itSMF behaviour beyond the pale

I'm all for a little infighting in itSMF: it keeps everyone on their toes and it keeps this blog entertained. But now somebody has gone way beyond the pale with behaviour that is utterly unacceptable in any civilised business community. In fact it is probably legally actionable. I call on ITSM community members to deal with it. This is a long post, but if you are involved in itSMF, please read it. We have a nasty problem in our midst.

The IT Skeptic has subjected itSMF International bylaws and governance to close examination in the past. And perhaps there are some issues that are worthy of close examination: certainly there are a couple of ambiguities in the itSMFI by-laws that have caused a few folk to take differing views on who and how the International Executive Board should be populated. More of that later.

But the IT Skeptic isn't suggesting disbanding itSMF. I'm not a fan of throwing out the baby with the bathwater - I'd like to see itSMF improved. So I didn't take the petition to have itSMF disbanded seriously, especially as it only got a few votes. Those people have missed the point that it is easier to leave an organisation than to disband it.

Now the petitioner has popped up again, with multiple email blasts to the itSMF world, with stuff like:

shameless people assume others are shameful to face their shamelessness and you are invited to break this assumption by taking action.
The petition will not be created online again as the mission is accomplished by delivering the message to the concerned community. The community is expected to take stance to stop these actions at itsmf. It is not for the community favor to ignore such practices and prefer the safe side. As early signs of the collapse towards which itsmf is heading you can investigate the following 2 points :
1- Why the current board consists of 6 members only not 7? Where is the seventh? (while this is illegal because the number of the board members should be odd number)
2- Read the fantastic comunique your new crafted chair posted at the website to see how lacking vision the leader is (it was courageous/skecthy to post such a communique!)
[Skep: Incidentally the new Board communique referred to is here. I think it shows pretty good vision: as always I look forward to seeing the execution.]
This message is being sent to hundreds of the community professionals for your attention and action. There is a gang of abusers who are steering the organization for their personal benefits and fooling you with flat de defacto communications.

I was going to ignore this too, as a continuation of the peculiar and childish behaviour exhibited in the original petition. However I did contact our "new crafted chair", Marianna Billington, because being a fellow Kiwi I do of course know her. I contacted her because the email mentioned that the petition has since been taken down. Marianna stated categorically that the itSMFI did not initiate that. Whoever you were who asked for it to be taken down, I think you did more harm than good. But THAT's not the point of this blog either.

When talking to Marianna, I was horrified to learn that, four hours before the latest petition-related email, someone - either the same person or someone who writes in a similar manner - had emailed Marianna's new employer (using an email anonymiser). This is what they said:

e[sic] want to warn you of the hire you made for Marianna Billington
leading your ITSM consulting business in NZ. You probably made this
decision based on recommendation from her friend, the HP\\\\\\\'s
pervert, David Cannon, who has also caused a big trouble in itSMF by
illegally pushing her through the board. He wanted you to hire her to
try to prove to the itSMF community she is worthy. You are risking
your business and your customers to her reputation. She is in illegal
position as chair of itSMF

Now I don't care who you are or what your beef is with itSMF or how much substance it has, that kind of behaviour is unacceptable in any business community. More than that, I believe it has crossed well over the line into being potentially legally actionable.

This is a volunteer community. We need to address our issues constructively (No that's not hypocritical. I believe I push the boundaries of "constructive" on this blog, yes, but I like to think it is always clear that I have the best interests of the ITSM community at heart and I avoid deliberately destructive acts). It is bad enough to have this shithead firing off hysterical emails to everyone (which in my opinion don't have a sound basis - as I said, more of that later). We can cope with that. But trying to undermine somebody's personal career shows a moral and ethical failure that beggars belief. I call on the ITSM community to show that this latest act is completely unacceptable. If you have any idea who is behind this slander, please tell them what you think. And since they are slinking around behind a cowardly wall of anonymity, feel free to out them. I'm happy to do that on this blog with sufficient evidence.

Speaking of evidence, I wonder if it is relevant that Rania Al-Maghraby, President and Founder of itSMF Egypt, sent an email back in 2011 to a wide itSMF email list that said, in part:

Since I still find many things are not acceptable, and since I believe that the IEB is somehow hijacked, I have already started the process of hiring a lawyer in UK to settle for me the issues I have with this organization, and he will be approaching itSMF office in UK in few days. I think I have all the necessary reasons to do so because I have tried to resolve these issues internally first.
Chapter Levies:
Needless to say, I don't see that we should pay the requested levies that are intended to be used to support the IEB operations, although we are receiving invoices for that purpose the current days.
Meanwhile, and until the issues we have regarding the IEB are resolved, I'm hereby stalling our participation in any itSMF activities or initiatives, because we don't feel that we are respected member in this organization as we should be.

Presumably "we" means itSMF Egypt. I hope its members are aware that their Chair has taken this action to sue itSMFI.

This followed an earlier and longer email to the same wide audience, from which I quote:

[Complaints about governance of IEB elections, which i will address separately]
... there is a huge amount of incompliance with what's claimed to be the governing rules of this organization. The way board appointments are managed makes it more like a club than like an international organization. ...don't you think that the amount of 'dirty laundry' in itSMFI are beyond the bearable capacity? Sometimes I visualize a group of kindergarten kids playing around their small colored chairs, and improvising play scenarios ... you sit here and you sit there, you come play with us, and you we don't like you don't play with us ... in some way a similar mentality is applied here in that puzzle IEB !
...I would like to clarify my point of view that I actually don't hold any degree of respect to itSMF as a claimed international organization, and I do believe that the IEB is just a big trouble to everybody in it, otherwise we wouldn't find people stepping down one by one like that. I recognize my position as 'a shareholder in this company', I would have hired a lawyer in UK to file a case for me against itSMF International limited company to get responsible authority looking into how things are managed in that NPO. However, doing so wouldn't serve my mission in my local organization in any way, and that's the most important thing to focus on for me, whether we belong to itSMF or not.

...and later

After finalizing the list of new appointed board members, and few weeks later, Sharon stepped down, and the action taken to replace her was to hold a new elections despite the tightness of time available...
This year, exactly the same situation happened. After election is finished and the new members have been announced, Michael stepped down. This time a different action has been taken to fill the vacancy, and that was promoting the next highest voted person in the last election held, that's instead of holding a new election like what happened last year.
If I told you that I was the next highest voted person in the last election held last year, and if the same reasoning applied this year was applied last year then I should have been on board to replace Sharon, then you should get my point. According to rules the second election last year was valid, but I hope I have not been bypassed intentionally due to the different reasoning applied this year.

I infer from this that Rania considers Marianna to be occupying Rania's rightful position on the Board... or someone else, I'm still unravelling it. I will address those issues separately when I have more information.

To be clear: I'm not saying that Rania slandered Marianna, but the common tone and concepts suggest that she may well be in communication with the person who did. If she is in contact with that person, I call on Rania to do what she can to put a stop to this before somebody ends up in court and I don't mean itSMF. And as I said above, I call on everyone else in the ITSM community to do what you can to end it too. We shouldn't stand for such despicable personal attacks which damage our community and profession.


Mental health

I'm now concerned for the mental health of our phantom emailer. They are becoming vague, incoherent and rambling. Please if there is somebody who knows who this person is: you need to take steps - they need to seek professional help as they seem to be descending into paranoia. This is not a joke, not my usual facetiousness. Seriously, they seem to have lost touch with reality. If you work with this person, please reach out to them.

itSMF International

I've had opportunities to work with International over several years and know many of the board members and international delegates personally. Overall, they are a hard working group of volunteers who want to give back to the ITSM community. This is not the first time personal and unprofessional behavior have put a stain on the organization or the board who really do want to continue to provide value, even if they struggle with how to achieve that with the limited time available when being a volunteer in service to the community.

I just want to urge all of our international delegates to stop when they are upset about something, and begin to ask the question "what will a public display of my upset cost the organization and it this really the best way to address my concern?" I'd have to argue that it likely isn't - learn to address your upset with the person who has upset you people! Oh, and just keep doing all the great work you've been doing, even if you don't always feel like you're getting a result. Great progress and success sometimes take time.

Thanks Skeptic for trying to direct activities in a more positive direction.

a huge world-wide community

Actually I don't agree. Keeping quiet is what caused the problems in the first place. All possible information should be in the public domain. All decision making should be explained. And public debate is healthy. Unhealthy public debate is unhealthy. itSMF isn't a private club behind closed doors: it is a huge world-wide community that needs to be involved and heard.

It gets worse

I won't burden you with the latest spouting of bile from this person, but the email ends with

the puppet may only have been subjected to abuse by the pervert or may be sharing with him some other hidden agendas

It is almost amusing that it opens with

We do believe that many of the recipients of these messages feel disgust of the contents they include. We do feel the same disgusting feeling. But we believe the source of disgust is not the messages themselves, rather it is what the messages reveal. What is included here is bad to be done, not to be said.

No, Anonymous Creep, it is you we find disgusting. Please go away.


In the ITSM community we have had only one big issue for the last few is not the sharing of practices, nor the optimization of has been the "people" aspect, or as we nowadays call it, ABC. All communities, including itSMF, should set a global example of how to address this people factor in our daily business.

Unfortunately this form of outrageous and personal slander is not exactly setting a great example for all of our members and everyone in the IT(SM) community. It shows a hoorible attitude, unacceptable behavior and illustrates a complete lack of cultural sensitivity.

We are talking about volunteers here, who spend an important part of their life for the sake of community members. I consider it repulsive to attack anyone (in this case Marianna) in such an unprofessional manner.


I seriously wonder how organizations like itSMF, HDI, ISACA, SDI and insert {"membership" organization here} can possibly navigate in the worlds of the coming years. People question value, people considering if "events" are worth attending, when they are already saturated with information. It's been interesting to watch the #Back2ITSM community on facebook evolve so quickly.

Tonight I finally took a few minutes to watch the kony 2012 video

I can't separate the striking similarities between the kony video and the bat shit crazy I am starting to see with "hyper" connected folks.

I know, I know, I read the blog, we have always been connected.

I just am starting to be more scared of the "wisdom" of the current crowd than the grip of the old guard.


"I just am starting to be

"I just am starting to be more scared of the "wisdom" of the current crowd than the grip of the old guard."

Hah! That doesn't bode well.


i dunno where this ends

That kony2012 stuff is a fine cause but I can't help feeling like I've been inappropriately fondled after I've watched it. Stop f***ing with my head already, however good the cause. there's ernest then there's off the dial ernest. I understand the world is so jaded you feel you gotta do this to get any action. that may be true but there are a thousand good causes out there and I'm not sure how many kony2012 videos i can watch in a year. then we'll get used to that style and they'll have to crank the intensity up another gear... the other scary aspect is that it seems teenagers are fine with this. they're immune and their culture is gonna overwhelm us old farts.

In this itSMF case here it is alarming how much one fruit-loop can do using email, let alone other social media tools. i know the pressures and stresses the itSMF leadership have been under in recent years and my blog here is only one small part of that, the visible tip of the iceberg. When you empower everyone, the forces you put into play can become uncontrollable and ungovernable. Especially in a hard-bitten, grass-roots, effect-change kind of culture like ITSM. Spooky.

'starting to be more scared of the "wisdom" of the current crowd than the grip of the old guard" is doubly spooky coming from ServiceSphere. Gives me chills.

i dunno where this ends. I'm hanging on to the tiger. i just hope the kids are evolving a culture to manage all this.

I guess you meant I'm doing a kony2012 of my own here - i'm assimilating the new intensity already

Don't worry too much..

Don't worry too much Rob - the fact that you describe the person as a 'fruit-loop' and only one real person signed the obnoxious and cowardly survey shows you how much influence such malice can have - not very much..

Incidentally, the survey site was happy to remove the survey after I pointed out its cowardly anonymity and the fact that only one real human being had (apparently - that might have been forged) bothered to sign it since last November.

The courts, and police, are also, now, taking an interest in libellous statements made electronically, whether through e-mail, web-sites or twitter.

I'm a very strong supporter of free speech - and I don't agree that things are uncontrolled or ungovernable if everybody is empowered - properly!

It's still wrong to shout 'fire' in a crowded cinema though.

Infighting at itSMF - What's new?

I don't believe that the person who wrote the text you've posted here can possibly know what he or she is doing, let alone what Marianna and the rest of the itSMFI body is doing - it's absolutely unbelievable and completely unfounded and bigoted rhetoric. I know from first hand experience that Marianna and before her David Cannon, Sharon Taylor etc have all tried their absolute best and in often very difficult circumstances, to deliver fairness and probity into the operation of itSMFI and frankly, they have all done a bloody good job. itSMFI has moved a long way from the bad old days and is most definitely more accountable to the general movement. They have by and large been supported by most in the movement and hindered by one or two egotists who ought to know better. The text which you print here is presumably from someone who ought to know better but doesn't and I would suggest you isolate that person and disengage with him/her.

I don't think you can infer that it is Rania who is the person who wrote this crud without evidence, no more than the author, can say that Marianna is illegally the Chair. So please be careful, lest you be accused of inflaming the matter. Unless of course, you do have the evidence, in which case let it go to itSMFI's solicitors.

I know that it is not your intention to inflame that matter, merely redress the imbalance created by these unfair and untrue statements about Marianna, and your personal knowledge of both Marianna's professional approach to business. However, the truth as to what's what, can be found is between the author him/herself and the itSMFI's solicitors so my advice would be to pass everything you have onto the Company Secretary and get him to use the company's solicitors to deal with it. A public forum is not really the place, and besides, I for one, want to continue reading the informative and entertaining stuff you post about ITSM, not stuff about personal infighting.

At no point did I infer that

At no point did I "infer that it is Rania who is the person who wrote this" and I'll thank you to cease and desist from saying I have. I merely said that the pattern of language tone and content suggested a high probability that she may be in some way connected with that person and i asked her to do what she can to stop it.

Sadly, the use of anonymity means we can't know for sure who wrote it, which makes passing this information to the Company Secretary pointless. besides he has all this and has had for a long time. The itSMF policy seems to have been to treat this with the contempt it deserves and i doubt that will change.

So the only course of action is to let the community know what is going on, and has been going on for some time, and let the community express its views and hopefully shame this idiot into stopping before they damage people's personal lives.

Unintended consequences

I doubt that anyone that is sane would not consider this behaviour condemnable. And I do understand and share the feeling of outrage about it. (Plus I admire your commitment to stand by your (our) morals!)

But at the same time skep - are you considering unintended consequences of picking this topic up in a (in our community) widely known and respected forum which your blog has become? After all, this is just one idiot - no matter how outrageous it is that he/she has done, it is still a single person. But by giving the topic publicity, you are in fact getting his/her message through to many more people than likely he/she can. And again I do understand that is not your intention and the context of the incriminating quote is very much the opposite of his/her message: yet some people may pick up his/her poisonuous thoughts which might not have happened without the publicity given to it.

Just a thought.

hushing this up is more destructive than confronting it

i intend to examine the allegations in a separate post. I'm all for transparency: there may well be improvements that can be made as a result of looking into this. I've made it clear in the past that there is room for improvement in itSMF governance.

And I feel the only way to put a stop it is to mobilise the community to find the culprit: somebody out there knows.

i think hushing this up is more destructive than confronting it, especially when people's personal lives are attacked. We are a volunteer organisation dealing with IT process stuff, FFS. There's no place for that sort of thing. Someone needs to get a grip.

I couldn't agree more with skep

Bullying thrives in a culture of silence and intimidation.

This is disgraceful behaviour and it needs to be tackled at senior levels. The ITsmf are moving away from the idea of filling dead men's shoes simply because you've been there the longest. People should achieve senior positions based on merit, nothing else.

I think Rob has merely

I think Rob has merely pointed put the similarities in style. I am sure Rania is as outraged as the rest of us - and more so that whoever has done this has modeled their communications on the style of her previous web postings. I hope she will post something distancing herself from all this - as Rob says we need to 'mobilise the community' to establish where this did originate.

Infer/Imply... Let's call the whole thing off...!

Unless you are sure about your facts, you ought not to bring other people's names into the statement. I would assert you have implied that Rania is guilty, through association and people will infer from what you have said, what they want and will act or otherwise as they see fit. Rania might take the same view.

If you have evidence, you ought to publish it or hand it over to solicitors for them to sort it out or if you don't, then you ought to disassociate or retract the her name as implicated her by association. Or you should at the very least clarify your position properly.

Don't be a smart-Alec and try to hide behind the language and style you use, it's not good journalism. Although, I suspect it could be good enough for News International! The law is the only way to enforce a cessation of such nonsense.

Other than that, I like your pages but I don't like the sloppiness...

Is 'sensibleman' honest about his sex?

I, for one, had not had any idea that Rania might be the person - there didn't seem to be any implication at all. Where do you get that idea?

Unless you, yourself, are Rania, I think that you've issued a libellous remark yourself.

engage brain

of course Sensibleman isn't Rania, you berk. Compare the two styles: one is obviously somebody with English as a second language, and angry-aggressive; the other sounds British and is quite calm and urbane. This is a heated and delicate issue; please everyone engage brain before commenting. And refrain from further attacking Rania: she's got enough to deal with here.


Whát?!? Without suggesting it's not okay to address issues in the governance of itSMF International, this is just absolutely unacceptable and shameful. I've not been involved in itSMF International for some time now, but outrageous acquisitions like this motivate me to step up and express my sympathy for Marianna and the other volunteers that invest their time and energy to build and support the global ITSM community.

It is okay to have disagreements and discussions, and it is true political games sometimes occur at itSMF (not suggesting appointing Marianna is a political move; I haven't got a clue), but the personal attack is absolutely unacceptable (especially this cowardly anonymous personal attack), always has been and always will be. And I think the community needs to eliminate/condemn the source of this personal attack as has been done a few times in the past, whatever the source appears to be.

Arjen N. Droog
Former representative of itSMF NL @ itSMF International
Former board member and former CEO of itSMF NL

This is really awful

When this was posted as a survey I thought it was thoroughly unprofessional, but I took some comfort from the fact that it hardly had any signatures.

When the SPAM emails started arriving a couple of days ago I thought they were really embarrassing. The person sending them was clearly a very poor communicator who had a personal problem and did not know how to deal with it.

The personal attacks via email to Marianna's employer are totally unacceptable. I do hope that she can identify who sent this so she can take appropriate legal action.

Talk about relationship issues

I'm only a new member to the itSMF and can already see many members expressing a concern for lack of value, (though it's been fantastic for me, so far). My suggestion is this: pony up with some ideas on adding value or relinquish your membership. It's not a hard scenario to compute. I already have some ideas on adding value and will be talking to my NSW chair next week at the seminar.

As for the way this person is handling the problem: You're doing it wrong. It lacks vision and basic decorum. No wonder IT gets accused of having relationship issues. Calling someone a pervert and emailing an employer, who has nothing to do with any of this itSMF stuff, mind you, is absolutely grounds for legal action against YOU. It's so many shades of undignified and wrong. If you are on an itSMF committee, it's even more inexcusable because you have easy access to create change. Pick your dignity up off the floor and have some calm discussions with your Board of Management. Work out what the problems really are and approach itSMFi in a human manner. NO one deserves this kind of treatment, but the itSMF is a dedicated group of volunteers. Get a grip.

Yours in all seriousness,
Aprill Allen

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