The Recipe of Best Practices
Implementing the guidance provided by ITIL is very much like cooking. If you have ever cooked something using a recipe (even if it is the directions from the package) you know that although you can vary somewhat from the recipe or directions, you cannot change the recipe substantially and expect the stated results. When cooking cakes or sweets, if you add too many eggs or too little oil or too much sugar or leave out an ingredient, what will result will probably not be what you intended. Recipes (and package directions) are best practices just like ITIL. Package recipes especially have been formulated to achieve the optimal results each and every time you make the food. But we must follow the recipe to get the results.
This is not to say you cannot adjust (or “adapt”) the recipe based on your own tastes or even serving suggestions from the package. Adjusting or adapting does not mean rewriting the recipe or completely ignoring the package directions because you do not agree or like the way the original creator wrote the recipe or directions. Adjusting or adapting means fine-tuning the existing recipe (to make it slightly sweeter or more crumbly) or adding other elements to the final product to make it suit your tastes or dietary restrictions. We must remember that the recipe is the recipe. If we want to bake biscuits we must use a biscuit recipe, not a brownie or cake recipe.
Adjusting and adapting ITIL must be thought of in the same way. We may not like what the best practices tell us we must do or even how we must do it. However, if we decide we are going to rewrite the processes or change the way we design services or how we determine our Configuration Items, then we should not expect the results intended with the best practices. It is a classic case of “wanting our cake and being able to eat it too.” We cannot remake best practices to suit our desires and expect optimal results. We cannot effectively manage and control changes using a demand management process.
I have encountered numbers of implementers who want all the benefits, enjoyment and success that ITIL makes possible. However, they want to rewrite best practices because the effort of doing things as ITIL states is “too painful” or “too theoretical” or “not reality”. We must keep in mind that we make our reality, rather than our reality making us.
What brings many people to ITIL and ITSM is the desire to do things differently or to get better results. These goals require that you “adopt” the recipe and “adapt” to fine-tune to your needs. When implementing ITSM and using ITIL you must be ready to accept the best practice guidance if you want to enjoy the full satisfaction that those “recipes” can provide.