ABC of ICT – The top 10 types of resistance to ITSM Best practice initiatives

Published on Monday 9 July 2012 by in Blog with 3 comments

……The LATEST RESULTS……2500 respondents…..15 countries……numerous failed ITIL initiatives….

As IT becomes increasingly important to business operations more and more IT organizations are turning to ITIL and other such ITSM frameworks to bring IT under control and provide services that deliver business value. ITIL sums up perfectly what we in IT need to deliver “Value to customers in terms of outcomes they want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.”

Unfortunately MANY ITSM improvement programs fail. Reports vary, stating that between 70% and 80% fail to deliver value. A Forester report revealed that 52% fail because of resistance. These failures cause wasted costs and increased business risks. These failures are no longer acceptable.

Despite more than 2.000.000 worldwide ITIL certificates still most initiatives go wrong if we are to believe the figures. I personally have played Apollo 13 our business simulation with more than 1000 different customer organizations and I too can reveal the feedback from the sessions confirms the difficulties organizations are having adopting and deploying best practices. Obviously something is missing in the training and certification approaches being generally offered! If we are to finally remove these wasted costs and risks and deliver real value with the frameworks it is important we identify these types of resistance so that we can learn to address them.

We have surveyed 2250 ITIL practitioners who have together been involved in literally 100’s of ITSM improvement projects to identify the top types of resistance. We used the ABC of ICT card set and asked the practitioners to choose the top 3 types of resistance they most often encounter. The itSMF in the US also held a series of ABC workshops at local LIGS to also capture feedback.

This article identifies the overall Top 10 types of resistance chosen.

Please use these to help you improve the chance of success for YOUR ITSM improvement initiative. Hopefully the training companies and consulting companies will translate the findings into solutions so that we can manage the costs and risks and finally start delivering value.

The Top 10….

  • No management commitment. 
Managers giving ‘lip’ service to the importance of ITIL, or managers not ‘Walking the talk’. Managers who don’t address the issues of ‘Saying Yes, but meaning No‘. Managers who withold or withdraw resources.  Managers who become frustrated at the lack of results and withdraw commitment.  It is clear from the Linkedin discussions that management commitment needs to be consciously addressed and fed with quick wins and progress to ensure they remain committed. It isn’t necessarily that managers willingly don’t show commitment. Very often they simply don’t know what is expected from them in terms of commitment.
  • Saying ‘Yes’, but meaning ‘No’ 
People promise to deliver new procedures or designs and fail to do so, other work is more important. Or in live operation people say they will follow a procedure or update a tool but don’t….. When managers back-up this type of behavior or fail to give direct, open feedback the problem becomes a spiral of failure and people saying ‘see! we told you ITIL was no good’. Without management commitment this will derail your ITSM improvement initiative.
  • ITIL is the objective not what it should achieve  
Very often we communicate to the organization ‘What’ wil happen but not ‘Why’. ITIL is the goal not what we want to achieve using it. ‘Other people are adopting ITIL we should too….’, ‘We are going to ‘Implement’ ITIL…..’,  ‘That is what it says in the book!…’. Often ITIL initiatives are too large or too complex and are not ‘fit for purpose’. People try ‘Implementing’ too much too fast, setting unrealistic ambitions and goals. Go and ask EVERYBODY in your organization to tell you the definition of a SERVICE according to ITIL. Very….very few know. Tell them it is all about Value and Outcomes against Costs and Risks,then explain that in the context of what YOUR organization is trying to achieve with ITIL.
  • Plan, Do,Stop……No continual improvement focus. 
Too often ITIL projects are simply that! projects. The results are not embedded into a continual improvement cycle to ensure as business needs change or new IT solutions are deployed that ITSM remains aligned and that processes continue to deliver value and protect against escalating costs and risks.
  • Never mindabout following procedures just do what we normally do. 
People do not like to change. If they see no reason or value they may resist. If there is too little management commitment this type of resistance will rapidly grow. This type of resistance can be displayed at all levels including the business and users if they perceive ITIL as a barrier.
  • ITIL Never work here 
A general resistance to changing the way people work. A lack of belief that ITIL is necessary or it will make a difference. Often people are not told or convinced of the need to change, or there is a denial that change is necessary. Once people are confronted with the fact that ITIL will happen the resistance is centered around lack of time or resources. The pressure of existing workload demands and perceived lack of staff become even more strained because of ITIL demands, causing increased frustration and resistance.
  • Throwing (ITIL) solutions over the wall and HOPING that people will follow them. 
Despite the more than 20 years of ITIL, we still do not know how to adopt and apply ITIL. We still fail to engage and involve people in designing their own processes and procedures. We still think we can ‘Implement’ or ‘Install’ ITIL. In the ABC of ICT – An Introduction industry experts shared their tips and approaches…..The question is does anybody feel responsible for reading them and doing something with them…..or will most people adopt the number 5 resistance characteristic ‘Not my responsibility’.
  • IT thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case.  
 A survey using the ABC cards to identify the top ABC within IT organizations reveals number 1 ‘IT has too little understanding of business impact and priority’. Partly this is compounded by the fact that IT is still too ‘internally focused’. Often there is a business case or set of metrics and measures however they are generally ‘internally focused’ and have too little customer or service focus. strained because of ITIL demands, causing increased frustration and resistance.
  • Unable to specify the VALUE required by the business 
We still do not fully understand the Value and outcomes we need to achieve using ITIL. 70% of ITIL initiatives are still unable to measure or demonstrate value. IT is not seen as an added value partner and does not know how to gain the trust of the business. Whenever we ask at an ITIL conference who knows what the definition of a Service is according to ITIL less than 5% of the hands go up……..although 90% are busy ‘Implementing’ ITIL. The question is ‘what are they hoping to achieve with ITIL?
  • Everything has the highest priority according to the users 
Is it any wonder! If we have spent more than 15 years ‘playing with ITIL’ and most companies do not understand business impact and priority or the value they expect to deliver to the business using ITIL.

Who has successfully overcome these types of resistance? tell us what YOU did to overcome these so that we can share them with the community. If you are just embarking on your ITSM improvement program be aware of these. Ensure YOUR consulting or training provider explains how they will help address these types of resistance.

If you are a training company use these and reference them in your training and help people recognize them and overcome them.

How to overcome? see the ING case. How ING overcame resistance and created buy-in and active engagement to their improvement initiatives.

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3 comments

How to overcome The Top 10….
1. No management commitment. This includes managers who offer only lip service to the importance of ITIL and those who withdraw commitment and/or resources when they become frustrated by a lack of clear results.
2. Saying “yes,” but meaning “no.” People who promise to follow a new ITIL procedure of use of a new tool but do not.
3. “ITIL will never work here.” A general resistance to ITIL and/or a lack of belief that ITIL will make a difference.
4. No focus on continual improvement. ITIL is instead treated as a “plan, do, stop” project.
5. ITIL itself, rather than what it will achieve, is the objective.
6. IT thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case for ITIL.
7. Preference to follow current procedures rather than adopting new ones.
8. Not being able to demonstrate the value of ITIL to the business.
9. Throwing ITIL solutions over the wall and hoping people will follow them.
10. Everything has highest priority.

Paul,

This article summarizes in brief the core problem that any ITSM approach faces…it’s the discrepancy between the needs for a real value rather and the shallow wants of an ITIL label!…human nature prefers to do what it used to do rather than changing the daily practices, I believe ITSM is an inherited approach of the overall organizational culture, the healthy culture will impose a right ITSM if only implemented from top to down…as you wrote it’s about the ABC! This zooms out the view! Just to add, From C we can change A and B…. Thanks, I have shared it on my LinkedIn profile

Mohamed thanks for the feedback. I agree it is all about creating the right culture which requires senior management commitment. I am pleased to see that managers often change their ‘attitude’ and subsequent ‘behavior’ when confronted with the number 1 card ‘no management commitment’ being selected in their organization. We often then brainstorm concrete actions managers must display to demonstrate commitment. cheers

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