Castle ITIL further degrade the standards of ITIL V3 certification and training

It is confirmed from multiple sources that APMG have raised the number of students per instructor for ITIL V3 Intermediate courses from 12 to 18. [Update: well strictly speaking I shouldn't blame APMG, it is the almost invisible IQB, the murky body that represents all the snouts at the trough of training (and not to be confused with itSMFI's International Qualifications & Certifications ESC - the IQC)]. This is clearly recognition that ITIL V3 certification is not about teaching people anything, and will serve only to reduce the perceived market value of an ITIL Intermediate certification. Add to that the fact that this has not been announced to the public (as far as I can detect) and you can see that ITIL certification is all about the industry not the customer.

You can lecture to 18 people - you can't teach them. Telling is not teaching. Individual attention is only possible to 10 or 12 maximum. At 18, a trainer has no idea who in their class will or won't pass; they are unable to reliably identify who is struggling; they don't have the bandwidth for personal attention; and they will themselves struggle to answer the questions of 18 people. This decision makes it obvious that there is no consumer voice on the IQC "governing" body - and there is no adult learning expertise being applied to decisions.

I'm appalled at this and I can only ascribe commercial motivations. Clearly ITIL at both the Foundation and Intermediate level is now about commodity delivery of a product (exam passes), not about elevating the standards of the ITSM profession. I had entertained the idea of getting some V3 Intermediate certifications but that is now gone. I will use my money more wisely.


You missing the point there

Hi Skeptic,

That is maxim number!!!

APMG is leaving that to the ATO to decide what would be the maxim number of people in the class, depending on the trainer skills and also some consideration you might have for your customers as well!! Saying that, I am setting the numbers for trainers and for ex my foundation number is max 18 (not 25); my secondment is at max 14 (not 25) and that only in ''friendlly classes''. If you want to shoot yourself in the foot or if customers flock at your door then you can go for 50 (you just need a second trainer to sit in the back of the class and relaxed).

We can go for maximum number but we don't. In a price sensitive market as we do operate, change from 12 to 14 makes a big difference (as 14 is the maximum we will take); a well prepared trainer would not have an issue with that. Keep in mind that sometime even only 8 peoples squeeze all the energy from you, and if you are not prepared better start doing something else!!


speed limit

Oh right, so we should set the road speed limits at 200kph because people will be sensible and stick to 100 anyway? Sorry coco but what you say doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. What point am I missing?

Makes sense to me

After the conversation with one of our daughters (she had more to say about the subject, including reminding me that she grew up in my seminars and classrooms and that gave her a benchmark for other teachers and an appreciation for student responsibility), Coco is right. I've also had small classes that were harder to teach than large ones -- and I'm not a low-energy presenter.

I don't believe the reductio ad absurdum argument really works here. No one said class size SHOULD be 18 or 50. All I'm saying is that I don't believe it's as big a deal as you're attempting to make it.

Can it make it harder to give individual attention? Sure. But the reality is the learning experience is a collaboration between instructor and student. Both have to do their part.

Does large class size automatically equates to lower pass rates or less knowledge transfer? Absolutely not (see comment above about shared responsibility)

Are there instructors who can't handle it? Sure. Good riddance! :-))


close examination

OK we're going to let trainers drive at 200kph. let's take a look at what they have to do to get a driver's licence shall we? And how about the standards for vehicles? I don't think either instructor certification or courseware quality control bear close examination David.

It has been hard enough

It has been hard enough making sure the 12 people that deserve to be/should be in the room already for intermediate training.

Increasing the size to 18 will just mean you have even more people who shouldn't/don't want to be attending that level of training. You can't blame the client, if they can get more people through the same training program, why wouldn't they send more candidates.

Sure, in a perfect would I would be happy instructing a class with 18 enthusiastic students. I'll let you know if that happens.... :)

Very different points of view


I don't agree with your analogy between driving and the classroom. So we start with a divergent point of view (I wonder if anyone would pay the two of us real money to do a point-counterpoint discussion -- might be fun :-)).

Would I like to see more quality control over instructor accreditation? That's s symptom, not the problem. The problem is standards to be an accredited instructor -- they're a bit low. Even so, yes I'd like to see more QC.

Similarly courseware QC is also a symptom, not the real problem. The courseware aligns with the syllabus. So again, it's not a QC issue as much as it is standards/content/syllabus issue. Change the syllabus and the resulting course material will change.

The core change I'd like to see is actually back in the core books to make the outside-in concept clearer. I'd like to see CSI more pervasively mentioned in each of the other 4 books. I'd like to see more consistency regarding the communications paths that are part of CSI and the resulting organizational maturity. I'd also like to see a companion volume that specifically covers how the 5 core books can be used to develop the "specialized organizational capabilities" mentioned in the Service Strategy book and also the ITIL Glossary.

Bottom line, I think there is an equating of symptom to problem (thus the divergent views mentioned above).


The point with maximum

The point with maximum number.

In your example the speed limit is set to 100; not too many cars (good trainers aka) can reach to 200, and useless to say that if the rest of the peoples drive at 100 I am not so sure how long you will drive with 200 without a crash.

But going back to the title of the blog, I think you rushed a little to early to the conclusion; you didn't account that, true you might have cowboys running classes at max number, but most of the peoples will look sensible into those numbers.


longterm damage

No they won't. Prove it. The classroom training industry is in decline, hit by the double-whammy of recession and online competitors. Since the first priority is profit not professional standards, the requirements get relaxed to increase efficiency. And since the exams don't test what you really know, the pass rates will stay at acceptable levels and everyone will be happy. Except those who employ the students.

So the longterm damage to the value of the certification and to the credibility of ITIL will be great. The ITIL industry continues to eat its own future.

You appear to be arguing for a 200kph speed limit. You must be German.


Hi Rob,

Germans do not argue for 200 kph speed limits (highest limit is 130 kph). They just don't put limits up where they don't need them. Yes, you may drive 200 kph (and more, 250 is still OK) on some roads and still German traffic is one of the safest.

P.S.: I just had to jump into this discussion, sorry ;-)

P.P.S.: The class room limit ist (to my opinon) not the big issue on training quality. The crammed syllabus, the inadquate methods of the exams, the overall targetting of training at maximising short term profits is the biggest issue.

Well, I am not a German (I

Well, I am not a German (I wished to be one these days). But I understand now that you have an issue with germans, might be one of those world cup fustration you just developed!!!

We are having a saying here in my home land, when 2 peoples are telling you that you are drunk you better go to sleep!! You are missing a lot of information regarding how really an ATO is working.


PS: I look forward when you will take on Castlle ISACA procedures as well - there is no limit on CobIT Foundation, so that gets degraded as well by your logic

Castle ISACA

Don't worry, Castle ISACA is indeed an area of interest for me. Right now it is not an area of interest for 95% of my readers, but that will change, especially if ITIL keeps travelling the same road it is on now.

And no i don't have a problem with Germans, well no more than anyone of European descent does...

Deming was right

The training industry has the same problem that Smith Corona did (for those who don't know or remember, they made typewriters) during the evolution of computers and word processors.

Deming was right: "It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."


FYI: official info on the maximum number of training victims

I checked fresh sillabi provided by APMG (most approved June 2010). No info regarding the number of participants was found.
Then I checked EXIN Accreditation Giude. It contains a special section for the matter (ATP8). According to the document, minimum of participants for all ITILv3 courses but Manager's Bridge is 1(one), for the MBridge - 6.
Maximum for Foundation is 25 as well as for Foundation bridge; maximum for Manager's Bridge is 16; maximum for Intermediate (all three types of it) is N/A.
The Accreditation Guide is from August 2009 and by now it is the last "live" version.

Online self-paced video

18 is pretty scary....more chances of a knucklehead trying to take over the class with no respect for the other students.

This may be another reason to do online self-paced video (-:.....

Knuckleheads vs class size

Here we may have to agree to disagree. It's up to the instructor to keep control of the classroom. I've had knuckleheads (not the term I used to describe them :-)) in classes of 10 people!

You can get the idiots-showoff-knucklehead in any class. The instructor's job is to present the material and maintain control of the class. I've actually find it easier to control larger classes because there's more peer pressure from the other students if one person tries to take over.

re: self-paced video

That isn't the solution for everyone either. In fact, I've spent more time tutoring people who thought the online class was a better (read cheaper) alternative compared to time spent teaching in a classroom.


Whole multi-guess approach is flawed

I have done my whack of certification training:
V2 Foundation - 40 multi-guess in a classroom of 15. 26/40 was pass score. (was fine)
V2 Managers - 2x 3 hour written exam in a class of about a dozen. 50% was the pass score (was good)
V2-V3 Managers Bridge - I think it was 20 multi-choice in a class of about 9-10. 16 was the pass score. (any more people in the room could have made it hard to herd the cats given the compressed nature of the 5 day course)

Anyway, the closed book writtten exam format was a much greater test of knowledge, memory and also gave the chance to give some personal reflection / opinion in the exam. You could balance "what ITIL says" with "what we have seen work". It also gave me a good chance to discuss people & culture perspectives, which we all know is what this ITSM stuff is all about, not merely just process theory.

The V3 modules (beyond foundation) seem to be a grab for money first & foremost.

Any shaved monkey can play "who wants to be a millionaire" and pass the multiguess exams.

Not a saved monkey


I'm not a shaved monkey and I passed the Intermediate exams (including managing across the lifecycle). I do not believe your assessment to be correct. I find the suggestion at the end of your contribution...



fair enough - no offence intended

fair enough David - no offence intended.

There are people who work hard & don't pass


Apology accepted.

There are lots of people who attend the class, work hard, and do not pass the exams. I don't think they would appreciate your original suggestion, either.

All too often (and I'm including myself here), we say things without anticipating or understanding how our words will impact anyone else. Ask Rob, I'm sure he'd concur. :-)

As I said, apology accepted.


There has to be abetter term

There has to be abetter term for shaved monkey - yes that's unnecessarily demeaning.

But I think that there is a formula for passing these things easily.

Pass easily if you:
* Have a decent memory and are not put off by a somewhat new language;
* Have a technique for dealing with tricky multiple choice questions (read the semantics carefully, understand how to not get tricked by boolean triple negatives, follow a process of elimination);
* Have a little bit of time management during course/exam time, switch off the Blackberry, focus during course time and ignore the kids for a bit;
* Pay attention in class;
* Have a reasonably competent instructor who will stop show-ponies (self-important knuckeheads as mentioned earlier) taking over the class (which has happened in every ITIL course I've done beyond Foundation);
* Have some real experience of IT management basic concepts (Mgt buy-in = good, SMART metrics = good, Deming cycle = good, Return on Investment 101, RACI/ARCI 101)
* Don't panic when you have to sit your first exam in 20 years (which plenty of people do).

I also think you can pass the exams without:
* Having read, let alone rote learned the books beyond the specific Process bits (about 25% of the books) or a Pocketbook;
* Having actually applied all of the guidance in the field;
* Being a hands-on practitioner;
* Questioning the practicality of taking the books as gospel (that Skep has done to death on this site).

My rationale based on my experience with the Mgrs Bridge and some of my staff having done some of the V3 Capability certificates. Perhaps the "Managing across the Lifecycle" course and cert is completely different. Never seen it and don't know anyone who has taken the pure v3 route all the way aside from instructors from ITIL training companies.

This is to not devalue the certification. I'm proud to have the words "ITIL V3 Expert" on my resume, but I never for a minute think that I am a know-it-all, in fact I think that the ability to understand the cause & effect financials, psychology of change, and risks/gotchas associated with all of this differentiates people more than a piece of paper.

PS: Upon reflection, I reckon the optimal number for an "advanced" ITIL course is about 9.

sort of agree and not... :-)

I've taken and passed each of the ITIL V3 exams -- including Managing Across the Lifecycle. In other words, you DO know someone who has taken the pure V3 route -- and I'm NOT an employee of any training company; I'm independent.

Like you, I'm proud of the ITIL Expert on my resume, I earned it. Also like you, I don't pretend to be a know-it-all on the subject. Quite the opposite, I continue to study and to learn. The ITIL Expert is like earning a black-belt in Karate, it doesn't mean you stop learning (at least if you're honest about it :-)).

I do not believe it's possible for the average person to take and pass the ITIL intermediate exams by sitting a class and using a Cliff Notes study guide. I'd take it one step further and suggest that if someone thinks they can, they are potentially devaluing the certification.


What is required to pass the intermediate exams?

I do not believe it's possible for the average person to take and pass the ITIL intermediate exams by sitting a class and using a Cliff Notes study guide. I'd take it one step further and suggest that if someone thinks they can, they are potentially devaluing the certification.

That's interesting. What do you think that they have to do?

- Should they read all the books (or the one relevant to the particular exam?

- Should they read the 'Official Introduction' or the KEGs? [or are those what you mean by 'Cliff's Notes' - I don't think Cliff himself has shown an interest in ITIL yet]

- Do you mean that they need practical hands-on experience in Service Management? [as was, of course the case for the V2 exams]

- Do they need a course in passing multiple-choice exams?

Or all of the above? [if you've passed all the intermediate exams I suspect you'll find my multiple choice question easy....]

What it takes to pass

Note, I said "average person" there will always be exceptions...

That said, I think people should read the material in the relevant core books that are the primary focus for the specific exam.

I used "Cliff Notes" as a placeholder for abridged replacements or shortcuts to reading the actual core books.

The V2 exams did not REQUIRE practical experience. It helped, but I've seen some of the rubrics, and talked with people who wrote the exams based on YEARS of real experience who did not pass because they didn't have enough specific points form either the of the books (Service Support or Service Delivery). In other words, "experience required" is a myth. It might help, but the rubrics are still based on the books to PASS and maybe extra points based on experience for Distinction.

One of the people who took the V2 exams and did not pass requested a review because she wrote answers based on what she thought she got out of the class and her extensive real-world experience. The private response was that her answers were too much V3. She went nuclear because she didn't know about V3, she was writing about what they actually did (this 3Q 2007). She'd been living/working in that environment for more than 10 years.

Course on taking a multiple-choice exam. I cover aspects of that during the test because I recognize it's something most people don't on a daily basis. I know instructors who do the same thing for the essay exams for V2 (how to write specific rubric points for each question, how to count them, etc.).

For most part it's a matter of reading the entire question and asking the question that is asked, not the one you think is being asked. From that perspective there is some similarity between the Foundation and Intermediate V3 exams as well as the V2 exams.

Are the V2 tests harder? In that they are 3 hours, handwritten, in one sitting... from an endurance point yes. From a test of specific ITIL knowledge, I don't know. They're different enough that a comparison is difficult.


the secrets to finessing multi-choice

I think you're all being harsh on Tom. He didn't say anyone who passes is a shaved monkey. He said a shaved monkey could pass it, totally different thing. I agree with Tom, not only can intelligent and experienced (and may I say handsome) readers of this blog pass the exam, but so too can a monkey with the right technique. I disagree with Tom about the shaved bit - i think hairy-arsed monkeys could probably give it a go too. Here's the secrets to finessing multi-choice

I thoiught we'd settled this

NUTS! Go find any shaved monkey (or not shaved) of your choosing and check the results. Heck get 100 monkeys or any shaving... :-)

I've seen PhD types attempt to bluff their way through an ITIL Foundation exam (and 1 double PhD try it in an Intermediate exam). Both members of Mensa (and they both bragged about their membership) and both had the same result... hint it wasn't success. Sometimes you can be too smart for your own good.

Your guide to multiple choice might help someone who has studied the Foundation material (I don't totally agree with your assessment of question 19, but that's not the point), but it's NOT a replacement for studying the material. It represents NO help for the Intermediate exams.


Not thrilled, but 18 isn't impossible, either!

While I am not thrilled with the increased class size for ITIL training, when this first surfaced a week or two ago (on Twitter, think it was @ivankamenken who 1st raised the issue), I checked with some friends who are also Professors at BU, Harvard, Penn, Temple, Villanova, and UCSD, as well as friends who are also classroom teachers K-12. I also checked with 1 other person I respect more than any of the others, my very own Dr Mom who spent time researching this very area. They all said essentially the same thing.

Ideal numbers in the classroom are 12 to 15 students, 18 is manageable, 10 might be too small depending on the material and the group dynamics required. They all also said that a bad teacher can't handle 10 students and a good teacher should be able to handle 20 to 24 who want to be in the classroom.

A lot also depends on the personalities of the students and their motivations/reasons for attending. I've had classes of 8 people that were difficult (people forced to be there, or no screening by either school or company for private classes) and classes of 20 that worked well with 100% pass rate because the people wanted to be there. I KNEW the students were going to pass, and did a reasonable job predicting the range.

In other words, 18 isn't a magic automatic failure number. Teaching (and speaking) represents a commitment on the part of the instructor (or speaker) to meet the needs of the audience. Good teachers/speakers recognize and accept that, bad teachers/speakers don't.

In ANY situation, it is up to us (each individual) to find a way to get value from time spent. If you've made up your mind, before you take the class that it's not a good use of your time or money, do not take the class!!! One possible result is that your attitude may infect the class and that isn't good for you, the other students or the instructor.

If you're in the States, and I happen to be teaching an ITIL Intermediate class at the time, if I have enough advance notice, I'll invite you to attend as my guest (note, you'll have to pay for the student materials and exam). Similarly, if I'm invited to your home area to teach, if the organizers will allow, I'll make the same offer.

It's not the number that's magic, it's the commitment (or lack thereof) on the part of the instructor that will make this work (or fail).

Again, I'd be happier if they were going to raise the cap from 12 to see them do it to 15, but I know from experience that it is possible to have 100% success with larger classes.

APMG processes, justifications, and motivations aren't a factor in this aspect of the discussion. Would I like more transparency? Yes! Would I be more comfortable with the decision if the transparency included statements from educators (so that I didn't have to dig them out myself)? Again, yes.


Not at all comparable

David and Tom

It seems you define success by pass rate, rather than by whether the students know any more in a month's time than they did before they did the course.

As i said, telling ain't teaching. There is NO WAY you can give proper attention to 15 or 18 students in a high pressure syllabus like ITIL's.

David, your academic advisors come from an entirely different regime: they have a whole year to get the message across, their students do as many hours of self-study as they do class-contact, and they are supported by formal tutorial sessions with small numbers of students reviewing the material with tutors. All the academics have to do is lecture, sometimes to hundreds of students. Totally diffferent.

Nor is K12 applicable - it is well understood that children can be well taught with 20 in a class.

I am trained in adult education, which is not at all the same thing as tertiary education. When you have a couple of days to introduce adults to new skills or knowledge, 10-12 is max. This is a well accepted (well, i thought it was) general principle.

With a good teacher doing proper teaching, there is no reason why IT people shouldn't be getting near 100% pass rates in something like ITIL. It's not rocket science, it is just a matter of getting across common sense narrative content.

Student pass rate important, but not the only metric

There is no denying the fact that in a certification class, student pass rates are important. However, they aren't the only metrics used. Dr Mom was looking specifically at corporate, not university, learning. Her research was specifically focused on the differences that might exist between "school" based learning and corporate. What she found was there was more alignment than previously thought. 12-15 accepted range in "school" with 18 still allowing individualized attention and the same sizes in corporate settings.

The real variable she found in her research was that the quality of instruction was more a predictor than class size.

That said, my pass rates are near 100%. What I tell every class is that we're engaged in a collaborative effort. I'll do everything thing I can to help them pass, but I cannot take the test for them. I teach both subject matter and test taking skills during the course of the course. :-)

I have another friend who works for NASA who maintains that 98% of "rocket science" isn't rocket science, it's welding, plumbing, sheet metal, electric work and... the only part of rocket science that really is rocket science (according to him) is the flight (path) computations. So, from that perspective, I don't know that it's all common sense narrative, but the concepts aren't difficult, either. :-)


Vouching for common sense

If I have discerned correctly, I think DavidM was my instructor for my V3 Foundations class in NYC over a year ago. If so, then bar none, he has more passion for the subject matter than any instructor I've had since high school. He also made it sound like common sense in that classroom. (BTW, I passed that exam with a 92%.)

That said, what appears to be common sense in theory or in the classroom, often is anything but that in the real world. It's not easy to translate common sense theories into actual working processes and procedures, especially where you had very little to start with. Also, one of the biggest obstructions to common sense in the real world is politics, of the office or corporate variety.

Along with the core theories themselves, there should be a lesson on creating a real world business justification for such improvement, and one on specific methods on how to make such improvements operational. That's not necessarily common sense.

Thank you!


Thank you. I did lead that class. :-)

I wouldn't suggest that office politics is an obstruction to common sense, just that either Not Invented Here or its cousin "We've always done it this way," represent probably the most destructive thinking related to creativity, innovation AND common sense.

I don't find ITIL to be theoretical (welll... some aspects of Service Strategy are less practical than information in the other 4 books :-)). I've been in many different shops as a consultant. I've made my own share of mistakes (both individually and in teams/groups) and learned what doesn't work and what does.

In nearly every case with IT excellence, totally independent of whether or not they've heard of ITIL, what there were doing was close enough so that if you didn't know, you'd think they had used ITIL as a starting point -- with the exception of some language differences. The practices aligned!!! That doesn't happen if ITIL is "just" theory.

Getting back to the subject at hand... Classroom Size

I had a conversation with one of daughters today about class size. Her comment (edited because it was rather blunt :-)) was basically "Nonsense" She reminded me that she had a Freshman class of over 120 students in a giant lecture hall and still managed to pass (actually more than pass, but this is her words... :-)).

Her comment went something like this (de-blunted :-)), "Dad, that's so much $%^&*( I had a class of over 120 students that I thought was going to be an assembly like in high school. BIG culture shock when I discovered it was anything but. The plain truth is the studies (about class size) are meaningless for adult learners. If they want to learn they'll find a way, if they aren't interested, 1 on 1 tutoring won't help."

Want to know something, she is absolutely correct!


so much $%^&*

If we're going to talk about so much $%^&* let's not circle back round to university teaching shall we? As we've already discussed, tertiary and adult education are not the same thing. I think there were 300 in my Accountancy 101 lectures. As I've discussed earlier, if that were my sole learning and I had five days to learn an ITIL Intermediate domain, it would not have worked. But I didn't - I had a whole year, with tutorials, assignments and study groups.

With respect, I don't hold your daughter's opinions on adult education at quite the same level as i do my lecturers in the subject and the recognised experts they cited.

It's your stage... :-)


After speaking with our daughters, I remembered that I've spent time working with both the Colleges of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University as well as Community Colleges in both Bucks and Montgomery counties.

We structured programs differently for adult learners (both credit and non-credit) than we did for undergrads and graduates students who never had "work time" following school. You're entitled to your opinion and it's just as valid as anyone else's opinion. I don't know your educational background (and I don't really care) and you don't know mine (and you probably don't care either :-)). I do know the people I worked with at these institutions have spend more time working and studying this field than both of us have lived if you combine everything. :-) There was a reason we did what we did. If you don't agree, fine... that's what makes the world go-round :-))

We're not talking about 120 people or 300 people or even 50 people in an ITIL class. We're talking about a MAXIMUM class size of 18 -- within the range that a good instructor should be able to handle.

As noted in a previous post, if you believe the increased class size POTENTIAL will sufficiently degrade quality, you are the customer! You won't get the value you seek; don't spend the money. That is absolutely the right thing for you to do. However, you also have to accept that the value proposition is based on your opinion, which affects your attitude. That is the precise point our daughter made. You don't want to find a way. Other people do. Guess what, both decision are the correct and proper decisions for the people who make them.


professional standards

I make a large chunk of my living out of ITIL, and I probably will always make my living out of the ITSM profession. Like any other professional, I have a right to object if I see the professional standards being degraded, as that reflects badly on my calling. Your reputation is strong David. That is not true of all trainers. Take my plagiarising friends at Acend Corporate Learning - think they even observe speed limits, let alone stay well below them?
Do you think trainer quality is consistent across the planet?

I wouldn't call them friends :-(

I've got a different word for the folks at Acend Corp Learning... starting with verm... You know what I think ought to happen to them (both the legal part and the part that isn't that pretty).

I've been a consultant in the ITSM space since before it had a name -- but that's as a consultant. I've make a career cleaning up after other "consultants" (term used as label, not capability) so I understand the desire to keep our profession from being not just degraded, but basically insulted by people who do not have a clue.

So, no I don't think trainer quality is consistent. But I'm not convinced that allowing class size to be a max of 18 automatically means that every class is going to suffer either. In truth, I don't believe that you do, either. There isn't some magic threshold that is going all of a sudden expose bad consultants or bad trainers for what they are. Ultimately they all do that by themselves, without our help.

Most of the public classes I've taught have been under the current limit; I don't expect that to change just because the limit has been raised. I've taught several private classes that were over the old limit. I don't really care -- I'll play the hand I'm dealt.

I've had excellent success with all class size (your comments noted, thank you). The real determent has always been the desire and commitment of the students. I'll do everything I can to set them up for success with the exam. The one thing I cannot do is take the exam for them -- they have to prepare and want to pass and be willing to do the work, spend the time, and study. Class size does not change that.


Some clarification

I think, in the end, your daughter is right regarding that view of adult learning. Certainly, for professional training, as company training budgets shrink, most companies are being much more judicious in authorizing such expenses. They will usually only send employees who are motivated to learn something that is part & parcel to their job, and for which the company perceives a benefit to itself in the long run. The learning environment has little influence on that, in my opinion.

While I am not looking to hijack the thread from the original question, I do want to point out that my use of the term 'theoretical' was probably a poor choice of words on my part. All the more embarrassing, since you did stress numerous times during the class that ITIL is real and proven, no longer theoretical. I do repeat that often when talking ITIL with collegues here at work.

I think what I wanted to say is that to me, while the concepts, at a high level, exude 'common sense', the devil is often in the details, at an actual use level. I keep looking for literature that that actually documents in a detailed manner what you describe as the 'what works and what doesn't work' lessons. This is the part that is eluding me. Can you point me to such literature?

Lastly, I think I had office politics on the brain, because recently, a VP level manager, who created and championed an ITIL transformation team here, was let go. He was the only top level management person who did more that just pay lip service towards integrating ITIL principles into what we do. It's still not clear to me how agressively that will continue, although we're being told it will. I guess we'll see.


Proud Papa and...

Both of our daughters have learned to cut through the nonsense to get to what is important. I'm proud of both of them (twins :-)).

I did jump on the theory-base. Sorry. :-)

re: literature about what works and what doesn't.

Several random articles scattered around the net, but nothing collected in one place specifically about ITIL. Working on a piece about patterns & anti-patterns that addresses a small aspect of this...

While I agree, the devil is definitely in the details, that's as much related to organizational culture as it is ITIL. For example, no management support -- something with which you're probably more familiar than you want to be. As I probably mentioned during the class, there are two aspects of that: no support to get started and support that evaporates 6, 8, 12 months into the effort (with the 2nd being more pernicious).

From the perspective of change (and that's what adopting ITIL as a way toward IT Service Management actually is)...

Any change (having nothing to do specifically with ITIL -- read Kotter, Klein, and Kanter for openers) requires buy-in, communication, commitment, quick wins, sustained effort, etc. Morphing and organization from inside-out to outside-in (and that is the intent of service management) requires change and everything else associated with the change process.


More proof Intermediate does not equal practitioner?

The higher the number of students the less time to ensure each student has received the information being conveyed - period. Intermediate level training is marketed by many as 'practitioner' level. Its not. Practitioner should help folks understand how to adapt and apply the information presented. And frankly, each 'process' warrants a 3-4 day class in its own right to do this. Whether you take one core book - Service Strategy, or one capability module, do you really believe its feasible to prepare a student to successfully apply the subject matter - no.

Pass rates are not an ideal guide here due to the exam format. Part of me feels the Intermediate level classes should be repositioned or relabeled perhaps in the market as 'intense' or 'full immersion' in the subject matter - like a 'Service Strategy Foundation' rather than the Wild West marketing in rough economic times of 'practitioner'.

Oh and none of these actually prepare the student for customer first or 'outside-in thinking....

Inside-out v outside-in, Organizational Maturity, & ...


A point I didn't make in my original reply... I believe part of the responsibility of being an accredited ITIL instructor to make that point (morph from inside-out, I manage IT, to outside-in, we support the business need to create and retain customers). Though I agree, I'd be much happier if the ATO-supplied material was much more explicit in this area. The instructor should make clear that there are 2 critical definitions that students should consider remembering, the definition of Service Management (Service management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.) and Service (A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.).

Take it one step further and put the two together and you get this:

Service management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.

The state of these specialized organizational capabilities represents the maturity level of the enterprise. That's something that too many people miss. At it's core, ITIL is more (or at least as much) about maturity than it is about processes. That said, I understand that it's easier for most people to focus on process as the end result. It takes a level of maturity to focus on the customer -- and that's where the focus should be! There's a reason CMMi has 5 levels, with process preceding optimization/improvement.

This stuff isn't new, Peter F Drucker wrote about the concept more than 30 years ago: Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in, it's what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. Drucker was the first (as far as I know) to link quality and value -- quality not from a quantitative defect-count basis, but a customer value basis: Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality

The information is there! The problem is how it's used (and maybe how it's understood by both "practitioners" (term advisedly used) and maybe even some of the people who have created ITIL courseware).

There are good instructors, so-so instructors, and some who really should not be in front of the room. While the Exam Institute accreditation processes is supposed to assure some minimal quality level, I suspect the end result is have certs, have some teaching experience, OK. I'd like to see a "Master ITIL Instructor" level (to be consistent with ITIL Master, that would be based on student feedback, instructor experience, in addition to the standard stuff (maybe doubling or tripling the amount of classroom time required. A good instructor should be able to handle the larger classes (IF as noted the ATOs actually increase the size); the so-so instructors will have to learn; and the rest... see ya! (I hope :-))

The concept of outside-in are inherent in the concept of service management. I just wish more people got that message versus got a tool, we're doing it (whatever) or we're doing the processes and that's all we need. NUTS to both (and related) attitudes.


Class size a factor, but not the only 1


While agree that class size can be a factor, it's not as black and white as you and Rob appear to be making it. I've had classes larger than 12 (before the apparent change) with 100% pass rates. I've also had classes of 6 to 8 that didn't. I know who's doing the work and who isn't. I usually know who should and should not take the test (and I've made that clear to the students). I've been fooled with classes of 18 and classes of 6.

As to whether or not the classes prepares the student for outside-in thinking. That too is dependent on whether or not the instructor gets it. My classes, even at the Foundation level, make it VERY clear!

re: repositioning/labeling the Intermediate classes...

Probably won't really change the content.

Personally, I'd love to see much more lifecycle emphasis on the definition of service management ( A set of specialized organizational capabilities for delivering value to customers in the form of services.) and the fact that it's as much about organizational maturity as anything else. I teach it that way regardless.

Ian and Rob,

I agree that class size plays a factor (and some students need smaller class size and more individual attention), but it's not the only factor. Increasing class size does not automatically mean lower quality. What it MIGHT do is expose bad instructors, but that's another topic for another day and thread. :-)


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