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Lifelong Learning - Recommended Reading (Part 1)

As a follow up to my recent discussion on the differences between being a ‘student’ and being a ‘learner’, I thought it would be useful to provide a somewhat comprehensive list of readings and source material to help those who are heading into and/or beyond the pinnacle of their ITIL learning journey—Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC).  Preparing for MALC requires a deep level of commitment, beginning with a sound understanding of the five ITIL core books.    To truly be an ITIL/ITSM Expert, you should develop some complementary skills in Organizational Change Management, Business/IT Management and other ITSM frameworks and standards?   While it is unreasonable to expect a learner to complete all of these readings as part of their MALC preparation, the spirit here is to recommend a versatile business view that will serve you before, during and after you become an ITIL Expert.    The road doesn't end at MALC - lifelong learning habits will keep your knowledge and perspectiv

The Service Desk of the Future

The Service Desk of the Future Complimentary Webinar Join us on Thursday, October 17th at 11am (Eastern) Panelists: Donna Knapp, ITSM Academy, Curriculum Development Manager Every aspect of the service desk has changed in recent years: people, processes, and technology; the use of data, information, and knowledge; and, perhaps most dramatically, users. Today’s technology users are increasingly savvy and self-sufficient. In this session, we explore the strategies companies are using to address trends like social support, mobile support, self-service and self-help, BYOD, and cloud computing.  Attendee will also participate in a debate about the role of the service desk in the future and walk away a checklist of considerations to consult when developing future-state road map for their own service desks.

Are You a Student or a Learner?

Are you a student or a learner? We do not often stop to think about the labels that society applies to us during our everyday lives. However, the roles we play and the labels we apply can be very reflective of how we see the world and how we react to the environment around us. Such is the case of the roles or labels of ‘student’ and ‘learner’. So what do these labels mean and which one is the proper one to apply at a given time? The role of student is one that has to do with skills and competencies. The role of learner has to do with passion and curiosity. Students are time-bound; learners are life-long. We associate students to curriculums, objectives and expectations. We associate learners to awareness, visions and desires. Students sit in classrooms; learners inhabit the world. Students gain through education and training; learners gain through experience and inspiration. So which is the right role to play or label to wear? Well, both are correct and are not mutually exclu

DevOps and the IT Culture Cocktail Party

Join us on Thursday, September 19th at 11am (Eastern) for a complimentary webinar; DevOps and the IT Culture Cocktail Party .  Presenter: Jayne Groll, ITSM Academy Co-Founder.  Register  Organizational culture plays a major role in adopting and adapting Service Management processes. Given the uptake of multiple frameworks, standards and practices, IT has actually evolved into a multi-cultural society, each with its evangelists and detractors. This presentation provides the ingredients for a potent “IT Culture Cocktail” using DevOps as the mixer. Come join the party and become an “IT Culture Mixologist”. 

Documented Policy

Governance : Ensures that policies and strategy are actually implemented and insures that the required processes and procedures are followed.   This includes the defining of roles and responsibilities, measuring and reporting and taking any actions to resolve any issues identified. Policy : Formally documented management expectations and intentions.   Policies are used to direct decisions and ensure consistent and appropriate development and implementation of processes, standards, roles, activities, IT infrastructures and anything that will give guidance on the management of your organization.   The objective of policies and procedures is to document an organization’s policy for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill that policy.  Policies and procedures answer the “what” and “how” questions for individuals within an organization.   Written documentation will allow for consistent treatment across the organization.   Policies and Procedures also help to create an in

Are You Ready for Some Football?

It’s that time of year where the kids are heading back to school, the seasons are about to change and YESSS it’s time for the NFL to begin its new season!    The other night I was watching the HBO series NFL Hard Knocks about the Cincinnati Bengals training camp and it dawned on me how much a football organization is similar to an ITSM organization and how they incorporate ITIL best practices in their methodology.   I know you are saying, what the?????? But hear me out and let me show you a few comparisons. Strategic Plan :   Win the Super Bowl and become the world champions.   Well defined, well communicated.   Everyone in the organization understands what the fans ( customers ) want. Strategy defines the perspective, position, plans and patterns that the organization will need to execute to meet its business objectives.   This began at the end of the previous season ( CSI ) as the coaching staff reviewed statistics ( CSF & KPI ) to identify improvement opportunities for the ne

ITSM – We’ve Gone Loopy! [part 2 of 2 ]

In Part 1 we discussed homeostasis in animals and compared it to negative feedback loops required to stabilize and sustain performance via Continual Service Improvement systems for optimized service management.   Negative feedback loops allow for real-time self-correction in systems and therefore contrary to the name have a very positive effect for the delivery of services throughout the value stream.   Ok!   If negative feedback loops are positive then what about positive feedback loops and how might those be used for ITSM? What is so positive about positive feedback loops? In a positive feedback loop we see the target set point as a challenge to move away from. We strive to move beyond the set point or perhaps from one stage to another. Positive feedback loops are used when we want something to happen very quickly.   We can optimize and exploit with positive feedback loops. Vivid childhood memories make real the lessons of patience as we waited for the fruit to ripen befo

ITSM … We’ve Gone Loopy! [ Part 1 of 2 ]

Feedback Loops Negative and Positive    IT professionals agree that vital information is required in order for a service provider to adapt to the ever changing dynamic needs of the business.   Best practice tells us we should create a culture of ongoing continual service improvement (CSI).   In order to propose strategies for service improvement plans that will allow us to meet the ever changing demands of our customer we need to get a pulse on what is really happening in our internal and external environment.   Taking a SWAG at it is not good enough. Data, information and knowledge are not enough.   A service provider needs to provision the measurement systems that will enable success.   In comes “Feedback Loops”. Negative Feedback loops are positive for ITSM A Negative feedback loop brings you toward your target set point to optimize and sustain an internal stable environment.   An animal maintains homeostasis or a stable body temperature through negative feedback loops.   H

The Semantics of ITIL and ITSM

In a recent class I heard learners intone that ITIL and ITSM is just an argument over semantics. For those not familiar with the term, "semantics" is the study of the use of specific words in a given context. And yes, ITIL and ITSM are really all about semantics. That is because semantics are important. How and when we use specific words can change the complete meaning and intention of our communication. This is important because the words we use in conversation or written communication reveal our thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, behavioral patterns and wisdom. ITIL in particular is like a language. Different languages approach the idea of semantics differently. A language like English or the Latin- based languages have relatively few words that have multiple meanings and can be used in many different contexts or usages. A language like Greek or some Inuit languages have a lot of words that have very specific meanings and can and should only be used in specific contexts

Balance in Operation III

In every organization the one constant is change.   In service operation, all functions, processes and related activities have been designed to deliver specific level services.   These services deliver defined and agreed levels of utility and warranty and doing so while delivering an overall value to the business.   The catch is this has to be done in an ever changing environment where requirements, deliverables and perceived value changes over time.   Sometimes this change can be evolutionary or can take place at a very fast pace. This forms a conflict between maintaining the status quo and adapting to changes in the business and technological environments.   One of the key roles of service operation is to deal with the tension between these ever changing priorities. This struggle can be broken down into four general imbalances that provide the service provider an opportunity to develop some guidelines to resolve these conflicts: ·          Internal   IT view vs. External

Conducting an Internal ITSM Asssessment

One of my followers recently asked about approaches to performing an organizational ITSM assessment.   I’ve summarized some of his questions: 1.       While surveys, interviews and workshops are assessment methods, would focused interviews with individuals pertinent to the process being assessed be a good approach?   2.       Should my final assessment score for a process be an average of several people’s maturity level ratings on that process? 3.       Should my assessment only include participants who are directly involved with that process? Assessments should take a well-rounded approach to gathering information, input and feedback.   It’s not a one-size-fits-all.   If you have the ability to conduct one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders, that’s a great way to encourage dialogue through open-ended questions.   While the results may not be as measurable as some other assessment techniques, interviews provide the unique opportunity for deeper probing and fo

VOI and ROI of Release and Deployment Management

I was recently asked about the ROI and VOI of Release and Deployment Management.   Let me start by acknowledging that there is a lot of confusion about the difference between Release and Deployment Management and Change Management.     Change Management is a risk management, governance process.     Release Management is more actionable – it is about bringing one or more changes to life through defined pre and post production activities.    You could almost call it the DevOps process. The growing requirement   for rapid (some would say continuous) deployment does not undermine the need for quality releases.     In fact, a structured approach to rapid deployment is more critical than ever since there is less time to flush out errors.   You can make the process more agile by building release models for different types of releases.   The models can match the rigor associated with building, testing, implementation testing and deployment with the complexity, risk, business n

ITSM Education and Training For Everyone

In 1911, Frederick Winslow Taylor initiated the modern practice of business management. In his work Principles of Scientific Management , Taylor put forth the idea that running and managing a business is a science based on data and proven methods, rather than a series of ad hoc, unguided and uncontrolled actions. Unfortunately, Taylor was a victim of his day and age. He had good intentions in putting forth “scientific management”, but based his ideas on some flawed principles. Taylor stated one these principles in this way: “Now one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any other type. The man who is mentally alert and intelligent is for this very reason entirely unsuited to what would, for him, be the grinding monotony of work of this character. Therefore the workman who is best suited to handling pig iron is un

Best Practice as a Meme

When looking at ITSM best practices we need to look at the culture of our organizations and understand how we would transform our organizations into value-laden delivery mechanisms. A culture is just the "known environment in which we live and work." Cultures are organic constructs--they are grown and guided, not imposed or dictated. Every person, group and organization has its own culture. The culture of an organization is really the aggregation of the individual or group cultures found within the organization. As a result if the culture of an individual, group or organization is not an environment focused on delivering value to customers, then transformation should occur. So how do we go about transforming our cultures? We can look to some of the liberal arts for assistance in this. From the study of sociology we find the concept of "memes".   meme--an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture . Many of you might

“Meeting” is not a four letter word

At one time or another we have all opened our email, only to find a meeting invite and think (fill in bad word of your choice) Different organizations communicate and collaborate in different ways, depending on the message, decision or topic at hand.   Under certain circumstances, a virtual or physical meeting may be the best vehicle for making a decision or collaborating on a common objective.    While most meetings strive to be well controlled, brief and focused on facilitating a set of actions, this does not always happen. Here are some simple and effective ways to ensure that a meeting is a success: ·         Establish and communicate a clear agenda in advance.   This will allow people to prepare properly and will help the facilitator in preventing his or her meeting from being hijacked by one of the attendees. ·        Most organizations have a governing set of rules for participation in a meeting. No biting, scratching, spitting or name calling is encouraged.   R

Balance in Operation II

Last year I delivered an article on the challenges that IT organizations face in trying to balance opposing goal and objectives especially in light of the fact that in every organization the one constant is change.   The focus of that piece was the tension between the perspective that IT is a set of technology components (Internal IT view) and that IT is a set of services (External business view).    All process and functions in Design, Transition and Operation have been design to meet the changing needs delivered by Strategy and CSI.   Insuring that the resulting services continue to deliver defined and agreed levels of utility and warranty and doing so while delivering an overall value to the business.   This forms a conflict between maintaining the status quo and adapting to changes in the business and technological environments.   One of the key roles of service operation together with design and transition is to deal with this tension between these ever changing priorities. S

The Best of CSI, Part 4

Kotter's Principle - Head to Heart Originally Published on April 5, 2010 The other day I was researching John P. Kotter’s Eight Steps for Transforming your Organization. This approach for organizational change is discussed in Chapter 8 of the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) book. While I was exploring his website: http://www.kotterinternational.com , I came across one of his principles which discusses how to present your vision for strategic change. Communicating the corporate vision for change out to an organization is a critical success factor for the adoption of IT Service Management. I agree with Kotter’s principle that not only do you have to speak to the “Head” but you have to speak to the “Heart”. I am extremely passionate about ITSM and the benefits of CSI. The following quote from his website really spoke to me: “People change because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings, not because they were given endless amounts of logical data. When changing

The Best of CSI, Part 3

Creating a Metrics Program Originally Published on November 30, 2010 Every organization should create a metrics program to ensure that business and process improvement goals are being achieved. We need to have the ability to show that processes achieve results and we must review and schedule process audits. A metrics program describes the measurements needed to achieve business goals. It also identifies how to collect the data and how to use the information to continually improve performance. An effective program focuses on what you should measure to achieve business goals, individual process performance and process interfaces. Each of the best practice frameworks stress metrics as a way of assuring continual improvement. ITIL defines the "7 Step Process" for identifying, collecting, analyzing and using data.  The Deming Cycle's "Check" stage requires that we have methods for monitoring and measuring processes.  The Balanced Scoreboard looks at performa

The Best of CSI, Part 2

Sustainment Originally Published on August 21, 2012 Performance (noun): The capabilities of a person, process or system, esp. when observed under particular conditions How long can you hold your breath? How fast can you run? How long can you go without food and water? Each of these questions is tied to an understanding of your personal ability to perform. The same holds true of processes and systems. Ultimately a person, process or system can only perform to a peak or optimal level for so long. Energy wanes, process steps get skipped and system elements and components wear down or break. So how do we improve our ability to sustain peak performance? The key is to understand how the person, process or system functions, and understand its limitations and “breaking point”. Once we understand the limits and boundaries of peak performance we can implement Continual Service Improvement approaches to help improve the individual performance of a person, process or system within th

The Best of CSI, Part 1

  We conclude our "Best of" blog series with Continual Service Improvement.   CSI and the 7 Step Improvement Process Originally Published on January 24, 2012 I would like to revisit the 7 step improvement process from the perspective of CSI, since there has been a slight (logical) modification to it.   The concept of measurement, what we measure, gathering the data , processing it into understandable formats and then being able to analyze it, is fundamental in our ability to perform (CSI)   Continual Service   Improvement as an overall vision and in support of the business need and the underpinning of tactical and operational goals. 1. Identify the strategy for improvement: (Plan) Talk to the business, to your customers and to IT management.   Utilize your service catalog and the associated service level requirements to define a starting point.   The question “What is important to the business?” must be answered.   Look to the corporate vision, mission, goals