Is ITIL Version 3 "Strategy Generation" a mystery process?

Perhaps readers can help out one of your fellows who is stuck on the ITIL Version 3 process "Strategy Generation".

In a recent email, Richard asked:

I'm a Trainer who has been training ITIL for a relatively short time. I have been trying to work out where Strategy Generation comes from. I know it is listed as a process with APMG's syllabus but there is no clear description of what it is or any that I can locate in the book. I'm under the impression that the 4 main activities in Service Strategy would fall under this process but I cant locate anything in the book that suggests this. Could you be able to give me some feedback on this or advise me where the best place to find out would be.

What do you think?


It is in the Official Introduction

I had this experience as well when looking at one of the diagrams in the Official Introduction to the ITIL Service lifecycle: suddenly there were two processes that I hadn't seen in the core books: Strategy Generation and Operations Management. As we were preparing for a. the service manager bridging exam (trainers need to get certified in order to give the training next year) and b. creating the training for the service manager bridging exam we were a little surprised. Not for long, since the syllabus contains many references to stuff which is not in the books, or at least not where APMG say it is.

I assume that the 4 activities of Service Strategy are what is considered the Strategy Generation Process. Since there is no role description in the Service Strategy book other than that of the product manager, there are no process flows and process deliverables, this process is not really there. It is only in that diagram. Or is it the twilight zone?

Strategy Generation defined first, named later...

Yes, Strategy Generation is the name for the process that is broken down explicitly within Service Strategy book with the following 4 activities:
- Define the Market
- Develop the Offerings
- Develop Strategic Assets
- Prepare for Execution

Using Occam's razor: The name for the Service Strategy's chapter 4 activities didn't exist when it was published.

Take a look at:
(it's included in the process list at page 41, in a more graphical view with the Figure 7 at page 42, and page 50 in the context of the Service Model to come)
It's funny I can see it mentioned but not defined in this overview. In an older post here there's a reference to Sharon Taylor mention to Strategy Generation:

I'm expecting a new, more clearer and less heavy ITIL v3 Foundation syllabus (specially on Service Strategy) before Christmas... So Training providers can balance it more.


Thanks guys. I think I agree with ITMaturity. The twilight zone is making more sense to me right now. As you pointed out Rumagoso makes mention of Strategy Generation in the overview and gives a graphical representation but still sheds no light on the matter. Then in the article under your post heading "27 processes and [not] counting" I see it states that Strategy Generation is another name for the Service Strategy Process. So I can only come to the following conclusion about the process and I would like your opinions.

Because it is the very first process in creating a strategy the roles would be filled by the top directors. The key decision makers, the business navigators. Im under the impression that this process has no real definition because at that level of decision making there is no set path or model to follow. Now I may be shooting myself in the foot here. But processes have process models which consist of process control and Processes also are traceable to a trigger. These points would eliminate Strategy Generation as being a process would they not. You cant trace Strategy Generation to a trigger, There would be no process control at this level of decision making as it is the top level. So there for it is regarded as a "process" only due to the fact that it is made up of coordinated activities.

Because of this ambiguity of Strategy Generation (assumed on my part) I would say that it has to be listed as a process for the syllabus but Strategy Generation still does not meet all the criteria listed in the definition of a process.

What are your views?

strategy process

Richard, I think you are on to something.

Strategy, and the mechanisms leading up to it, are disturbingly often explained in simplistic terms. Its nature is inherently dialectic and characterized by uncertainty. It deals with a future state we cannot really know. The hunger for a crisp service strategy workflow process often trips up ITSM strategists.

Can we "plan" it, as in a process? I don't know, but, if so, it should be done with an understanding of the limits and traps of "strategic planning". Jack Welch banned the term at GE when became CEO. Ironic, considering he was formerly head of GE's strategic planning group. He didn't ban strategy. He sought to avoid the perils of focusing on a mechanistic strategic planning process.

Henry Mintzberg himself spent several hundred pages arguing "the rise and fall of strategic planning". This is where the ideas of "patterns of action" and "strategic emergence" entered the business mainstream - ITIL's "4Ps".

ITIL's loose use of the word "process".

Completely agree. There has been discussion on this blog of ITIL's loose use of the word "process". See a recent example here and a discussion of how Configuration is not a process, and others I can't find right now.

I believe the ITIL authors use process and practice and function (and even domain) interchangeably, as they did in ITILv2.

if a process, go with the flow

It is frustrating that processes appear in pocket guides and introductions to the lifecycle AFTER the main publications come out. I searched the SS pub using the OGC web version and there is no specific reference to a strategy generation process, and (surprise!) there is a reference to it in both the OGC intro pub and the pocket guide. Perhaps it's time for V3.1? If the major activities in Service Strategy are those in the 'strategy generation process' then why not say so in the first place? For that matter, why not include the "other 4 P's" (of strategy) to boot?

Also, if you are going to provide characteristics of a process (triggers, et al) then put a flow chart together and illustrate what you mean for each process. The need to generate or change a strategy can be triggered by competition, opportunity, etc.; why not give some examples? The models in the intro book I thought were great; I just would have preferred they not add something not explicitly identified in the Good Books....

In this case I suppose the strategy was to draw attention to 'complimentary guidance' and 'web tools' which may clear up some of this uncertainty. So for now I guess I'll go with the flow...

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

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