Key takeaways Pink13 – IT takes a step forward

Published on Thursday 21 February 2013 by in News with 1 comment


Failure is NOT an option! – Apollo 13/Pink13

Fatima Cabral CEO of Pink Elephant set the scene at the start of the 17th annual Pink Elephant conference stressing the need to focus on people, and translate Knowledge into results. She confirmed the GamingWorks  global findings which reveal  still that 70% of IT organizations don’t get the  value from their ITIL investments. The ITIL theory and certificates are of limited value if ‘Knowledge is not translated into sustainable behavior change which results in demonstrated business outcomes’.

Opening films (18th, 19th)at the conference contained some powerful messages about the impact of disruptive technologies, increased business use of, and dependency upon IT, driving a need to Transform ITSM capabilities and skills sets.  Running through the films was the thought provoking and challenging statement ‘Do you get it?’.

Troy Dumoulin VP professional services at Pink in his opening session on ‘Cementing organizational change’ echoed Fatima’s messages about ‘people’ and ‘results’ and how organizational change needs to be a core capability for ITSM programs. ‘We all talk about management of change…but it is the last thing we do’.

These are my 13 key observations and takeaways from attending #pink13. These observations represent a shift in content and discussions from previous years in my perception.

  1. People are starting to get it! I noticed a shift in ‘attitude’ from previous years, a feeling and recognition of the NEED to transform, and a recognition that current approaches are falling short.
  2. Many presentations and discussions stressed the need for addressing the people side of things. The words ‘Culture’ and ‘Values’ were often used. (See our blog on common ‘values’ we see in IT transformation programs, and the common values from the NASA Apollo 13 mission control team).There was a stronger recognition that it is all about ‘behavior change’ and not processes. There was also more talk and focus on ‘Leadership’ and  ‘Leading  change’.  This is a significant trend we see globally and was a Top CIO issue ‘Leadership Development’. Pink Elephants 2nd annual Leadership summit is a good initiative if you are looking for this.
  3. A recognition of the NEED for ITIL Expert plus training, focusing more on ‘practice’, this could be why business simulations were mentioned more at this year’s conference, senior IT managers and decision makers confirming the value and resulting ‘change in behavior’ and ‘more effective deployment programs’ after using these types of learning interventions. (See the supporting survey report we published during the conference week on the benefit of experiential learning). Almost everybody I spoke to recognized a perceived mismatch in the ‘expert’ title of certification and ‘practice skills’ and confirmed a ‘frustration’. The question being who needs to step up to the plate and change this?
  4. There is a worryingly low focus on measuring the impact of training. (See blog on 8-fields model by Jan Schilt). Only 1 person in my class of 25 stated that they measure the value (impact on performance improvements gained) following a training, only 3 measured any ‘behavior change’. Basically we send people on training and HOPE that behavior changes and results will occur.
  5. A recognition that ‘Throwing it over the wall and HOPING that people will follow procedures’ isn’t working. This being a top chosen ABC worst practice in our surveys.  There is a growing focus on, and use of Management of change capabilities, supporting Troy’s arguments, and a recognized need to engage and empower people to take ownership for their own procedures. A shift from the ‘Implement’ or ‘Install’ approach to ITIL. Organizational development teams and HRD being more involved in the programs, and a stronger focus on collaborative approaches, which is why ‘team work’, ‘end-to-end’ and ‘collaboration’ initiatives are popular (see our case on using simulations to foster effective collaboration in IT teams).
  6. A recognition of the need to ‘Do’ CSI. Considering the enormity and pace of change facing IT CSI should be a CORE ITSM capability. However many organizations fail to embed this in the organization before the ‘Implementation project’ finishes. Confirmed by the fact that the ABC worst practice ‘Plan, Do, Stop….no real continual improvement culture’ still scores highly.
  7. A recognition that many ITIL programs are too internally focused without a clear link to Business value. For many years now ‘IT has too little understanding of business impact and priority’ and ‘IT is too internally focused’ have been TOP scoring ABC worst practice cards. This recognition and focus in the sessions and cases signifies at least a shift in attitude….finally!
  8. In my sessions I asked more than 100 people ‘What is the definition of a service?’ about 5 hands went up. So far I have now asked about 5500 people this at international conferences and the average is about 5% of the people who know it….the concept of Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks. Many people go on ITIL training without understanding their business needs in these terms, they are unable to answer the question ‘Why are we doing ITIL’? The closing keynote speaker stressed this as a critical success factor ‘clear, shared goals’.  My advice is ‘Go and ask EVERYBODY who has been on ITIL training what this definition is. When then don’t know  tell them in the context of what it means to YOUR business’.
    Start changing ‘attitudes’ and accelerate the breaking out of the ‘Internal focus’.
  9. There is more awareness of the ‘Customer’, the ‘Voice of the customer’ and actually ENGAGING customer in design. I heard numerous times the term outside-in thinking, and more presentations and case studies confirming this need. After  moaning about this for 10 years in our ABC of ICT presentations I am excited to see this shift, supporting the call to action made by Stephen Mann’s of Forrester in his blog calling for ‘2013 the year of the customer’.  My advice, the same as last year, ‘Send EVERYBODY into the business for 1 day to learn how IT services are used’.
  10. All ITIL business cases seemed to be based on ‘Sense of urgency’, ‘Pain’ and implicitly – ‘Risk’. George Spalding’s horror stories of ‘computer glitches’ and figures about the millions of $ wasted through outages underpinned this. (Google search ‘computer glitches’ was George’s advice if you are looking to make the business case for ITIL).
  11. There is still too little conscious awareness and  explicit focus on managing risk. This also needs to be a core capability of ITSM.  I asked in my presentation whether delegates recognized a good chance of the ‘Computer glitches’ happening in their organization, The majority confirmed they saw this risk yet their business decision makers were not aware of this risk, impact and likelihood.  Rob England also summed this up well comparing the IT value to the Police value ‘To protect and serve’. Rob stating we spend too much time on the ‘serve’ and not enough focus on ‘protect’.
  12. There is a lot of ‘noise’ from the supplier community about ‘Business value, and ‘Business outcomes’, the need for ‘Business and IT integration’.  There is a need, as George summarized nicely, to  first to bring the ‘block and tackle’ processes under control and demonstrate our capabilities here before expecting to become a business partner seen as delivering value add.  Demonstrating that we are managing business risks, reducing wasted costs and preventing business losses is the first necessary step in gaining ‘Trust’ and ‘Credibility’ from the business.
  13. There was more talk of ‘Governance’ and the need for the business to also accept ownership and accountability. The word ‘accountability’ was used in numerous presentations as well for IT. The closing Keynote by Chester Elton also confirmed ‘Accountability’ as a CSF. Governance brings it all nicely back to behavior. My favorite description of Governance if from Weill and Ross “The decision making and accountability framework to encourage the desirable behavior in the use of IT”.

All in all I had a more positive feeling than previous years that we are beginning to ‘Get It’, but the challenge is ‘Can we, and will we DO it?’ Can we demonstrate the necessary ‘desirable behavior’ to take ITSM to the next level?  In the words of Gene Kranz Flight Director of the Apollo 13 mission ‘Failure is NOT an option!’ and I am sure AstroPinky would add ‘Do you get it?’



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