Customer value

The cult of the customer keeps popping up to annoy me. Yesterday I posted about how being customer-centric doesn't mean spending all our time with the customer, about how it's important to spend most of our time inside the factory, delivering. Today I want to talk about "customer value" and how it isn't the Holy Grail of IT. We as organisations don't exist for our customers. We exist for the continuance of the organisation, Click to tweet We exist to maximise value for the organisation, whether it be commercial, public or non-profit. It's not anti-customer to realise they are not the be-all and end-all of our existence.

The goal of our activities should be to maximise value for our organisation. That value is defined by the owners and governors of the organisation not the customers.

The measurement of value is of course different for every organisation. Customer value is not one such metric. Stop foaming: let me explain.


OK I've had it with the cult of the customer. I just saw one remark too many about "it's all inward-looking". We need to be inward-looking most of the time or we're not doing our ****ing job. Let me illustrate with that favourite analogy: a water supply.

The cult of the customer

Examine your assumptions around "customer first". Often but not always. There is such a thing as over-servicing the customer. Who is paying and what do THEY want? The Cult of the Customer forgets that the customer is only one end of the value chain, not every link.

The cult of innovation

IT is currently gripped by a Cult of Innovation: novelty is king; development/improvement a headlong rush into the future; only the bleeding edge survives. We ought to know better.

The uselessness of ITIL process maturity assessment

I'm looking at a "classic" process maturity assessment done by a consulting firm for a client, and what a useless document it is. I'm not saying who sent it to me or why or where from. That isn't important here because so many assessments are similar. Compare yours.

The report analyses 8 practices. It doesn't say why those eight. ITIL has 27 or so, COBIT about 40. They are a typical eight: Incident, Request, Problem, Change, SACM, SLM, Knowledge, Catalogue.

ITIL: Don't shoot the message

It seems to me that ITIL is often very badly done (zealous, anal, officious, misdirected, overblown, dogmatic, theoretical, detached...), and people's bad experience results in them blaming ITIL itself. I've recently seen the effect of ITIL on a neophyte and it was positive and enriching: new awareness, new models to help solve challenges, hope for order in the chaos, a resource to help.

I point the finger at book-carrying door-to-door consultants, hype-merchant analysts generating their own industry, and tub-thumping vendors selling out-of-the-box snake-oil to the credulous (yes they share the blame). Don't shoot the message, shoot the inept messengers. Discuss.

Process maturity is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for improving service.

Yesterday we looked at how CMM-type maturity is not a measure of how well you are delivering service. CMM only measures sophistication of management, and actually only sophistication of empirical management. The corollary is that maturity assessments are not a measure of whether an improvement exercise was successful, not if the objective was to improve quality of service.

But wait! there's more! Mature management-by-numbers of process is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for improving service.

The cure for the common cult of "ITIL by the book"

What a great line: "the cure for the common cult". Oooh, I wish I had thought of that, but I didn't. It comes from a recent article by Brian Johnson, one of the original authors of ITIL and an occasional contributor of comments on this blog.

The march of ITIL zealots

Today let's look closer at the recent survey I quoted previously. We will discuss the lack of decent empirical evidence for ITIL in a subsequent blog. Vendor surveys are a poor substitute (I know, I worked for one), but when they are all we have then we should at least listen to them.

Sadly I don't think I can include Evergreen in my Circle of ITIL Skeptics, but they undoubtedly take a mature and rational approach to ITIL:

Which industry standards are relevant to my organization and which are redundant?
How do I get started?

ITIL the cult

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We have seen that the ITIL movement has distinct overtones of a fad. What about a cult? A group that defines its own measure of good and bad by comparing against its own internal reference books then declares that those books hold the key to getting from bad to good sounds mighty like a cult to me.

A colleague gave me a model that I shall call the Skeptical Maturity Model for Technology Adoption. It has four phases

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