Guerilla ITSM: When management doesn't care

What should you do if management does not care? resign or stay and fight?

What if no one cares?

No matter where you turn for enlightenment or support when starting an ITSM journey, one of the first things you learn is that management support is essential, if not fundamental, to succeed.

You only need to scan some LinkedIn groups or other forums scouting for questions like the ones I ask all the time:

  • “Where do I begin?”
  • “What to do first?”
  • “We want to establish problem management/a service catalogue/ an event manager and wonder how?”

The first bunch of answers are all versions of “Make sure you have management support”.

The ITIL books

If you happen to own some ITIL books and turn to them for guidance they also say that you need management support and some more or less extraordinary situation to be able to succeed with an IT Service Management initiative.

The ITIL Service Strategy book has a chapter about creating a strategy for implementing service management with some types of implementations listed. The one that describes the current situation at my organization best is called “even keel mode”. (The other modes are trouble mode, growth mode and radical change mode)

“Decision makers feel that their organizations are well managed and on track to meet their organizational objectives. Although there may be some minor difficulties within IT, these are not significant enough to initiate any projects aimed at changing the way IT is managed.”

Spot on! So what to do?

The literature suggests

“Resigning and joining an organization more suited to their enthusiasm and skills, especially if they are passionate about IT Service Management.”

How uplifting.

What if you still believe change can be valuable to your organization and you feel deep within that you can do better? You can of course argue that you should remain silent and do what you´re told by management and that is perhaps the only way at some companies.

But that’s not for me so when I found myself in this situation I decided to do something anyway.

The grass root movement

I was hired to become a configuration manager about 20 months ago. My boss and the other managers didn’t really know what configuration management was but they kind of had this feeling it was important. They really didn’t have much of a clue to what IT Service Management was but had appointed some process managers to “implemented some ITIL-processes”.

The first time I met the management team I was given the chance to present how I was going to develop configuration management. I was asked only two questions, revealing quite a lot;

  • “When can we see the CMDB-tool?”
  • and “What makes you think you can actually make this happen?”

I teamed up with some of my fellow process managers to start discussing how we could develop ITSM together and deliver progress in the value creation we saw possible, if we just got to make some changes to how we do things around here.

With the help of a consultant that we managed to steal from another project we analyzed the current situation from an ITSM perspective showing the level of maturity of our organization bearing on process development.

The analysis with the accompanying recommendations was distributed to middle management through my boss and we got his boss to give us some money for a consultant of our own that could help us better understand what to do and how to do it.

We are now six months into a long and intricate journey of change and at least middle management have begun to show some interest in what we do. It would be unfair to say that they are supportive yet but they have moved from being unconcerned to showing interest.

The point

Don’t quit just because there’s a lack of management support. If you’re passionate about developing ITSM in your organization you can. It takes a long time and the pace is sometimes deadly slow, but my god you get to sharpen many skills in the meantime.

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3 thoughts on “Guerilla ITSM: When management doesn't care”

  1. This, Tobias, is the real role of the much-maligned “hero.” Let’s call the role “Champion” instead. One person with a conviction and a commitment to improvement can certainly make a difference in an organization–even one that is essentially “asleep at the wheel.” Anyone who says otherwise is either inexperienced that this sort of thing, or is a cynic who has defeated the opportunity without trying. Thank you.

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