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Culture Shift

When one thinks about how things work in the world, the word paradigm might come to mind.
Paradigm (n.)-- A system of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality.
As the definition shows, a paradigm represents “how things are” in our current world. Another way I like to think about the idea of a paradigm is to use the term “culture.”
Culture (n.)—The known environment in which a person, thing or idea exists.
If you know a foreign language or how to play an instrument it is part of your own personal culture, or paradigm. If you do not speak a foreign language or cannot create music, those capabilities are not part of your culture or paradigm. And just as an individual has a culture or personal paradigm, so can an organization. Often it is this culture or paradigm that wreaks havoc with our ability to understand and implement IT Service Management. So how do we understand and use the knowledge of our cultures or paradigm to our advantage when implementing ITIL processes or the ideas of ITSM?

First we must start by understanding the factors or elements of a culture or paradigm:
  • Protective: the ability of a group to provide stability
  • Organizational: the ability of a group to create internal structure
  • Value: the ability of a group to fulfill needs
  • Social: the ability of a group to create interaction
  • Spiritual: the ability of a group to understand its own nature and purpose
  • Intellectual: the ability of a group to reason 
Each of these areas must be examined for an organization to get a sense of the view of reality a company carries. Each organization will have a unique culture, yet there will be similarities between distinct organizations due to the structured nature of the elements.

Looking at each of the areas of culture will help an organization create an assessable and examinable picture. Once you identify the cultural elements, you should examine each one carefully to help answer some basic questions:
  • Is our culture mature?
  • Is our culture helping or hurting our effort to implement ITSM?
  • Is our culture understood and perceive the same by everyone?
  • Is our culture flexible and changeable?
  • Is our culture in need of revitalization? 
These are certainly not the only questions that can be asked. But they will give you a start to identifying what might need to change, be redesigned, be rethought or even stay in place within your organization to help your ITSM efforts. Now it is up to you to begin the full examination of your culture or paradigm and see if it is in need of a shift.

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