Groundhogday. A call to action to increase success!

Published on Monday 11 March 2013 by in Blog with no comments

I took another two headache tablets today. The doctor was worried about the purple swelling on my forehead. ‘How did you get that?’ she asked in a concerned way ‘It’s from banging my head against a brick wall for the last 10 years!’ I said. She looked at me in a way that suggested a padded cell might be more appropriate than headache tablets. Looking at the state of affairs in the ITILized world in which I work I am inclined to agree.

In this blog I want to give a simple, pragmatic, fast, cheap action that people can carry out that will revolutionize ITIL training, increase ITSM success and help solve world peace….Ok maybe that last bit is overly optimistic.

Before I give the advice I want to ensure we are on the same page and see the same ‘Sense of urgency’  for the need to accept the advice.

Each year we see literally hundreds of IT organizations taking part in our business simulations and workshops, over the last 10 years this represents thousands of organizations! The majority having already undergone ITIL training and having already embarked upon an ITIL ‘Implementation’ project. I decided to write this because an IT manager at the #pink13 conference came up to me after my session  and asked  ‘Do you have something for my headache? You are so right with what you said…. We sent lots of people on ITIL training and have a lot of certificates, the CIO and the business are complaining about ITIL value’. The good news is more and more people, particularly customer organizations are starting to recognize this, and starting to question and expect more from training, hopefully the next step is they will start demanding more from the training companies.

Almost every training session I give is like Groundhog day all over again. Groundhog day is the film in which Bill Murray wakes up each day to relive it again and again. Each training I begin with positive energy and enthusiasm and end up within minutes being disappointed, frustrated and angry.

Disappointed because I genuinely believe ITIL is a powerful beneficial framework but people don’t get it! So what DID they get from the training?

Frustrated because I see the same mistakes being made again and again….and again in the same old way, so what did the training teach them?

Angry that we as an industry have allowed it to get so far. The training and certification schemes for ITIL sadly do not help solve the challenges and problems facing organizations.

‘That’s your opinion!’ I often hear from disgruntled training companies and industry experts who say I attack ITIL and am negative…..with a headache like mine you’d be negative believe me! Now I need to underpin the headache with facts?  I am not attacking ITIL! I want to see ITIL and ITSM training move forward so that it delivers more value and results.

I start every session by asking: How many of you have done ITIL training? The majority of hands go up.

How many can tell me the definition of a service? (so far more than 5000 people less than 5% of the hands go up).

I tell them the definition ‘A service is a means of delivering  Value to customers by facilitating Outcomes they want to achieve without the ownership of specific Costs and Risks’, all you have to remember, I say, are four words. Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks.

All you have to remember are four words…Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks.

Why is your company ‘doing ITIL’’? I ask …….I get blank stares and a bewildered look. Very few know WHY their organization is doing ITIL and what the business would consider the value of such an investment. One of the top chosen ABC worst practice cards from more than 3000 organizations is ‘ITIL is the objective not what it should achieve’. This was a top 10 card 10 years ago and is STILL a top 10 card…..dunk….dunk…..oops plaster has just fallen  from the wall and I left a blood smear.

So what can we realistically do to address this? There is little chance of getting the training and certification scheme aligned to what is NEEDED.

I want to make a call to action to training companies. Please, Please…ask people (especially in an in-house training) to bring their IT strategy plan to the ITIL training (Or senior IT managers plan, CIO year plan or whatever represents what IT is trying to achieve as agreed for the business). This will serve three purposes.

  1. It allows the customer managers a chance to communicate their plans and make people aware.
  2. It can be used as the context for learning about how ITIL can help contribute.
  3. Hopefully it represents a business or customer perspective and will help break out of the’ IT is too internally focused’ top scoring ABC worst practice.

Tell them the definition of a service and ask them to look through the plan and identify Value, outcomes, cost and risk statements and needs.. I just did this with one organization ‘We found it they declared excitedly’

What they found was this:
‘...The IT organization will deliver products and services that comply with agreements made with the customers. They will deliver in a transparent and demonstrable way within the rules laid out for governance, risk and compliance.

The IT organizations will use KPI’s to actively steer on:

  • IT management costs
  • The quality of the services delivered
  • Management of risks
  • At the same time using periodic measures of Customer and employee satisfaction

We were then able to explore the ITIL processes the organization was attempting to deploy (deploy for the second time after a failed process and tool implementation) as well as the delegates roles in these processes.  Exploring how for example Incident management could help reduce IT management costs (e.g first call resolution, use of matching and work-arounds) and how this could help manage risks (priority and escalation mechanisms, linked to the impact of incidents). We explored what quality meant. What could we find in the plan relating to quality? ‘ timeliness….’ , ‘ accuracy…’ , ‘ first time right…’ , ‘ better informed…’ .  People explored which processes could help enable this.


‘I am starting to get it’ said one technology expert. ‘We just discovered more about why we need ITIL in 5 minutes. In the ITIL training we had hundreds of theory sheets and terms and no context as to how and why.’


Another specialist held up the ABC worst practice card ‘ ITIL is the objective, not what you should do with it’, ‘ This is the way we have applied ITIL so far…..will the management team also be getting this workshop?’  

What I find regularly is that people know the existence of such a plan but nobody has read it, managers and team leads to not refer to it and periodic meetings do not talk about progress against it. Very often I have to blow the dust off it before opening the plan.

I am hoping my suggestion doesn’t fall on deaf ears. The most common argument I hear against this is ‘We don’t have time in the training! We have to get through the theory so that they can pass the exam!’….never mind about Why are we doing ITIL and when can we say it was worth the investment, never mind about being able to demonstrate V,O,C,R……let’s just make sure our ITIL certificate pass rates are the highest.



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