ITIL Still Needs to Embrace the Collective

In my recent article on ITSMWatch, I hammer once again on the great doors of Castle ITIL, right next to the faint marks from when I did so last time. ITIL needs to open up to the huge community it has created.

The premise is that ITIL reflects the culture of its creators. The negative connotation is that it is limited and biased by that. Thus ITIL is not necessarily representative of the best-in-world thinking or, necessarily the best approach in other cultures than the one it sprang from. It is best only within the culture and politics of the group that created it...
Anyone looking ... from a post-modernist viewpoint can see clearly that ITIL is heavily derived from the culture of corporate North America and Britain, and from existing vendors of ITSM training and services. It seems odd to accuse a U.K. government body of representing western corporate business (or more precisely providers to corporate business), but it is so. As the OGC says, the authors are “service suppliers, training companies and academia in Britain, Canada and the USA"―no government, no local government, no non-profits, no health or engineering, no small or medium enterprise.

Aidan Lawes wrote a great post agreeing with the article which was nice. I think it is the first time ever that Aidan has mentioned my work :)

The vendor community (by which I mean any organisation whose business is selling service management products and services – consulting, training, and outsourcing in all guises) is dominating the debate and developments. This is a theme that Rob also addresses in his article, albeit from a different perspective. He bemoans the lack of openness in OGC’s whole approach to the evolution of ITIL and the limited geographic/cultural influences on the developments as well as the concentration of authors from the vendor community. I feel that this is even more the case in the qualification scheme where, as I’ve said before, the focus is ITIL-centric and commercially driven, rather than candidate-centric and educationally driven.

Aidan goes on to say

it is relatively easy for individuals or small groups to start initiatives and promote them via websites and various internet forums. Barriers to new entrants are far lower than they might have been in the past and many organisations will increasingly need to refine their “business models” and value propositions.
Don’t agree with the definition of some aspect of service management as articulated in any of the SOURCES? – simply write your own and promote it. Don’t like the way a particular “club” is run? – start your own; you can make the rules. Can’t drive the existing professional bodies, societies or associations in the way you feel they should go? – start your own; as President your vote really counts.

...which I don't quite agree with - it's not that easy. From observation of all the failed attempts to do these things (including personal experience), I'd say it is easy to float something but hard to thrive. You need massive marketing, international reach, and the luck to be the right idea at the right time. Contrary to popular opinion, new ideas struggle against established ones on the Web. If you don't come up on the first page of a Google search, you are disadvantaged already. You might get picked up as a meme and sweep to the top, but for every Twitter there are a hundred thousand wanna-bes. ITIL knows it is a long slog to the top. That's why my money is on the established brand, web traffic, and infrastructure of COBIT.

Or ITIL. If OGC would pull their heads out and look around they have an enormous potential they could harness. But they don't. They don't even tell us who is writing the ITIL Refresh Refresh, or how they are being selected. When they do offer writing jobs, they give the public three days to apply. Collaboration with existing bodies of knowledge is almost non-existent. Review cycles are rubber stamp exercises instead of genuine attempts to build content and embrace diversity. They surrender certification schemes (people and products) to the vendors. They surrender their web presence to the vendors, who have torn it into three or more pieces.

More than anything else, this is why ITIL is probably doomed.


Not sure...

I have delivered ITIL training and consulting in several organizations in Latin America, and I don't see big incompatibilities between ITIL and what is advisable in these organizations.

It makes sense that some ITIL "good practices" come from US or UK experiences, but it doesn't mean they are not applicable in other latitudes.

ITIL is not a recipe, and IT managers most still do their part in understanding their organization culture and what cultural change implies, before implementing improvement initiatives into their IT Service Management practices. Sometimes, IT managers attempt to "implement ITIL" without considering this, and they will miserably fail. The same happens when implementing or changing processes in other business areas (not only IT). But it's easier to blame ITIL or to claim that it was not applicable in local culture than blaming the lack of soft skills and seniority of the IT management team, needed to successfully implement such improvement initiatives.

But please notice that I'm talking about ITIL best practices, not the certification scheme. This is a whole different story...

Syndicate content