The Netherlands is an unusual country

After a few days in the Netherlands for the itSMF's Best Practice conference, the IT Skeptic can say it is an unusual country. It is unusually flat, with an unusually large number of canals and ditches, but that is not what is meant. It is unusually friendly and orderly and honest but that isn't what is meant either. It must be the only country in the world that is widely skeptical about ITIL.

The Dutch seem to be naturally open to options. They want to see the possibilities before committing to a course of action. They respect dissent and are curious about debate. And they are hard working and diligent, systematically working though the considerations and covering all the angles. No wonder they take to bodies of knowledge - process and frameworks and methodologies - like the proverbial ducks to water (of which they have plenty: ducks and water and BOKs).

ITIL is just one possibility to the Dutch. They have strong home-grown alternatives such as ISM or the ITSM Library (now embraced by itSMF), and they are interested in any others such as Ian Clayton's (who was also at this conference).

So there was strong debate and some brisk criticism of ITIL (to which the IT Skeptic contributed of course). This is not to say that the community or the conference is anti-ITIL: the focus was on making ITIL succeed, and being aware when there was a better alternative or other things that should be added to the mix. As the IT Skeptic likes to say, let us move from 5 out of 10 ITIL projects succeeding to 6 out of 7. That is, three of those 10 initiatives should have been still-born, and of the remaining seven, let us find ways to make a greater percentage successful.

The Dutch like to think their society is a healthy one and it certainly seems so. They don't get hung up on FUD, they don't get swept up in cultish thinking, they don't fall for hype. And they don't follow along with the crowd until they have been convinced.

Congratulations to Jan and Herman and the itSMFnl for an excellent open-minded, free-thinking (and superbly run) conference.

Now to get home to the other side of the planet...



Are you aware that your performance at this conference got a spread across the entire front page of "Automatisering Gids", our leading IT weekly? In Dutch, but still...
Mail me if you haven't seen it, I'll see if they can send you a copy.


I couldn't have put it better myself

Thank-you Alex (and a pleasure to meet you)

I'm afraid I don't speak Dutch. Readers with a similar disability can see the precis of the article 'translated' (in the broader sense of the word) by Google: "ITIL is corrupted and threatens to be unusable" - I couldn't have put it better myself.

a tip to suck

For another 'Ginglish' translation, readers may also enjoy this article in Computable also arising from the IT Skeptic's attendance at the conference (thankyou M.): "many can ICT department a tip to suck". Quite.

Nice picture of me and Ian too.


To all who participated, I offer my congratulations. It seems from what has been shared here that much good work was done. I am only sorry that I was unable to attend (had a schedule conflict). I think I would have really enjoyed it! It's my hope that practitioners around the world will use this as a call to arms and a chance to focus on what's important. Keep going!


Keep on moving

Skep, thank you for steering the discussion. I would also like to thank Ian and all the others participating this week. I hope that we can continue this discussion on a wider scale and in different countries. I believe that the entire ITSM market will profit from an open minded discussion. I look forward to working with you guys again.


An exceptional event that demands repeating elsewhere

Skep, Jan, Herman, Brian, Paul and the 800 or so who joined us...

This is an exceptional event that rekindled my belief there is so much goodness in an open vibrant forum that allows new and old ideas to be discussed and questioned. How else do we improve? How else can we understand if our ideas, biases, opinions and general traits are of value and help? Its clear that an event designed to help professionals develop and enhance their working knowledge and career opportunities should be led by their own community.

I am now convinced that events in the US are far too vendor-led, far too scared to discuss matters that might 'interfere with sales pipelines'. Far too nervous to 'rock the boat' - who's boat - not mine or my customer's?

It was also a hoot to be on a panel with the Skeptic, Brian Johnson and Paul Wilkinson, actually a more balanced view of service management and ITIL than many would believe....! You can expect to hear much, much more from all involved, very, very soon.

A huge thank you to Jan and Herman for continuing to host this event, to the itSMF NL and EXIN for their magnificent support, and to my fellow service management professionals in Holland, who showed us all that listening, discussing, then questioning, are major parts of living, learning and leading.


Hi Skeptic,

From my favourite movie:
As Brian says to the crowd: "go home, you are all individuals". And the crowd answers as one: "yes, we are all individuals". And then the Dutch guy stands up from the crowd and says "I am not an individual..."

It was a pleasure to meet you. Please do not forget to make a Dutch version of your "ITIL Learner" buttons with a blue sign instead of a yellow one ;-)



Have a good trip back home

Hi Rob, Skeptic,

It was a pleasure meeting you and hearing your views on the future and alternatives to ITIL. I hope you have a good trip back home and a nice vacation as well. As mentioned, it gives us the freedom to go haywire on your blog, but we will keep it nice and friendly of course ;-)

With regards to the Dutch views on ITIL. We have adopted ITIL very early and that gives us a lot of insight and experience. At the same time we have done all the things we shouldn't have done with the ITIL books at the first place (room for imagination here). As Antonio said, we have years on the rest, but that is not necessary a good thing. In a recent poll among Dutch IT (middle) managers the feeling was expressed that ITIL was bureaucratic and didn't deliver on its promises. I've had one customer showing me a real museum piece: a cupboard filled with rows of ITIL initiatives (6 in total) in the past 15 years. Most of these initiatives failed to make a lasting impression because they focused mainly on short term 'process' improvement. The transformations were simply not fundamental enough to actually change the behavior and culture of the IT staff. The experience with ITIL projects has been so bad, that a lot of the IT managers are not considering ITIL-like initiatives anymore.

Interesting enough, another survey has shown that Dutch CIO's that have a background in management or business education (MBA's, etc.) show more support for ITIL like initiatives then CIO's that have a background in IT technology and IT management. So on a more strategic level the support for ITIL (and COBIT) is growing where on the tactical level management is skeptical and extremely critical on ITIL (and do not have a clue about COBIT). It might be that ITIL will gain a new life in the Netherlands as part of the new wave of IT management theories coming from the American Business Schools. Interesting to see how it will go.

Regards, Paul

They have more experience than anybody

Thinking.... they are an openminded people and have had enough time to learn. That's what I meant when talking about "10 years of experience is not time enough"

Of course, I also enjoyed the conference; learnt a lot and came back plenty of new ideas, new approaches, more light in my brain and plenty of opinions to share here, there, everywhere.

And of course, as I am a secondary people, I have many things to discuss with you, Jan and Ian. (with secondary I mean that I need to think a couple of days before the good ideas are cooked)



Thanks, skep. Yes we like to debate and are somewhat blunt in our comments...
I think your first public performance was very good. And thanks for your mousepad. Let the Queen of ITIL come out of her castle (Windsor or th OGC Office?).


Maarten Bordewijk
Getronics PinkRoccade

Of course they are sceptical..

After all they have been using ITIL in the Netherlands longer than just about anywhere else.

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