of being treated differently once those around her knew the truth and about her personal struggles functioning after admitting to herself that she had a disability.  I am positive to the point of being irritating and yet I am unsure whether I would have stayed this way had I had to overcome the difficulties Caroline has experienced in her life.  I left the keynote feeling humbled and determined.

Caroline’s challenge to attendees was to change the mindsets and behaviors surrounding disability for yourself, your organization and those around you. Takeaways from this highly motivational session are that failure should never end you or define you and positivity can get you through anything.

 

A Selection of Sessions I attended

Expanding ITSM Beyond IT: Providing Real Value to the Business – Joshua Smith, Mohawk Industries

Widening the scope of ITSM into other areas of the business interests me greatly and having experience of accidentally achieving this at a previous company I was interested to see how Mohawk Industries had actually planned and succeeded in this.

Joshua’s session was a case study into how they had first searched for the teams/departments using spreadsheets and notepads to record what they do in order to make the most impact and show other areas of the business what could be achieved.

If this is an area you are interested in I recommend checking out the slides via Pink Elephant when they are available.

The Clarity Principle: How Great Leaders Make the Most Important Decisions in Business (& What Happens When They Don’t) – Robin Hysick, Pink Elephant

Robin’s session was based on a book of the same name authored by Chatham Sullivan.  The principles of the session were that your organization must find purpose and clarity to create your guiding path and succeed.

 

This session was coded as Beginner and although I think that the information contained gave an interesting overview to practitioners on how a business or organization should be run to succeed there wasn’t much in the way of salient advice on how to achieve this from a lower position of authority.

Perhaps a section on who each session would be most suitable for could be added to next years schedule?

Change the Culture, Change the Game – Troy DeMoulin, Pink Elephant

Another session based on a book of the same name, this time by authors Roger Connors and Tom Smith.

I’m going to hold my hands up now and say that I didn’t look online for the full session descriptions.  Next time I will as I think I would maybe have chosen different sessions as I am an avid reader and everyone knows that movies are never as good!

I have to say though I really did enjoy this session.

Troy started the session with a confession that until he read this book he believed that you could change behavior but not culture – something that I was inclined to agree with.  By the end of the session however I could see that by not treating being accountable as something that happens to you and your team when you mess up, but as a necessary and positive step towards growth, both the behaviour and the culture of the organization can change.

I can’t wait to dig deeper by reading the book.

Conclusion

On a general note I have to say that the speakers were of a very high calibre with good content.  The session rooms were generally heavily undersubscribed and several attendees noted that it would have been better to have fewer sessions and fuller rooms.

As a testament to Pink and The Bellagio it was only when the conference had finished that I noticed I had not complained about uncomfortable chairs, sun shining in my eyes or not being able to hear speakers properly.  Praise indeed from me.

My only real issue with the conference was the lack of a set lunch period.  I understand completely why this was done but found that on certain days I could go to a much looked forward to session or have lunch, not both.  Sorry Karen Smith but a girls got to eat!  Hope to catch another session soon.

All in all a fabulous experience which I hope to repeat.

Thank you to everyone that took part in making PINK14 such a wonderful experience.

Image Credit

 

 

Strategy, IT value & buzzwords – is there an elephant in the room?

photo
Meeting Sophie Danby from ITSM Review

This was my first time attending the Pink Elephant conference and I must say, I was very impressed. I had heard that Pink is the “must-attend” service management conference and I’m pleased to say that Pink did not disappoint. The Pink staff, the sessions, and the people all are top notch, even the food was great. To post every highlight would simply be impossible but here are the “standout” items (at least in my mind)

Keynotes

There were multiple keynotes across the conference, but there were two in particular that really stood out for me.

Commander Chris Hadfield – Commander Hadfield fulfilled my boyhood dream; become an astronaut. What stood out to me in his presentation was the human that he is. Simply the person that he is was what was inspiring about his session. His recollections of the moment he looked out of the windows of the International Space Station at the beautiful thin slice of world we inhabit. The recollection of struggling to understand a Russian-speaking colleague. His memory of helping lead thousands of school children in a song (he truly capitalized on the opportunity of the song lyric “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony…”.). There isn’t any doubt that Commander Hadfield is an incredible man.

My takeaway – Practice Failure. His stories of how he and the ISS team dealt with emergencies all lead back to the practice of situations that might. Success is an important trait for many of us, but are we successful because we practice success or because we practice failure?

Caroline Casey – There are those moments when you see some step onto a stage and you just know they are genuine. And then there is Caroline Casey. This woman’s story is incredible, moving, and tugs at your heart. Her outer beauty is truly diminished by her inner beauty.

My takeawayA disability is in the eye of the beholder. We all have our disabilities. How are you working to make yours an ability?

Takeaways from the conference

There were many, but here is my top seven:

  • Over the next year, IT will be squeezed like never before. IT teams will need to make tough decisions on the services they offer and how to collaborate with other/external providers. Demonstrating value to the business will be more critical. The ability to act with agility will become a greater differentiator.
  • Strategy still matters. In my discussions with many of the attendees, strategy seemed to be the sticking point in adoption plans. Many of those I interacted with are looking back at their strategic development of services to ensure the business is able to see the value their IT team provides.
  • Discussions around buzzwords seem to be diminishing. While CMDB and BYOD were topics on the session agenda, they were not mentioned as frequently as words like leadership, management and value.
  • The business will be looking to IT to prove value
  • Culture is the next great differentiator
  • IT generally does not understand how to work/use governance. The business is depending on IT to fit into existing governance models OR to advise on changes. Does IT have skills in this area?
  • There is and will continue to be a multitude of framework/methodology options. There is not a “cookbook” for service management. Be like an “Iron Chef” – make something dazzling with your secret ingredient – IT needs to become a “melting pot” – input/ideas from areas mixed into a delightful concoction that will please the palette of the business

Networking

I had the good fortune to meet many of the people I interact with on Twitter for the first time at Pink14. There are too many to mention here and I would most likely forget someone, but please allow me to say:

  1. It was an honour to meet you
  2. Thanks for the time you spent discussing service management with me and for those who were out with me at all hours
  3. The pictures aren’t getting posted anywhere!

It truly was a great gathering and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

Live from PINK14 – Day 1 in review

mediaAs day one of PINK14 comes to a close I am feeling somewhat frazzled. In Vegas nothing is modest and reserved and PINK14 is no different.

Held in the beautiful and ostentatious Bellagio hotel the sheer number of sessions is frankly mind boggling and trying to decide which to attend leaves you wishing cloning yourself were an option. Luckily the majority are repeated to make missing anything you really want to see unlikely.

Keynote presentations

Opened with a far too energetic lycra clad Wonder Woman dancing her way to the stage the Super Hero theme has continued throughout the day with the message that we can all be IT Super Heroes.

Both keynote speakers, retired Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey gave rousing and emotional talks with audiences reaching for the Kleenex on several occasions.

 

Both told truly inspirational stories on what can be done when you dare to dream and follow those dreams through. Both presentations were also laced with great advice applicable to any IT service management organization.

Pink Think Tank

One of the many selling points for attendees of the annual Pink Elephant conferences (so I am told) is the quality of after-hours conversations. Often taking place over a meal or a beer, but often limited in their exposure outside of those party to them (and potentially the inability to remember what was said the following day).

So this year an attempt was made to formalise and capture the essence of such conversations – the Pink Think Tank. Where a pre-selected group of the ITSM industry’s deep thinkers spent a day discussing the main issues faced by corporate IT organisations before focusing on just one – from problem definition through to potential solutions. This was then fed back to the conference via a panel session today, with a Q&A session to follow on Wednesday.

The issue the think tank chose was: the complexity of multi-supplier value streams. Where the traditional IT function is faced with two discrete pressures:

  • A need to change to accommodate the needs of more agile businesses; and
  • Supplier-driven commoditisation.
The group’s solution statement pointed to a number of discrete areas/activities that need to be addressed (see the link below), headlined by the statement that IT really needs to start understanding the business. And the concept of IT needing to deal with commoditisation, innovation, and complexity simultaneously.

There was also a practical set of activities for attendees to address on their return to the workplace. Hopefully making the efforts of the Think Tank more relevant and accessible to attendees. With a commitment to create supporting documents to supplement the initial outputs.

If you are at Pink14, then look out for the Q&A session on Wednesday. If not, Rob England has shared the group’s first outputs on Slideshare. It also details those involved. In addition Rob himself will be providing a written article for us post-PINK detailing the entire Pink Think Tank process. In the meantime let us know what you think.

Everything else

There was also the announcement today that Attivio who won the PINK 2013 IT Excellence Award for Innovation Of The Year. So huge congratulations to those guys!

And we can’t forget all the numerous AXELOS announcements that took place today.

I can’t finish without mentioning the networking opportunities that been fantastic so far with a special pink cocktail created specially for the occasion, and in the exhibition hall there was a great mix of old hands and first time vendors and a certain penguin that seems to be everywhere these days.

It’s hard to really go into detail about the specific presentations live from the floor, but stay tuned for more in depth reviews of the sessions and Barclay Rae’s podcast.

 

Live from PINK14: AXELOS Announcements

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Today at the Pink Annual Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, AXELOS made a number of announcements from launching new products to introducing new members of the team. In the coming days we will be publishing a video interview with some of the AXELOS team to discuss said announcements in more detail, until then a brief summary can be found below.

Cybersecurity best practice

A key announcement today was the news that AXELOS is to develop a new cybersecurity portfolio designed to help commercial organizations and governments around the world combat the risk of cyber attacks.

The AXELOS cybersecurity portfolio, to be launched in the second half of 2014, will include best practice guidance, training materials and certification, simulations and tools – all designed to assess, benchmark and improve an organization’s cyber resilience capabilities.

AXELOS CEO, Peter Hepworth, said “The cyber risks are clear and there are more policies and standards being published – but organizations are still searching for the right, pragmatic way to make these part of day-to-day business operations.  The new AXELOS cybersecurity portfolio will provide that practical ‘how-to’ management advice.”

Additions to the team

In addition to the new cybersecurity portfolio, AXELOS announced the appointment of Kaimar Karu as the new Director of ITIL. Kaimar will be responsible for a number of things in his new role, but first and foremost his focus will be on looking at the overall ITIL strategy.

 

Kaimar’s experience will be of huge benefit to AXELOS, specifically his knowledge of DevOps. Also, as many of us know, Kaimar is an active member of the online community and has strong connections with the itSMF (he is currently president of itSMF Estonia), which means he has a good sense of what is really important to people when it comes to ITIL.

AXELOS are also welcoming Nick Wilding as Director of Cybersecurity. As Nick was not present at the conference, there was little information shared specific to his role but we hope to hear more in the coming weeks.

Further to these two additions, it was also announced that AXELOS will be working more closely with Stuart Rance and Kenneth Gonzalez moving forward. Stuart will be responsible for authoring the guidance associated with the new best practice portfolio for cybersecurity, whilst Kenneth will be assisting with broadening the AXELOS global footprint. Kenneth will also be looking at how to bridge the gap between the customer and service provider.

In addition to the announcements at PINK14, AXELOS also issued a press release last week on expanding its senior management team with two new appointments. Daryl Flack and Kelvyn Lien-Hicks will join as Chief Information Office (CIO) and Sales and Marketing Director respectively.

Daryl brings to AXELOS 14 years experience in delivering technology solutions and business transformation. Having worked internationally across a variety of business sectors, most recently Daryl was the divisional Chief Technology Officer for a UK-based FTSE 50 organization responsible for the technology strategy across many private and public sector contracts. Kelvyn also brings significant experience to the AXELOS team having worked for 20 years in the international sales and marketing arena, specializing in the education and e-learning sectors.

The appointment of Daryl and Kelvyn completes the senior management team at AXELOS:

Other news

In a presentation this morning led by Frances Scarff, AXELOS also showcased new research. At the end of 2013 they sought to validate their ITIL roadmap and thus arranged an independent assessment of 380 global organizations. The aim of the research was to see how the AXELOS value proposition relates to different organizations of different sizes.

The slides from today’s presentation will be available from AXELOS in due course, but the two key findings that I personally took away from the session were that:

  • The US are very keen on certification, vs APAC who are less worried about certification and more focused on the ‘doing’
  • 81% of CIO’s surveyed said that they find ITIL to be very or exceedingly valuable to their organization

AXELOS also announced it will launch a new partner programme with strategic, academic and sales partners. Little detail has been given on the initiative thus far, but we can expect to hear much more about this as their plans develop.

In summary

All in all, it was an eventful day in the world of ITIL. Initial reactions to all of the news was very positive, especially around the appointment of Kaimar as Director of ITIL.

Whilst many still remain dubious about AXELOS and the future of ITIL, it is clear to see that they are listening to the community and acting on feedback. For example, hiring Kaimar and working with Kenneth is a clear sign that AXELOS does not intend to be a UK-centric operation, something that everyone will be very glad to see.

As Peter himself said, “it’s going to be a great year”.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kaimar, Nick, Daryl and Kelvyn on their new roles at AXELOS on behalf of all of everyone at ITSM Review. Congratulations also to Stuart and Kenneth on their involvements.

All the latest news from AXELOS can be found on the AXELOS websiteGoogle+ and @AXELOS_GBP on Twitter.  If you have specific queries around any of the announcements please contact Ask@AXELOS.com.

Pink14 Preview: The Phoenix Project

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IT needs to embrace the “3 Ways”

Ahead of his presentation at the 18th Pink Elephant Conference and Exhibition (PINK14)Jack Probst, Principal Consultant at Pink Elephant talks about The Phoenix Project: a novel about IT, DevOps and helping your business win

In May 2003, Nicholas Carr wrote a Harvard Business Review article entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter”. In it Mr. Carr proposed that IT was, and remember this was just after the dot.com bust, being marginalized and could be thought of as a commodity.

Seems that thinking hasn’t changed much in the past 10 or so years. IT is challenged daily to just keep the lights on, at best, and, if all goes well, maybe try to keep up with the needs of the business much less get ahead of the game.

For those of us who are immersed in IT Service Management, that thought, at times, is a bitter pill to swallow. It is true to that the table stakes for IT is to maintain and manage operational stability but there is more to a day, week or month in the life of IT than KTLO. If we truly embrace the notion of a service – “delivering value by facilitating customer outcomes” – then staying abreast of or anticipating and preparing for the future of the business is or should be the IT mantra. The question is can IT do both? 

Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford recently published The Phoenix Project. Their book develops a landscape of principles and practices that attempt to answer that question. The book, written as an allegory, focuses on the trials and tribulations of Bill Palmer, recently named VP of IT Operations at Parts Unlimited Inc.. From day one on the job Bill is challenged to first stabilize operations AND deliver on a mission critical project – a project that could spell disaster if it fails. As the story unfolds the authors highlight ideas that should be on every IT managers improvement opportunities list. I would think everyone would like to get a peek at practical advice for how to deal with:

  • Demanding business leadership
  • Major incidents
  • Uncontrolled changes
  • Failed deployments
  • Security/audit issues
  • Overwhelming project list

At PINK14

At the upcoming Pink Elephant IT Service Management Conference, I will be presenting Sunday afternoon and again Wednesday morning some of my insights from the book.

There are many great discussion topics interlaced throughout the story. My focus during the session will be laser in on the results of when Bill reluctantly falls under the guidance and tutelage of Eric Reid, a candidate for the Board of Directors. Eric leads Bill through a set of hands on exercises to learn some key principles instrumental to elevating IT’s overall performance. Of the many insights, Eric continues to hammer home the need to focus on Bill finding ways for IT embrace the “3 Ways”.

  • First Way – Create a fast flow of works as it moves from Development into Operations”
  • Second Way – Shorten and amplify feedback loops to fix quality at the source and avoid rework
  • Third Way – Create a culture that simultaneously fosters experimentation, learning from failure and understanding that repetition and practice are prerequisites to mastery.

So why read The Phoenix Project

I have been recommending to my Pink Elephant clients to pick up a copy of the book and add it to their nightstand reading. Several reasons for this:

  • I’m sure you will find yourself at some point seeing your own situation through Bill’s eyes. I found the experience of reflection on the challenges Bill was having and some “ah-ha” solutions the authors brought forward would highly instructive, especially as conversation starters for ITSM teams at various stages of their program.
  • Many of the ideas that are being kicked around today in the blog-o-sphere and water cooler talk are fleshed out in a practical setting. Granted the circumstances don’t exactly match what my clients are dealing with but it isn’t a huge leap to find resonance with how the practices can be incorporated in their own ITSM program.
  • Lastly, it is a story after-all. One that we have all lived through to some extent. An entertaining read and, as one side note, there is some visceral pleasure in seeing the antagonist getting her comeuppance.

Why attend my session?

My focus for this session was to distill the many points and concepts that Bill and his team use to solve their challenges into a pragmatic approach for your ITSM program.

During my sessions I will dig deeper in to each of the three ways. For instance the in the First Way we will learn how IT must understand the 4 types of IT work and how that work is managed through what I call “the Funnel and the Pipe” or the IT Value Stream. In the Second Way we will talk about the “Tyranny of Technical Debt”, its sources and potential ways to avoid it. And finally my discussion of the Third Way will encompass Improvement Katas and DevOps.

I hope that you will add one of my sessions to your Conference Optimizer. If we don’t get a chance to connect during my workshops, then look for during the networking events each night.

This will be the best Pink Elephant Conference yet! I look forward to meeting you in Vegas – see you there.


Jack Probst
Jack Probst

To learn more find Jack at PINK14:

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Pink14 Preview: 2-Speed ITSM – 2-Speed conferences?

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“I often go from some futuristic and visionary discussions at conferences, to a ‘retro’ experience of 80s and 90s computing in some client organisations”

I am heading to the US this week to visit Las Vegas for the Pink Elephant Conference and Exhibition – going via San Francisco to present at an “ITSM Meetup” event, but the main event will be the annual Pink-fest in Vegas.

I will be interviewing a number of key ITSM industry people at the event for ITSM Review, so look out for that content in the very near future. As ever I will try to a cross section a number of views on the issues and challenges for the industry, with their take on what will be happening and developing in the next year or so.

I myself will be speaking on the subject of ‘2-Speed ITSM’ – a topic I first raised in a previous blog. The gist of this is that there is often a vast gulf between what we see, hear and talk about at these big industry events and the reality of working as a ‘hands-on’ practitioner in a delivery organisation.

 Practitioner vs. Industry View

Of course I’d expect that new ideas, analysis and strategic thoughts are aired at these type of events – although in recent years I’ve often found that there are some big gaps between both what practitioners want from these events and what the ‘industry’ presents as important. This seems to work in two opposing directions – maybe it’s because I’ve contributed and been exposed to a lot of industry discussion over the last few years, but I am still amazed at how much ‘standard ITIL fare’ is presented at these shows – SMFUSION last year was the same, with only a small coterie of people in the ‘thank tank’ providing the insight into new ideas and ways of working. However there are also online events like TFT which generally portray a far more revolutionary and challenging approach to the status quo, perhaps at times at odds with the realities of practitioner life…?

I know from my own working experience that I often go from some futuristic and visionary discussions at conferences, to a ‘retro’ experience of 80s and 90s computing in some client organisations. There is also a regular challenge to the nature and value of ‘the conference’ experience itself – so much is online, so much can be done for communications and collaboration using digital media without leaving your home of office – what’s the point of going to these events at all?

I think its valid to question the nature of conferences, particularly those that still might follow traditional lines – with multiple streams, plenary sessions, workshops, training and of course a vendor exhibition. It does often feel like 2-speed conferences, serving a 2-speed industry…

However…

I do feel that conferences can be really valid and valuable experiences, for all areas of the industry. There is really no substitute for face to face meetings and conversations, networking and group discussions (often in the bar) that help to forge business relationships, develop peer groups and expand knowledge and ideas across otherwise disparate groups of people.

I think our notion of what we can expect to gain from a conference does vary considerably in terms of our experience and expectations, place in the industry, plus also in relation to our view of what a conference actually is.

So it’s useful in advance to reflect on and revise our expectations of what we will want and get out of the event. If this is about learning or hearing some new stuff, then we need to research the programme to ensure we find the right sessions. If we are going to network and develop our contacts, maybe with some socialising, that is also completely valid. I do think that the buy/sell expectation is less and less valid these days, particularly since so much information is online – for many vendors it’s now more about making sure that you are seen and associated with central industry activity, rather than direct selling. I think ultimately for many practitioners these events are a great opportunity to meet other people like themselves and share experiences and ideas.

Overall whilst there is very little about a conference that you can’t do somehow elsewhere, it is in fact the multi-level activity and cauldron experience that is the real USP and makes the experience worthwhile.

So we’re not talking about just 2-speed but multi-speed, which is of course a real reflection of what working life is actually like. Our ITSM industry actually functions at both basic and advanced, simple and complex and futuristic and ‘vintage’ levels – all are valid and, when you attend one of these events, you can experience all of these in condensed form – all life is here…

Look forward to seeing you there – if you have a view or opinion you’d like to share, please search me out and we can have a chat or interview if that suits… You can also contact me in advance. ITSM Review’s Rebecca Beach and Sophie Danby will also be in attendance. If you would like to schedule a meeting with either of them at the conference please contact ITSM Review.


Find Barclay presenting at PINK14:

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Pink14 Preview: Advice for making space for ITSM

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“Carve out some time for service management and make it a priority”

Ahead of his presentation at the 18th Pink Elephant Conference and Exhibition (PINK14), David Mainville, CEO and co-founder at Navvia, gives his advice on ‘making space for service management’.

Conferences like PINK14 are an amazing opportunity to network with your peers, learn new techniques and to re-ignite our passion for service management.

But you know what?  As motivating as conferences can be, the most important question is “what do you do with the passion once you get home”?  That’s the topic of my presentation at PINK14 entitled “Making Space for ITSM”.

So what do I mean by “making space”?

Well, if I’ve learned anything during my 30+ years in service management, I’ve learned that it takes practice and commitment.  Service management needs to become a part of the daily routine, of both the practitioner and of the company.

In fact, anything worth doing in life takes practice – whether it is learning to play an instrument, mastering a sport or getting in-shape – practice makes perfect.  The problem is that for many organizations and practitioners, service management is seen as a project and not as a practice.

Documenting a new change management process because of a recent catastrophic failure, implementing a new service management tool, or tweaking a process because of a bad audit finding, is often confused with a service management practice.   It’s not that these things are bad unto themselves; it’s just that it’s a bit shortsighted.

We come back from our conference all fired up, but all our great intentions are quickly overshadowed by firefighting and the daily demands of the job.  This noise gets in the way of a true practice.

Making space for service management means putting aside the time to do it right, and doing it right means following 5 critical steps.

The steps

  1. Carve out some time for service management and make it a priority.  In other words, there is a human element to the art of service management that can’t be ignored.
  2.  Develop a service management plan along with some short-term goals.  Many ITSM failures stem from either a lack of a plan or an overly grandiose one.  Focus on short term goals with measureable success criteria.
  3.  Build an alliance of co-workers because you can’t do service management alone.  If ITSM tools are the embodiment of a process, then people are the soul.  If you haven’t captured their support, ITSM will never succeed.
  4.  Create a structured and repeatable approach for implementing processes and tools.  You can’t be all over the map; you need something that works consistently for your first process and well as your last.
  5. Establish the discipline and governance to ensure an on-going program.  Building a process and implementing a tool is the easy work.  Accountability and buy-in is much harder – ensure you have management support and governance for your long-term program.

It’s been my experience, both as a practitioner, and as someone who practices service management in his own company, that following these steps is the best way to make real and lasting improvements.

Thanks and I look forward to seeing you at Pink!


David Mainville
David Mainville

To learn more find David at PINK14:

David will also be reprising the presentation for a webinar later in March.

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