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What does it mean to "adopt and adapt"?

What does it mean to “adopt and adapt” an ITSM framework like ITIL? This question has come up recently in several of my classes. It is not an easy question to answer but one that needs to be addressed early on in any ITSM implementation effort.
The first consideration is the adoption of a framework or perhaps even more than one. Yes, with an ITSM implementation we are not limited to taking on the advice and best practices of only one approach. When we “adopt” a framework, we make a commitment to use the methods, means and approaches laid out within a given framework. This commitment includes being willing to go as far as redesigning how and why we undertake activities and efforts within our organizations. If we want to “adopt” and ITSM framework, but we do not change the fundamental way we approach things, then we have not really adopted an ITSM framework. Adoption requires a fundamental willingness to see things from a new perspective. If you want to redesign your living space you cannot simply rearrange the worn out and in-need-of-replacement furnishings. We want to meld the practices presented in the framework to our “corporate DNA” and become a new version of ourselves.

The second consideration is how to “adapt” the chosen frameworks to meet the needs of our customers. It is important to remember that “adaption” of a framework is not a license for free reign. If your desire or tendency is to change a large portion of the recommended advice then you are not really implementing best practices. You may be simply rearranging your current ways or giving yourself an organizational makeover without addressing the fundamental issues that motivated you to seek out an ITSM framework initially. Adaptation means to adjust the best practices at a detailed level to fit the nuances and nature of your business and its customers. Adaptation includes creating procedures to allow the processes provided in the framework to work in a step-by-step manner and facilitate the use of technology as an enabler of the processes.

In order to effectively “adopt and adapt” we should think about a number of key factors and answer a number of questions:
  • Why does the organization desire or need ITSM? What do we hope to achieve through our effort to “adopt and adapt”?
  • What issues or problems do we currently face or might face for which our current methods and approaches have proven insufficient?
  • Are we willing to give up or throw out inefficient, ineffective and unsuccessful methods that we currently use or have tried in the past?
  • Are we willing to make needed cultural changes in order to facilitate the implementation of ITSM?
  • Are we willing to reorganize our structure and staff to make ITSM work? 
If your organization is unwilling to change or cannot answer these questions confidently then you will want to prepare your organization for a potentially rough road towards implementation. Entering into an ITSM implementation can be a daunting affair. Going in with a plan and a clear understanding of what it means to “adopt and adapt” can help.


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