Sharon Taylor's five common myths about ITIL Version 3

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At the US Pink Elephant conference, Sharon Taylor, the Chief Architect and Chief Examiner of ITIL, listed five common myths about ITIL V3. I thought I'd make it clear that none of them came from this blog.

I may be bombastic at times but I'm careful that the facts are right and I'm willing to correct when they are not. So I was a bit worried that any of the myths might be pinned on my door. But as she went through them I was relieved to cross them off.

Let's look at them from this blog's perspective:

1) I have to recertify everyone

We know that isn't true. All agencies involved have bent over backwards to get the word out that V2 certifications will continue to be "recognised". What is just now emerging is that they won't be recognised as prerequisites for further V3 qualifications without an "upgrade" course first.

You won't need to re-certify everyone, but once you get around to upgrading to V3, everyone is going to need some upgrade training obviously. This is especially so for those who want to go on to further qualifications but everyone who needed training when you adopted V2 ITIL will likely need upgrade training when you adopt V3. I'm not complaining: this isn't a scam - it is just common sense.

So needing to recertify everyone is a myth. Upgrading everyone is a high probability. People are talking about upgrade training being just one day. We shall see. The training vendors must be salivating.

2) All the processes I know will be gone

Also not true. All ten processes and one function from V2 will be there in V3. So too will be a number of new process and functions: at least 13 by my count. These are Demand Management, Service Portfolio Management, Strategy Generation, Seven Step Improvement Process, Service Catalogue Management, Information Security Management, Supplier Management, Knowledge Management, Transition Planning, Evaluation and Early Life Support, Event Management, Request Fulfilment, Access Management, Common Service Operation Activities. My information is imperfect so I may have missed some or got some wrong.

So all the processes you know will be there. You just won't know all the processes.

3) I have to buy new tools

You never have to buy any tools. But they help. Not only has ITIL expanded into new processes, but it has also expanded in another dimension: along the service lifecycle. Think of it as not only has functionality got longer but it has got wider too.

If you are lucky enough to have picked a vendor who will include all this new functionality as an upgrade and you are current on maintenance, then you will only need to go to the expense of rolling out a new version when you adopt V3.

Having worked for an ITSM vendor, I'm betting that (a) some of the new functionality will be extra cost options and (b) parts of it will go outside the comfort zone of some vendors and they just won't cover it - think Service Strategy.

So nobody needs new tools but there is a fair chance you'll be paying for options or additional tools.

4) Processes I use won’t work in a service lifecycle

Of course they will. The lifecycle extension of ITIL is orthogonal to process - it is a new dimension. Existing processes fit into the lifecycle just as any new processes do.

But your lifecycle processes may need change: how you do what the service lifecycle does. Just as V2 changed the way you do service management, V3 will change the way you do service lifecycle.

5) V3 is an addon to V2

No it's not: as Sharon says it is a replacement. Saying it is an add-on is like saying a Chev Corvette is an add-on to an LS1 V8 motor, or Windows is an add-on to MS-DOS. Sure V2 is still in there somewhere but not so as you'd notice.

So I'm happy to say that this blog does not endorse or spread those five myths (or any others I hope).



For me this is just all becoming very dull, very negative and very sad.

The total lack of energy and presence, the total lack and inability to light a fire under this stuff is frankly depressing.

The implementation of V3 into the hearts and minds of those commited to improving the customers lot is at best poor.

I care not a fig for myths or legends (ITIL's real or imagined group of self congratulatory YODA's) I care about the effect on people, users, customers the perception of IT as a whole, on innovation and insight.

STOP the whinging its here, deal with it, warts and all, it may well be less than ideal, however, I for one will not wait for V4 the practical version?


Dear ITSkeptic,

You are correct. I was at the Pink Elephant event and have been at other "authorised" V3 sessions and the "myths" are one of the slides that are used to mitigate the mis-communications about V3. In my opinion, in retrospect, the OGC could have done a better job of communicating during the process...

1-Day ITIL V2 to V3 Bridge - Another MYTH!

Evidently the five V3 books have about 2000 pages between them - given that some are repeated (common intro and glossary) that still leaves about double what is in the core of V2. Add to that a completely new set of subject matter (Strategy and CSIP) and this makes some comments about "1 day bridge and 20 question quiz" laughable. It also make the stated V3 Foundation exam spec of 40 questions extremely unlikely to test the full content as required by BLOOMS TAXONOMY.

When this all shakes out I hope their is some accountability for what might happen....

Yes, it is hard to imagine

Yes, it is hard to imagine how more than a dozen new processes and functions, and the entirely new dimension/concept of lifecycle, can be covered in a day.

Likewsie it is easy to imagine how long a Manager's upgrade course could be.

Reading tea leaves here....

Reading tea leaves here.... practitioner - replaced by a credential per book - anyone out there want to be labeled a Service Strategist? Only book that maps to existing clustered set - Service Transition (Change, Config, release).

V3 Manager - given to those who manage to fork out $600 for all five books and sit 5 classes at $2,000 each - thats worth something. Today's Manager - gone - except noone will actually admit it until all those who sat recently are retired.

Replacement Manager - a secrect society to be formulated credential that will have a golden key into the inner sanctum of the itSMF....

We already have service strategists

We already have service strategists. They are called capability leads, senior IT architects and IT program managers. Their track record may be a bit spotty, but they are the ones who have been in the trenches actually doing this. Not the operations oriented folks typically attracted to ITIL. I really don't see these folks shelling out for the v3 training to be accredited "Service Strategists" when ITIL has no basis or credibility in this area.

I do not consider the existence of ITIL v2 books other than the Service Support and Service Delivery volumes to be relevant, e.g. Business Perspective and Application Management. Where were the training courses? When were they seriously addressed in conference sessions? People interested in the front end of the IT service lifecycle have been participating in various Gartner events, EAC, CIO Magazine and Executive Board stuff, the dedicated IT Financial Management conferences (two different, big ones) doing their PMI certs, or perhaps pursuing one of the emerging architecture certifications. They certainly didn't look to ITIL v2.

Given this history, ITIL v3 will have a long row to hoe in demonstrating much relevance in the front end of the IT demand cycle or truly driving "business/IT alignment."

In particular, as Jeanne Ross argues and many agree, such alignment requires architecture -- rigorous business modeling with systems traceability. ITIL just doesn't have the systems architecture view necessary to claim relevance to IT service strategy. And by systems architecture I do not mean project-level technical architecture, but the higher level, strategic concerns of enterprise architecture.

I do agree with another poster that we almost certainly will see a consolidation and rebranding of IT portfolio management tools to align with ITSM tools - at least at a marketing level. The practical difficulties in true integration are significant - different stakeholders, workflows, process timeframes, and so forth.

Charles T. Betz

Beg to differ

You take a primitive view of both “service” and “strategy.”

Enterprise architects, as your Jeanne Ross espouses, are focused on operating models. By building a clear operating model, an architect defines the roles of business process standardization and integration in the company’s daily decisions and tasks.

An IT operating model lays out how IT will accomplish its purpose. This is a manufacturing mindset, as Drucker coined it, and, as Drucker pointed out, a poor way to think about services.

Strategic thinking may involve a good operating model. But neither is an operating model strategy nor enterprise architects strategists.

Now if you had said the CIO, VP of outsourcing or product managers…

You also engage in a Platonic Fallacy. ITILv2 didn't attract capability leads, EAs and Program managers. So what?

The fact that a promising politician may have never set foot in Washington, London or Baghdad doesn't take away the credibility of the ideas. In fact, we may genuinely need new and better ones (politicians and "service strategists"). As you said, the track record is very spotty.

Let the v3 ideas speak for themselves.


Can you tell me where I might find a clear delineation of the boundaries between "strategy" and "operating model"? Especially in this day and age when capabilities like IT are supposed to contribute to strategy, through understanding the improvements that are possible in the operating model?

Assisting in the development of business strategy is not unheard of for architects. Modeling concepts such as strategy/mission/goal/objective/capability is part of many EA methodologies. And "Services Strategy" is not business strategy. It is the strategy of how the business structures, sources, and consumes IT services. I cannot see how this is at some higher, more "strategic" level than enterprise architecture as practiced by leading organizations.

It's true that achitecture is in most cases unconcerned with sourcing questions. But sourcing questions are subsidiary to the initial definition of what IT services you need.

My fundamental doubt is how, after years of primary relevance to operations and infrastructure engineering staffs, ITIL is now going to leapfrog the functional applications, operating model, and business architecture concerns and immediately take on comprehensive CIO-level relevance. I'll take a spotty track record over no track record.

This question will not be resolved in three weeks. If in three years there is widespread acceptance of all of ITIL v3, as evidenced by well attended training courses and widespread pursuit of all the certifications... if CIOs are sending their chiefs of staff, directors of application management, IT finance, and chief enterprise architects for ITIL training... if we are seeing significant representation of IT leaders from all stages of the Services Lifecycle at ITSMF - then I will be impressed.

Charles T. Betz

P.S. What is a Product Manager in the IT sense and how might they differ from a Capability Manager or a Service Manager? Or an Application Manager?

Strategy 101

Charles - This is basic stuff.

An operating model’s great strength is that it focuses attention on how all the elements of the enterprise come together in a working whole. Every sound organization is built on a sound operating model. But an operating model is not the same thing as strategy.

Operating models describe, as a system, how the pieces come together, but they don’t factor one critical dimension: competition. Dealing with that reality is strategy’s job. When you carve away all the buzzwords and jargon, that is what strategy is all about.

It is simple logic. When all enterprises offer the same services to the same customers by performing the same activities, no one prospers. Customers benefit in the short-term, but competition will drive down pricing to where returns are inadequate. Strategists like Michael Porter called this destructive competition. There was plenty of destructive competition with Internet retailers: Too many enterprises with identical operating models and no strategies to differentiate themselves.

When these two terms are used interchangeably, they are stretched to mean everything and wind up meaning nothing. Drawing sharp boundaries between the two may involve arbitrary choices, but failure to do so will not only result in confusion, it will harm enterprise performance.

Walmart and Kmart have identical operating models. Walmart has a strategy.

Now you may say this doesn't apply to IT. Horse$hit. It applies more than ever.

All this is well established. I could rattle off the case examples and the usual luminaries, but if you really want to understand just go back to Drucker. He said it best.

Also, your definition of "service strategy" is wrong. Truly. Interestingly enough, the definition you provide again reflects what Drucker called the "manufacturing mindset." You've really got to work on these 1970s mental models. It will continue to stunt your understanding of services. Otherwise, you'd realize there is as much difference between Product and Application managers as there is between Walmart and Kmart.


The more people say that my mental models are outdated and I just need to "get with the times" the more I am reminded of a certain Hans Christian Andersen story about an emperor practicing delusional nudity. I also check my wallet.

If you expand "competition" to more generally cover "motivation" then I can accept that this is a primary differentiator between the domains of strategy and operations.

However, are you then saying that IT is strategic? In all cases? In only some? And before I can accept any assertions that this is somehow "basic," I need to point out Nicholas Carr's "IT Doesn't Matter" thesis. I don't think these questions are at all basic or well settled as you imply; I think they are the subject of very active debate.

Please, do help me understand how my definition of "service strategy" is wrong, in the context of ITIL v3 (which I think is what we are talking about - yes, of course there is a broader services context, e.g. Are you saying that ITIL v3 has left behind the supporting activity of IT service delivery in the context of the large enterprise entirely, and is now focused entirely on how to deliver end customer services as part of a primary business strategy? If that is the scope of the Services Strategy volume (competing with Heskett), then ITIL v3 has indeed wandered far afield, and many will be perplexed.

As a supporting activity, I fail to see how IT in the context of a large organization has or is a "strategy" beyond that of being an effective enabler of the operating model, and perhaps contributing to strategy through differentiation via operating efficiency (a recognized strategy). This point of view I think is consistent with that of Carr, which I have reluctantly come increasingly to accept, in part through viewing that very destructive competition you reference.

What is a Product Manager and what do they have to do with ITIL v3? I have encountered the title several times in actual practice, with varying roles & responsibilities. I am honestly curious what you meant.

Generally, I would appreciate a bit more detailed substance in your responses. Rather than asserting that this is all well known or in Drucker's massive oeuvre, please do cite the specific case studies or articles by Drucker in furtherance of the debate. At least, I don't think I'm the only one with these types of questions.

Also, I spent time with some good architects this week at the Integration Consortium meeting in Banff. Modeling business strategy is definitely in scope for EA methods and practices. I was reminded of the existence of the Business Motivation Model (, and that one of the first iterations of DODAF was to add a motivation component to it. It's how we trace the capability structure of the operating model to the strategic motivations it serves.

(EA does not get off Scot-free either; see

Charles T. Betz


The story begins in the 1880s with Frederick Winslow Taylor. He was a young lad who turned down Harvard for manual labour, eventually becoming chief engineer for an industry leading steel company. Historically, businesses were defined by what they made -- steel, cola or coffee. The challenge for business was to increase productivity.

The way to do that was to make production processes as efficient as possible. A theme found in ITILv2. This focus on efficiency made great sense in an industrial economy where demand far exceeded supply and goods were scarce; a managers mission was to make things cheaper to produce.

Taylor approached process efficiency with the rigor of a scientist. However simple a task may seem, he said, you need to study it systematically to determine the “one best way” to do it. Best practice*, if you will. The parameters of value, in Taylor’s world , were all contained within the walls of the factory. Developed economies owe much of their prosperity to Taylor's models.

Paradoxically, the real limitation of Taylor’s mental models lie in its focus on manufacturing efficiency. He assumed that value meant making whatever you want more efficiently. He wasn’t wrong, but he was thinking too narrowly about management’s mission. It never ocured to him whether you were making the right things to begin with, or whether you could create more value by undertaking broader missions.

Taylor’s assumptions worked because goods were scarce. But by the middle of the twentieth century, scarcity began to give way to consumer abundance, particulary in the United States. The question “what is value?” needed a new answer.

So our story takes a dramatic turn when a Vienna-born scholar name Peter Drucker decides, in 1943, to spend two years studying General Motors. In his 1954 landmark book The Practice of Management, Drucker offers us a critical redefinition of value - a new mental model. Customers don’t buy products, he said, they buy the satisfaction of particular needs. This means that what the customer values is different from what the producer thinks he sells.

When you define value with an inward focus such as efficiency, as Taylor did, you have a manufacturing mindset. It suggests that you start with what you make, price it on what it costs you and then you sell it to the customer. A make-and-sell model.

Drucker urged us to think differently; to adopt a new mental model. He advocated a marketing mindset. It is a sense-and-respond model that starts with what the customer wants and what they are willing to pay. This determines both what you make and how much you can spend making it. This shift in perspective was the managerial equivalent of discovering the world wasn’t flat after all.

But our story doesn’t end there.

It continues with one of the most important marketing papers ever written: `Marketing Myopia' by Theodore Levitt. Pundits have gone as far as to suggest that its publication marked the beginning of the modern marketing movement in general.

The paper’s theme was that most organizations were too constricted in terms of what they saw as the business they were in. The oil companies, for example, redefined their business as energy rather than just petroleum; although Shell, which embarked upon an investment programme in nuclear power, subsequently regretted this course of action.

IT struggles bacause, in many ways, it still thinks in Taylor’s terms. It often thinks of itself in manufacturing efficiency models rather than the greater scope of opportunities as industry changes.

George Steiner claims that if buggy whip manufacturers in 1910 defined their business as the "transportation starter business", they might have been able to make the creative leap necessary to move into the automobile business when technological change demanded it. Instead, they focused on architecting and manufacturing better and more efficient buggy whips. While they likely had superior operating models, they had no strategy. And we all know how that story ended.

With regards to a definition or goal of a "service strategy" and product manager, I'd prefer to wait three more weeks. I've probably already overstepped the NDAs.

*Skeptic - It suddenly occurs to me that when every enterprise seeks and adopts best practice, they are unwittingly creating a scenario of destructive competition. That is, if everyone adopts best practice, no one prospers. Hence, best-practice must differ from enterprise to enterprise. interesting conundrum.


I'm familiar with this basic history. Not sure how it supports any of the points you've made above or especially your contention that my mental models are outdated. The buggy whip story is quite hoary.

My points still stand. Others share them: see

"One of the stated aims of version 3 is to make a clearer and stronger link between ITIL and business benefits. As such, this potentially represents another improvement over previous versions, which have commonly been associated only with IT operations (namely service delivery and service support). However, we believe current assumptions will continue such that ITIL version 3 will simply become a more business-aligned IT operations discipline rather than ITO-wide discipline." [emphasis added]

'Nuff said.

Charles T. Betz

Not the only one

I originally said this was basic stuff. You asked for sources and now your rebuttal is "its basic history."

Of course it is.

This discussion is surreal; you miss the whole point of the most basic tenets of strategy and business organizations and then come back with a Hydrasight editorial. That was good for a chuckle.

I'll happily move on.

Where's the beef?

Basic history can be useful in a discussion, when it is tied to the points under debate. I just don't see the connection between your history lesson and what we've been talking about.

Hydrasight appreciates the role of EA. Why does my citing them amuse you?

Charles T. Betz

Confused or deliberately obtuse?

I can't comment on what is amusing about Hydrasight, although in general citing an analyst firm less than a couple of years old because they agree with you (as compared to bring something of substance to the debate) isn't a strong approach. Besides, what does the cited article bring to the discussion on the difference between strategy and operations?

It may be basic stuff, but I wasn't familiar with the buggy analogy myself. Hoary or not, I can understand the simple illustrative point: ".. they focused on architecting and manufacturing better and more efficient buggy whips. While they likely had superior operating models, they had no strategy."

There's a very clear logical point made here. Why are you ignoring it? Why does it matter that it is an old story? Why ask for explanations of the basics, if basic explanations are to be denigrated?

Incidentally, I've read your book. It's very good, and I've been putting some of it to good use (I'm a consultant for one of the major vendors). Even so, I think it would do you well to respond more intelligently to accusations of being stuck in a manufacturing mentality. Perhaps it is wrong, but your webpage is "erp4it"! Your response suggests that your opinion is suspect in a straightforward debate - it does make me wonder if you are one of these architects who gets confused about the difference between their job and business strategy.

The flip side of the "ITIL has no credibility for architects" is of course that some people running major IT operations have little time for the loose minded "strategists" whose problems they had to resolve.

a good place to continue this debate

Folks, I think erp4it would be a good place to continue this debate please.

The points are made on both sides but I don't see us reachiong any conclusion. I'm having to restrain dool :-D

I think the proof of the pudding will come when we attempt to apply the Service Strategy book. It does seem to be leading rather than following accepted practice. It makes good sense to me but the test will be whether it is accepted by the consituency and whether it works pragmatically. As to where it fits and who will end up runnign with it, I'd say that is anyone's guess at this point, and some results will be un-guessed-at right now.

on a panel at a conference some time

I'd love to get you two guys on a panel at a conference some time :-D

Nice point

As the philosopher once commented on rock bands, " long as they are fighting about the music and not the money..."

Why kill your business chasing Best Practice?

I agree. See Why chase Best Practice?: "World class best practice looks like everyone else...It is taken as a given that organisations want to achieve best practice in everything they do and an organisation that doesn't is somehow less worthy than those that do. This should not be the case. Pursuing Best Practice is a strategic decision, which should be taken when there is an agreed ROI (tangible or intangible) for the resource investment required to get there…
do ITIL (or any "best practice") when there is a business case for it. When there isn’t, don’t flog yourself and don’t weaken your organisation."

whether V3 falls closer to your ideas or Charles'

Hi dool

Which book did you review? I'm curious if it was Strategy.

And of course I'll be real curious to see whether V3 falls closer to your ideas or Charles'


Alas, three more weeks until it all becomes public. Then the real fun begins.

head on a pike

That comment fits rather nicely with my latest post

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