Merry Christmas, ITIL works!

During two ITSM consulting engagements recently, I was reminded of a fundamental fact about ITIL – it works.

We stridently criticise ITIL – few more than me – because we want it to be better, and there is room for that, but we would not waste the breath and effort if it was not worth it. ITIL works. It is a useful tool.

Of course ITIL is not everything. In one of my recent engagements the key concept that led to a simple and elegant solution was nothing to do with ITIL – it was when my friend Harvey drew the distinction between contracting (body per hour) and service providing. The solution involved a little of both and they were muddied up together.

But all the thinking on that engagement was hopelessly muddy when we got involved. As we straightened it out and sorted it out, I became aware at one point of how much I was using the ITIL concepts as a reference framework, to give clear structure, to realize what was missing, to spot when things were not going to work, and of course to use an industry standardised language.

I’m sure there are better tools around. There are much better languages than English: easier to learn, to teach, to spell. But it is a little late to suggest to the world that we change: Esperanto proved that. So it is with ITIL... for now.

So, as in past years, I take this time to thank all those who gave us ITIL, and all those who continue to work to bring us the ITIL movement: OGC, TSO, APMG, itSMF, all the vendors of software and training and consulting and books. And thank-you to all the practitioners who give ITSM life, and all the thinkers who debate on this blog. Especially thank-you to all those who have felt a sting from my blog and perhaps wondered why you bother - thank-you for what you do for the rest of us.

ITIL works. Merry Christmas.


New Year Resolution.... A Renewed Focus on Service Management?


I would like to contribute to the Xmas spirit here by adding my support that ITIL works - to an extent. For too long I feel that vendors, instructors and consultants alike may have occasionally misrepresented, miss-hoped, or whatever the word might be, the true intent and scope of ITIL. It does provide a sound framework for discussing many of the basic elements of a service management system. It works as designed. It does not offer, nor provide a sole source for a solution.

Somehow, the industry seems to have allowed itself to believe that ITIL and ITSM are one and the same, and other contributions (in the past) have all too easily been positioned by some folks central to the ITIL push as 'competitive'. ITIL is at the core of the ITSM market and deserves to be so. However, there is still a lack of consensus over the elements of a successful service management system and supporting organization.

Service management should be applicable to all types of service industry organizations, of all sizes, from the one person IT department found within small credit unions, healthcare, and local government, to the Fortune 100s. Its a way of thinking about how information technology and the information services it enables and supports are used by its customers. It helps begin the transformation of an organization from one managing infrastructure to one managing that, and the results it helps customers achieve.

I for one am hoping that amongst resolutions our industry is developing for 2010 are more openness in the definition of service management and its purpose, and an embracing of any ideas, concepts and yes frameworks that help fellow professionals and the organizations they represent and help, succeed. Its time to focus on how the core principles of service management (once defined) can be applied to the challenges of IT.

Essentially contested concepts

Resolution, reconciliation, alignment - they may be possible - but those seeking them would be advised to review the immortal paper W.B Gallie wrote on Essentially Contested Concepts. Required reading for all political science majors.

And yes, merry Christmas to all. Without ITIL I probably would not have met any of you.

Charles T. Betz

gave up

I gave up on that Wikipedia entry when I got to
scepticism (“All answers are equally true (or false); everyone has a right to his own truth”),
which is unmitigated rubbish, using either the historical or the contemporary definition

Sorry about that

I would have pointed you to the original Gallie, but it is not online.

The quote you object to is poor - but not from Gallie; it's an interpretive quote from someone named Garver. I don't blame you for finding it off-putting. It's a strange one. But you can glean the basics of the Galliean thesis from the article and I am not finding much else freely available.

Point being that we are wrestling with many contested concepts. This is nothing new, but many of the disputants do not seem to realize that this is inherently slippery terrain. We need a firmer lexical/ontological foundation to reason effectively about ITSM, and we may well find that some terms elude consensus.

And now I am moving from Christmas cheer into New Year's resolution.

Charles T. Betz

Execution is the key

It is always worth reminding ourselves that actions speak louder than words. A good New Year's resolution for the majority of people in our profession is to focus on execution. Yes ITIL and ISO/IEC 20000 aren't perfect, neither are the tools we use, but that isn't an excuse for not doing things better than they are currently being done.

Don't get me wrong, I'm in total agreement that the words are important, perhaps especially so as you transition through the "conscious incompetence" stage but what matters is doing things differently, doing things better and doing things that matter.


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