ITIL Practitioner – dealing with ABC in OSLO

Published on Thursday 16 June 2016 by in News with no comments

GamingWorks, together with their partners and the itSMF, have been conducting ABC (Attitude, Behavior, Culture) workshops around the world for more than 15 years. Year-in, year-out we see the same ABC ‘worst practices’ being recognized as reasons for ITIL and ITSM failure. Despite the fact that there are some 2 million ITIL certificates still 70% of organizations we survey say they ‘fail to get the hoped for value of their ITSM investment’ – It would appear that the current ways we train people do not help them translate the theory into practice. This is one of the reasons the ITIL practitioner was developed.

To help address these issues the ITIL practitioner guidance has introduced 9 guiding principles. In addition to these, the guidance introduces three critical competencies. These being ‘Organizational Change Management’, ‘Communication’ and ‘Measurement & Metrics’. Each of these competencies is supported by a practical ‘Toolkit’ of templates, checklists and tools to help drive an ITIL improvement initiative. ABC is one of the ‘Toolkit’ items to help support ‘Organizational Change Management’. (See Webinar on ITIL Practitioner).

In this article we will explain how the ABC of ICT was used in the itSMF Workshop and what ‘practical takeaways’ were discovered using the 9 Guiding principles.

The itSMF Workshop

At the itSMF workshop GamingWorks and Sopra Steria used the ABC of ICT cards as an awareness and assessment tool. The delegates could assess their own recognized ABC issues which are preventing ITSM success.

The delegates were split into teams, each team given a set of ABC cards.

The teams were asked ‘Which 3 cards represent the ‘resistance’ you see, or expect to see, when trying to ‘implement ITIL’?


  • ITIL never work here (supported with ‘ITIL is the goal, not what it should achieve’)
  • No understanding business impact and priority
  • No respect for, or understanding of users


  • No management commitment
  • Process managers without authority
  • Never mind about following procedures just do what we normally do


  • Plan, Do,Stop…No real continual improvement culture
  • Not my responsibility
  • 9 to 5 culture

The delegates were then shown the Guiding Principles of the ITIL Practitioner (See Axelos video for a more detailed explanation).












The teams then received the following tasks:

  1. Each team choose a top card (from all the cards selected in the first exercise), which of the cards chosen has the most negative impact on Business Value or Outcomes, or causes the most negative impact on Costs and Risks.
  2. What is the impact of this card?
  3. Which Guiding principle was inadequately addressed, and as a result may have caused this card? Or which guiding principle when adopted will help address this card?
  4. Which ITIL components could help address the card chosen? (As input as a potential CSI items).
  5. Which stakeholder(s) need to display which concrete behavior to deal with this ‘Resistance’ card?

Below are the results of the tasks:

This card was chosen as a top card by 4 of the 6 tables. And was coupled with a high score for ‘Not walking the talk’.











Card: No Management commitment


  • Difficulty getting funding for improvements.
  • Difficulty obtaining resources and prioritizing initiatives.
  • Processes not used, behavior ‘Saying YES, doing NO’, coupled with the card ‘Process managers without authority’ will result in ‘Never mind about following procedures just do what we normally do’.
  • Risk of doing the wrong things, wasting resources, damaging business value, staff demotivation
  • ROI of improvement initiative not realized.
  • Going back to old ways of working

 Guiding principles:

  • Transparency. Need for transparency in ‘Tasks, roles, responsibilities, accountability and authority’ for managers in terms of ‘business as usual’ but more importantly, in terms of ‘Organizational Change management’. Managers must continually communicate the Value of the initiative and ensure managers ‘walk-the-talk’ – lead by example.
  • Focus on Value: ITIL project/process managers must demonstrate the value of their initiatives to maintain management commitment.


  • RACI models, also showing management responsibilities
  • Metrics & measurements must demonstrate Value realization. Progress must be made transparent to all involved to maintain commitment.


  • Managers need to ‘walk-the-talk’ and lead by example
  • Managers must confront people circumventing agreements – including other managers!
  • Communicate: reinforce key messages ‘Focus on value’ – Why are we doing this! And also the RISK and consequences if the change fails (Sense or Urgency).
  • Provide clear direction on ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable behavior’.
  • Support process managers with ‘authority’ to get things done.
  • Celebrate and recognize ‘success’.

CardNot my responsibility













This card was also related to ‘managers not walking the talk’, ‘Never mind following procedures just do what we normally do’, ‘Process managers without authority’. These cards when coupled with the number 1 card chosen ‘No management commitment’ is a recipe for failure!


  • Poor quality (Risk that Value/Outcomes may not be achieved), waste (rework/costs).
  • Service levels may not be achieved
  • Dissatisfied Customers
  • Frustration

Guiding principles:

  • Transparency: often roles and responsibilities not known, These need to be clearly defined and agreed.
  • Transparency: Managers must walk-the-talk, confront people on responsibilities.
  • Collaborate: Agree Roles and responsibilities together, end-to-end. Also design processes and tooling together to gain buy-in and deal with resistance.
  • Observe directly: Show impact on Value and User experience of this behavior.

ITIL? RACI models, clear definition and agreement of roles and responsibilities.


  • Managers: Apply ‘Consequence management’ confront undesirable behavior, reward and recognize desirable behavior.
  • Foster a culture of ‘Open, direct, honest feedback and confronting each other on agreements’
  • Show and discuss impact on value and User experience of ‘not taking responsibility’.

Card: Superiority complex…..we know best.

This card was also coupled with ‘No respect for, or understanding or users’.


  • Too many assumptions
  • Dissatisfied users
  • Risk that the wrong priorities will be given
  • Risk that solutions do not support real needs, value and outcomes not achieved.

Guiding principles:

  • Design for user experience – first understand the impact of our behavior on the User experience and the impact on what they do.
  • Observe Directly – go and see how services are used and the challenges the users face.


  • Transparent: show impact on users experience and value


  • Using the ABC cards helps ‘surface resistance’. Resistance is a FACT when adopting and deploying best practices.
  • The Guiding principles help focus on the essential aspects for success, such as ‘Focus on value’ and ‘design for experience’. Too often ITIL initiatives are internally focused and ITIL becomes the goal! Not what you NEED to achieve with it.
  • Identifying the resistance, its impact and countermeasures (which stakeholders e.g senior sponsor, reinforcing sponsor needs to display which behavior) is a valuable RISK management exercise to help ensure success when adopting and adapting.
  • The ABC exercise and the results is also a good way of creating a sense of urgency for ‘management commitment’.

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