From Crime Scene Investigation to Continual service Improvement

Published on Friday 24 October 2014 by in Blog with no comments

In our business simulation sessions I often ask organizations adopting ITIL ‘What does CSI stand for’? More often than not I get blank stares as people struggle to try and remember. ‘Ooohhh we had that yesterday in the ITIL training….that was sheet number 256 or something like that!’ – somebody usually quips ‘Crime Scene Investigation’.

Judging by the way many ‘ITIL implementations’ are inflicted upon organizations this is quite accurate!

It is a crime the way in which some have used ITIL to kill an ITSM improvement initiative – Beating the users to death with bureaucracy; processes for the sake of processes; little understanding of the goals of adopting the framework !  Not that this is anything new. Every year for the last 10 years the same worst practice ABC cards are selected in surveys showing the top types of ‘resistance’ to deploying best practices! We seem to have a problem translating the theory into sustainable improvement.











A business simulation game is an ideal instrument to help people understand how to translate ITSM theory into practice, to create buy-in, and to empower people to identify their OWN improvements THEY want to take away and apply. Improvements aimed at demonstrating results. Improvements that match their level of maturity and readiness to change.

ITIL is simply a CSI approach!

One of, if not the most important, critical success factor people discover in the simulation sessions is  CSI. Why is this so critical? I suspect that not one organization anywhere on this planet has implemented 1 single ITIL process from ‘0’ to optimized maturity in 1 go, no organization anywhere has implemented ALL ITIL processes in 1 go (although some have painfully attempted to do so). Therefore ITIL is nothing more than a CSI approach! However CSI is usually given the least amount of attention and effort. ITIL is usually some ‘project’ that gets ‘ installed’. Once the ‘project’ has finished we can go back to the old ways of doing things!











In a simulation game people learn how to pragmatically apply CSI.  Often one of the key takeaways from our simulation sessions is the CSI register. Between game rounds the teams use it to record issues that need solving – focused around the 5 P’s (People, Process, Product, Partner capabilities aimed at realizing Performance). They know they cannot solve ALL the issues before the next game round so they select and prioritize. ‘Which improvements will have the most impact on our Performance – VOCR (Values, Outcomes, Costs, Risks)?’

By focusing on VOCR it helps break out of one of the top scoring ABC issues (Attitude, Behavior, Culture) – ‘IT is too internally focused’ and stimulates a healthy end-to-end dialogue about the ‘why’ question as opposed to the ‘what’ and ‘how’.  When we play a game we have people representing the complete end-to-end delivery chain in the room as it helps them understand dependencies and how to assess and improve their processes TOGETHER, breaking down silo’s– after all an end-to-end value chain (process) is only as good as the weakest link. It is also a good way of identifying and capturing resistance.  The CSI register gives visibility and empowers all to use it.











In the game a real life situation suddenly became highly visible and a heated discussion started.

One of the Help desk staff in the game wrote on the CSI register ‘2nd level not keeping the Tool up to date’, referring to the incident tracking tool and the KEDB. In the room were the IT director and a Senior manager. ‘Who feels responsible for this?’ I asked. ‘The Incident manager’ said the manager of the 2nd level specialists in the game. ‘Is the incident manager authorized to address your staff for not using the tool?’ I asked.  ‘No’ said the manager  ‘They are my staff, I tell them what to do’!











OK’ I said, in that case ‘Your staff are not doing their job, I’ll hold you responsible’. ‘What do you mean me’ !? , I asked him ‘Did you tell them why they should be filling it in? How important it was? And that they should notify you or the Incident manager if they were not going to keep the tool up to date? Did you tell them what you would do if they consistently failed to update the tool with relevant, accurate, timely information and workarounds’?

‘Errrr……..’ I showed them the top scoring ABC resistance card for ITSM/ITIL improvement initiatives ‘No management commitment’ , coupled with the card ‘Managers not walking the talk’. Often Process managers have no authority or empowerment and managers do not support or give their commitment to ensuring processes are ‘fit-for-use’ and ‘fit-for-purpose’.  The team then agreed to keep the tool up to date in the next round to enable ‘management and control’, ‘prioritization’ and ‘escalation’.

This is so simple and powerful. We can use this!

The IT director saw how everybody was taking ownership for recording process improvements which were then assigned to the relevant people at the start of the next round. At the same time managers gave their commitment to these improvements. ‘This is so simple and powerful’ said the IT Director, ‘We are going to use this, this helps us focus on prioritizing our improvements, we can’t improve everything as well as manage the on-going workload, we must prioritize our resources effectively’.










A number of organizations took the CSI register away and applied it directly. One organization translated their key learning into a set of core values (see our blog on values). These would represent the guiding ‘ principles’ or the culture they wanted to achieve and described the ‘desired behavior’ they wanted to realize.

  • Customer focused’ (They had explored and defined the top 10 types of concrete behavior that represents customer focused behavior, and identified how and in which processes this needed to be embedded).
  • Ownership and responsibility’ (…and confronting each other with direct feedback on agreements made).
  • Result driven’ (personal, team, process and organizational goals drive priories, decision making and escalation).
  • CSI is part of our DNA’  (improving your work IS your work, the CSI register is owned by ALL).

These core values were hung up on the wall throughout the building, next to recognized ABC worst practices the organization wanted to remove and the CSI register where people could record improvements they wanted to see:







Onze warden’ – list of core values the TEAMS agreed to stick to, and the ABC worst practices they wanted to remove.

csi register








The monthly CSI register – Not enough room to record all the ideas.

The IT Director and the management team assigned priorities and communicated to the teams which improvements would be picked up and actioned; which actions would be imbedded in ongoing projects; which actions would be embedded in the line; which actions process managers would own and which actions the MT would own. The improvements were also embedded in individual performance improvement discussions between managers and employees and into process KPIs so that the improvement could be measured.

The CSI register became an empowerment tool, it also showed the level of ownership from people to identify and record improvements and it was a transparent instrument that showed commitment to carry out improvements.

Did it make a difference playing a simulation? Our survey results with more than 35 organizations revealed the top 4 benefits of using a simulation (on top of ITIL theory training):

Provider top 4 named benefits Customer top 4 named benefits
Better understanding and buy-in for ITSM best practices, experiencing the benefits Improved quality of services resulting from the change in behavior as agreed in the simulation game experience
Better understanding of other groups perspective People started applying the behavior they had experienced in the simulation game
Better understanding of customer expectations and customer centric behavior Reduces time, cost and effort to implement as people have a better understanding of how to apply after following a simulation
Agreed improvement actions captured & willingness & commitment to execute them People got together more after the simulation game to analyze and improve their work together

Another Customer who went through the Apollo 13 business simulation experience as part of a culture change initiative called us up 3 months later: 

“I wish to register a complaint” he said, sounding quite cheerful.

We wondered what it could possibly be, the evaluations were all positive.

“What is it?” we asked a little concerned.

“I cannot book a meeting room any more, they are always full!” he said. “

“We don’t understand? What has that got to do with us?”.

“All the meeting rooms are booked for 30 minutes, the entries in the planner all say ‘Apollo’. The rooms are booked by 3 or 4 people from different departments who never used to talk to each other. They get together to analyze a bottleneck and make improvement agreements…”

“It is unbelievable” he went on to say. “We have been trying to get people to improve their work for years, we have tried quality approaches and process frameworks….you play a GAME with them all and after 1 day they all become change agents!!!”.

It wasn’t a real complaint he said. It was a luxury problem. “However” he went on to add “I am now put in a difficult position. I now understand what management commitment means, I now get all these teams coming up to me with a mass of improvement requests, I do not have the budget or resources to solve them all so some teams become disappointed. We are now a victim of our own success, but better this than the way it used to be.” 


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