ABC of ICT: ‘I don’t want brown bananas’

Published on Wednesday 3 October 2012 by in Blog, News with 1 comment

The ABC of ICT was the plenary opening presentation at the Service IT Support Summit 2012 held in Sweden. The conference was organized by Profecto and sponsored by the ‘‘ and ‘DF Certifiering AB‘.

Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks presented the Attitude, Behavior & Culture within IT organizations and stressed how this is THE number 1 critical success or fail factor for ITSM improvement initiatives.

During his presentation Paul once again confronted the audience with a few critical questions. ‘How many are doing ITIL‘? – 60%. ‘How many doing ITIL have read ‘Planning to Implement Service Management’? – 2 hands went up! Both trainers. Is it any wonder 70% of ITSM improvement programs fail and many meet with resistance if people do not know how to apply best practices.

Paul asked ‘Put your hands up if you can tell me the definition of a service according to ITIL’. 2 hands went up, again trainers. Is it any wonder  ‘ Unable to specify the VALUE for the business’ and ‘ITIL is THE goal, not what you DO with it’ both score high in ABC of ICT worst practice assessments, and both score high with business managers who don’t see the value of of this “ITIL stuff”.

With the growing importance of IT to ALL organizations we can no longer afford to fail to bring ITSM under control. As ITIL V2011 explains, ITSM is becoming a strategic capability and as such IT employees are becoming strategic assets. It is now time to start demonstrating it, and behaving as such, If we don’t the consequences to both IT and the business are unacceptable.

Together with Leif Andersson from Profecto Paul presented the ABC of ICT cards as an awareness and assessment instrument, and conducted a mini workshop. The ABC of ICT cards contain 52 Industry recognized WORST PRACTICES in IT Service management.

Top cards chosen during the Resistance exercise in Sweden:

  • Never mind about following procedures just do what we normally do
  • Saying Yes and doing NO
  • Process managers without authority
  • No management commitment

These cards all being ‘Implementation related issues’, hardly surprising really if nobody has read ‘Planning to Implement Service Management’!

There was nodding consent in the audience and recognition when these results were presented back to the teams. Indeed people circumvent procedures and revert to old ways of working. Worse is the fact that people say they will follow procedures but don’t. The poor, long suffering process managers have no authority to do anything about it and take the only course of action open to them – to escalate to management…..who then display the number 1 resistance card world wide. ‘No management commitment!’.

I explained that managers, when confronted with this card are most adament that they ARE committed. They have sent memos, presented at the kick-off to the program and sent some emails about results. However this isn’t what management commitment means to the people at the sharp end of service delivery. Senior management commitment means addressing people ‘saying yes, but doing no’, ‘never mind about following procedures just do what we normally do’ – especially when this behavior is displayed by middle managers. management commitment means ‘walk-the-talk’, ‘Lead-by-example’ and  set clear expectations and goals about ‘Why ITIL?’ and ‘What is it expected to deliver’ in terms of Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks.

You don’t want Brown bananas!

Other Top chosen cards from a customer perspective were ‘The solution the customer see’s isn’t the one that IT see’s‘, ‘IT thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case‘ and ‘IT is too internally focused‘. The teams discussed the negative impact of these cards on Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks and brainstoremd countermeasures or solutions. They then had to convince Paul and Leif as business managers to invest in these ITSM solutions. Solution were seen  as ‘IT needs a place on the steering committee’, or ‘Implement Service Level Management’. As business managers we kept asking why, where is the business case. Finally somebody got it. The team started talking about business outcomes ‘You don’t want brown bananas!, the more we can align our IT resource allocation to the right strategic business opportunities the better able we are to manage the value and prevent risks to your strategy….such as ending up with brown bananas.’


The teams were energized to go away and start addressing ABC and making improvements….not so fast. Most improvement initiatives struggle because of resistance. Leif showed the global top 10 worst practice cards in relation to those chosen in Sweden. These global top 10 can be found on the Forrester website, and represent the key types of resistance to ITSM improvement initiatives.

Paul promised at the end of the session to make available the top 10 critical success factors from the experts for helping prevent or deal with these key types of resistance.

Will anybody take away the critical success factors and do anything  WITH them?… of the top chosen ABC cards world wide is ‘Not my responsibility!’……only time will tell. The delegates were challenged not only to go and do something about it, but come back NEXT year and tell their experiences to share and give back to the ITSM community and others struggling with EXACTLY the same ABC related issues.

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