On entitlement and bodies of knowledge

We've had two recent attempts to seed change in ITSM: SMCongess and SMArch [aka ArchSM or Taking Service Forward or TSF or Adaptive Service Model or ASM....] The response has not all been edifying.

There has been a murmur of emotional reaction amongst the chattering class, on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. The key word being "emotional". I've written already about how this emotion is not useful. Only a small amount of the reaction has been rational and hence useful. I hope mine was. Much of the emotion (and counter-emotion) has been destructive. It resulted in me resigning from the ITSM Weekly podcasts [clarification: NOT as a consequence of anything my co-hosts Karen, Simone, or Tristan did! Love ya, team!]. Personally I find this hubbub all a bit embarrassing and I hope not too many people outside our little circles are watching.

People complained about not being invited to SMCongress or SMArch or the earlier Axelos consultations. Everybody has to stop being so sensitive and entitled. In schools now everybody gets to play on the mat and gets to read their essay and gets a prize. It doesn't prepare them for the real world. Kids, the real world isn't fair and there are winners and losers.

The hippies didn't change that. They just got dirty and poor. Woodstock was one of the first open events: inclusive and huge. It featured some cool music but none of it was created there. As well, the food and water ran out, the environment degenerated into filth and illness, and the traffic jammed.

The current Me-generation won't change it by whining either. The people in those ITSM events earned their invitation through gaining the respect of those in control of the event. It's not a perfect mechanism but it is the real world. Who got invited to play at Woodstock?

I'm not upset I wasn't asked to any of these events (not even Woodstock). After seven years of hard work and having developed a few good substantial ideas, I think I had more chance of an invitation than some of the noisemakers. Another hard lesson they don't give in school: earn your stripes, kids. Loud isn't enough.

The key point is that these events are just trying to start something. Along with overblown feelings of entitlement there is huge impatience for an immediate fix. Let Axelos seed the ideas with a few minds in a room. It could have worked for SMCongress. It could have worked for ITIL V3.

If one is wanting to create a public movement or body of knowledge the key is the next step: proper public consultation that is broad, sedate, moderated, and given enough time. Not an open mosh-pit but rather managed input to guide and test a first draft. It needs to be a good product (I think SMCongress's output wasn't), but it doesn't matter how good it is if it is met with a baying mob. Consultation will only work if people behave with rationality and decorum.

And the step after that is to have planned for major change due to the consultation, and have the time and resources allocated to evaluate feedback, collate change, and make the improvements. ITIL V3 and 2011 didn't.

There seems to be this idea that wonderful bodies of knowledge will arise spontaneously from the masses. The internet is new but it has been around long enough to prove that they generally don't. Wikipedia is a special case, because it is The One, it has the mindshare. Its contributor pool is immense: the whole human race.

Even then, Wikipedia's ITSM information is crap. If we need new bodies of ITSM knowledge (which I dispute) why not devote all this passion and energy to simply improving the Wikipedia entries? And why hasn't that already spontaneously happened? Why isn't Wikipedia already a "better ITIL"?

There has been an outbreak of starry-eyed nonsense in the ITSM world, of emotive New Age pronouncements lacking in rational thought or evidence. As a skeptic, I'll be focused on calling it out in 2014.

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