ITIL is culturally biased by its narrow and closed contributor base

ITIL is written by “service suppliers, training companies and academia in Britain, Canada and the USA” who know IT operations and cater to corporate business. That is a narrow authorship base for a framework that sets out to document IT Service Management. No authors from Asia. No authors from government, health, engineering, non-profits, or small business. And zero mechanisms for the disenfranchised to contribute. So how does anyone know it is universal best practice, and is it best for those other users?

A comment on this site today by Charlie Betz highlights ITIL's weaknesss outside operations and infrastructure, which is just another dimension of the biases inherent in it becasue of the narrow base from which it is drawn.

A modern body of compiled practices would make use of all the participation and contibution mechanisms of today's internet. The ITIL establishment of OGC-itSMF don't even provide paper-based feedback channels and they solicit nothing.

See the IT Skeptic's latest article for ITSMWatch for the argument in full.

N.B. the article talks about OpenITIL. I was tipped off about it by It is in German but it well rewards wrestling with a translation for lots of good content.


ITIL in The Netherlands

My company (Pink Elephant/PinkRoccade, now Getronics) has been contributing to ITIL for over 20 years now. Although we indeed are an IT service provider we are the largest supplier to the Dutch central and local government, so our contributions have always taken their interests into account and a large number of contributions were co-authored with representatives from Ducth Government agencies and educational institutions. Yet I think your point is valid.

I think it's just that the US were late to adopt the ITIL framework (our former subsidiary Pink Elephant North America [] was actually instrumental in introducing ITIL to North America). It's just that to me it seems that especially Americans don't like things open and conceptual. So companies like Microsoft came up with MOF (to which we contributed as well) and now try to patent and 'own' the concepts and models. Such a shame...

one big white, Western, capitalist nexus

From where you sit, America looks like a foreign land. From down here, it all looks like one big white, Western, capitalist nexus from California to Scandinavia :-D Your point is valid: Dutch input has been significant in the past.

ITIL3 was written by North American and British authors, with input from some other countries. And mostly, ITIL3 was written by consulting firms grown rich on ITIL and other industry fads.

You make another interesting point that I have not addressed in the past: the consultants in theory represent their clients. I say "in theory" because I would suggest that in fact they represent what they think is good for their clients. In the case of government this has a patronising edge, as most Western business people consider themselves superior to civil servants (for the contra case think Singapore).

In the case of business, this is first biased by their experience being limited to those businesses that can afford them (not looking at Pink in particular, but if the cap fits...), and second it is biased again by the rabidly pro-ITIL culture within these consulting firms (a natural consequence of making money from something).

Having a government or business practitioner contribute what they think might, I believe, yield different results.

ITIL V3 is not written by

ITIL V3 is not written by the USA - Dave Cannon is South African, there are two other folks and I'm not clear on their heritage - ask them. What I am certain of is that the views of the USA community, canvassed at the ITIL V3 seminar in Dallas in 2005 - went somewhat unheeded. We requested a refresh of V2 with more how-to. Historically, US input has gone nowhere - the UK Commonwealth syndrome sees to that. Oh sorry - you said 'North American' - that includes Canada - aha Pink! Sorry - foul ball - you can't mix USA and Canada - oil and water - try that when crossing the border! Hey I'm Canadian - give me a free pass into the US.

You are so right - ITIL is being written by those who profit from its existence. I just hope that this time they try and help us all address problems with what they write instead of giving us more theoretical rhetoric. The US will never adopt ITIL until it does. Don't confuse book buying and certification with implementation success.....

Syndicate content