itSMFNZ12 – Results of the Post conference workshop

Published on Saturday 16 June 2012 by in Blog, News with 2 comments

Following the itSMFNZ12 conference we held a 1 day combined ABC – Apollo 13 workshop. A team of 12 tired delegates, their heads already crammed full of new insights and actions, were subjected to an intensive experiential learning session. Their ITIL theory and their conference take-away actions were put to the test.

The aim was to expand upon the theory and learning from the conference and start translating the new insights into practice. The session combined exercises using the ABC of ICT (Attitude, Behavior and Culture) cards as an assessment, together with a business simulation game.

Results of the  ABC ‘Customer’ exercise

The first exercise using the ABC of ICT cards was the Customer exercise. At the start of the exercise the team was reminded of the messages from Owen McCall, keynote speaker. His presentation was on how ‘Excellent customer service’ drives customer advocacy. However many IT organizations are still not customer focused enough, or delivering excellence. Many pay lip-service to being ‘Customer focused’ but what does that really mean. This exercise was focused on identifying worst practices and barriers standing in the way of excellence and the negative impact on Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks caused by these worst practices.

Task 1: which cards would your CUSTOMER choose if asked?

These were the cards chosen and the impact.

ABC worst practice card chosen Impact
Saying yes but meaning no Wrong projects, things not done, possible lost revenue and lost productivity
No respect for, or understanding of the Customer Not doing things that are important to business, can cause lost revenue, damaged reputation, missed opportunities
IT is too internally focused Delayed solutions, wrong solutions, risks to business through wrong decisions and investments

The team then took part in the business simulation game Apollo 13 – An ITSM Case experience. The facilitator played the Mission Director and told the team that the above behavior was unacceptable. The Mission Director insisted upon ‘Excellent customer service‘.

The team then designed their processes – without any interaction or dialogue with the facilitator (Playing the role of Customer) to find out what the strategy was or what the customer saw as ‘excellent‘, the team also failed to define for themselves what behavior would they see that demonstrates ‘excellent service‘. The team demonstrated how deeply routed – ‘IT is too internally focused‘ is, as well as ‘ITIL is the objective, not what it should achieve‘ cards, commonly selected in ABC of ICT surveys.

As usual there was chaos and confusion and processes and supporting technology were poorly aligned. The customer was not happy and the team had no idea whether they had achieved their service levels, although eveybody was pretty sure the answer was ‘no‘. This team performance and behavior supported the findings of the ABC of ICT workshop findings at the start of the conference.

We then reflected and the team made improvements. At the end of the second round the customer was satisfied and service levels achieved. So why was the customer satisfied? What was excellent service delivery?

  • The team had a better understanding of the mission, goals and critical time periods of the customer business cycles and processing.
  • The priority and escalation were agreed with the business and everybody was aware of, and followed these.
  • People took ownership and accountability for their roles and for the agreements.
  • The users were informed of status, given pro-active information and informed if deadlines could not be achieved.
  • The business was now involved in process design and in prioritizing improvements.
  • The team conducted a customer satisfaction survey to identify improvements.
  • People confronted each other on agreements and reminded each other of deadlines.
  • The team had insight into issues and were able to use this to discuss and agree workload with the business.

Key take-a-ways from ‘Apollo 13’ workshop to be applied

At the end of the session people were asked two questions. “What did you learn today about translating ITIL theory into practice and how to deliver ‘Excellent customer service?’”, “What did you apply today that you need to take away and apply in YOUR organization?”. The following tables shows the results of the questions posed at the end of the ‘Apollo 13’ workshop.

QN: ‘What did you learn” 

People Need to involve the customer continually (in design, status, priority, decision making, improvements); need to engage with the customer and not assume; engage with the customer early on and throughout the process; understanding and aligning with the business; listen to business and ask who, when, what, why, how, where; talk to the customer – check back on satisfaction 6
Need to AGREE levels of roles and responsibilities, AUTHORITY and ACCOUNTABILITY; accountability breeds success + happiness; people must have authority; Take responsibility for your part of the process and point out where the gaps are 5
People need to be fully engaged for success; people must understand reasons for improvements; Working together to determine a team approach using the 5 P’s; Need for IT teams to be working together to deliver AGREED outcomes 3
What an ITIL expert should be able to do! Not read books but drive the change; pulling the guts out of the theory and getting back to the essentials (The CSF’s of what it is all about) 2
Assumptions cause frustration (and mistakes and poor decision making)
Leadership starts with one person
Requires ABC change, as people manager
Realization that IT people are too internally focused


Process The value of these CSF’s; Key success factors about ITSM: ITIL=V,O,C,R, ITIL= Management & Control capability. ITIL= performance management capability, ITIL= CSI capability, Need to apply the 5 P’s; 5 P’s – communicate, engage and celebrate with team; The impact of applying these CSF’s; Process should enable management and control (e.g manage and control incidents, manage and control agreed process results, manage and control the improvements) 8
Embed CSI from the beginning;  CSI isn’t hard, doesn’t take long. 30 minutes in week/month; how to structure CSI (pragmatic); CSI is essential; A structured and pragmatic way to do CSI; CSI – to continually check. Not just plan, do, stop! 6
Got together and worked out our end-to-end process; working together to agree end-to-end processes is valuable 2
Process, Process, Process! Use it!; Keep it simple


Performance Agree on priorities from business point of view (V,O,C,R); Working WITH our customer to find out their V,O,C,R and their priorities for improvement; The importance of V,O,C,R; always think about V,O,C,R 6
I don’t think of customer by default, I put it in my terms not theirs
Need to agree what services are we providing & outcomes expected
Stabilizing operations first before ATTEMPTING to become a strategic partner

“What did you apply today in the Apollo 13 workshop that you need to take away and apply in YOUR organization?’ 

People Management commitment is holding people accountable for actions if they circumvent the process. Need to address issues ASAP: Hold management/ITpersonel to be more accountable; encourage ownership and leadership 4
Operations manager is not passing on ass kicking, he is protecting them and encouraging bad behavior
Engage with team more; Remind myself how good it can be!


Process Implement pragmatic CSI 30 minutes a week/month to reflect and improve; CSI.- embed it. Just start it; 30 minutes of structured meetings (facilitated) make a big difference; Use the structured, facilitated 4 P’s; CSI is essential and not part of BAU; apply the pragmatic steps for CSI, which are

  • Get end-to-end people together
  • Discuss and agree what went wrong
  • Structured and facilitated using 5 P’s
  • Benchmark against current performance V,O,C,R
  • Involve the customer in prioritizing against V,O,C,R
  • Assign roles and responsibilities, this includes management and authority & accountability
  • Pilot/Trial  process
  • Implement tools only as appropriate to enable process and roles and to manage and deliver value and outcomes
  • Anchor CSI – daily, weekly, monthly, in Incident, change, project review
  • Reference TIPU, Maslow’s IS hierarchy, Lean principles
Involve the customer throughout process design (Customer facing/interacting processes); remember the customer and agree process priorities with them; engage with customer more 4
Apply the CSFs – : ITIL=V,O,C,R, ITIL= Management & Control capability. ITIL= performance management capability, ITIL= CSI capability, Need to apply the 5 P’s; 3
Simplify approach 2


Product Service & fault logging quality by running them through structured CSI process


Performance Improve only things that are important to the business; Understand key BUSINESS (Not IT) requirements. Would like to work with team to improve their customer; Ask my customer ‘what are we not doing? What is their V,O,C,R;  Don’t be so internally focused, include the customer, remember their goals; work with customers to understand their V,O,C,R, bring it back to IT to understand and implement 7
Strive to create excellent customer service; get everyone into a lecture theatre and clarify ‘what is excellent customer service? ‘- what behavior will we see that demonstrates this? Customer excellence is key 4
Need to clarify what service we as IS are ‘Offering’/ committing to the business; clear mission 2

The team was once again challenged, as in the itSMFNZ12 conference. ‘Who will now go away and apply these improvements? who will come back next year and present at the conference?’. Fortunately there were at least 2 people. I am looking forward to the case presentations next year!


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