Sounds contradicting? It sure does but that’s actually true. There is a lot of information available about these IT frameworks and movements. There are ITIL, DevOps, Agile, Lean, Cobit, ISO2000, SIAM, IT4IT and so on. And trust me, there will be more, plenty more. It will never end. But there will never be the day where you have one to rule them all. People are sharing tons of material and their own experiences etc. about these movements and frameworks. There are plenty of books to read too. The good thing is that it is really easy to access this huge amount of information. The down side is that a lot of the practice out there is subject of interpretation and might even in some cases be applied and described in a wrong way.
Its not deliberate, no. The use of selections of a particular framework applied for a specific situation/challenge at a company is a common approach. It might even succeed and increase or decrease whatever the target was. Is this wrong? Of course not. Could you brag about it? Of course. Could you even say that framework used works? Yes you can.
So how come everybody that have a success story claim that the particular framework or movement they used works, when there is example of every framework succeeding in some specific case? There are horror stories as well of course but let’s focus on the ones that actually claim that their specific religion, ops sorry for that, I mean framework or movement works.
First of all, and here is my theory, all of the frameworks and movements address IT service management (ITSM) in some way. More or less but they all do in some way. That means that there are fundamental parts of ITSM found in each and every one of these frameworks and movements. They might have different focus, but parts of the fundamentals are there in each and every one. In practice this would mean that if a framework or movement is used in a way that actually enables a company to reach their target or goals, you have a success story. BUT. That does not mean you would have failed if your reference had been another framework or movement. In practice again, the same approach applied and use in another situation and another company might not give the same results.
2 + 2 is not 4 every time in ITSM! Situations are not the same, targets are different, conditions and resources are different. There is not one single framework or movement that only has success stories. All the failures are blamed on wrong application or wrong use of the framework, if you are a believer. If you are not a believer the blame is that the wrong framework was used.
So here we are. We are all looking at the same thing but from different views, with different knowledge, experiences and condition etc. There are no right or wrong as long as you apply parts from whatever framework or movement and succeed to deliver value.
That was a short term perspective. So what happens when the years go by and this way of using and applying bits and pieces, simplified way of working, cutting corners etc. are continued? Hey come on, it has been working so no hard feelings here.
In the long time perspective a new challenge emerge. Specific applications or situations with a specific focus with engaged people always seem to do well and deliver great results. But slowly things start breaking apart. Changes made to way of working do not seem to give any obvious positive affect. We run out of quick fixes and things start to get complicated. More and more seems nestled and optimization of a single process or procedure does not work anymore. Now it seems like there is a need for orchestration of multiple procedures or processes. The introduction of a new process or adaptions of and existing might give increased value in a completely different part of the process landscape. It all seems to be interlinked. The way we used to adapt with bits and pieces, simplified way of working, cutting corners etc. no longer works.
I guess you already know where this is heading. ITSM is not about one process, one procedure, one function, one role etc. ITSM is about the whole picture. There is not one thing that makes it all work. In the beginning one can get a lot of value by introducing small isolated parts which seem to have an immediate and positive effect. But along the road the effort and complexity increases while the benefits are decreasing, or in some cases, are absent.
It’s now where the going gets tough. The sherry picking times are over. It’s not sufficient to address isolated parts any more. We need to look at the whole picture and understand how it all comes together and works as a system. Every adaption we intend to make must be design from a holistic perspective. It’s a complete machinery that needs to work where every single adaption is analyzed, design and changed based on improving the system as whole.
So where is that framework or movement that can accomplish this complete system? I'm sorry to say, but there is none that covers the width and depth of everything. This is why every framework and movement comes in to play. Every company has their challenges and obstacles, and depending on them, different strategies are relevant based on what they want to accomplish. It cannot be read in a book. It cannot be thought in a class. What you need are experienced professionals that are capable of doing the analysis required to understand how these frameworks can be used in a combined and valuable way to achieve the goals ahead.
It is hard work and demands a lot of effort. The only way to achieve this kind of change is to treat it as a business change and admit the fact that it is people you deal with, not technology. Treat your change as a people change initiative with enabling business goals as your target.
Start designing your ITSM puzzle and try not to be religious about a specific framework. See all the frameworks as collections of knowledge and try to see how they can benefit you in your specific needs to achieve your goals and targets. Don't try to do it all at once. Introduce small changes but never forget that "every small change you do, is designed to improve the system as whole". Small changes are good. They are not perceived as a threat. But be clear about the benefits, even if it is not visible where the change is made. Always explain why!
This is why I don't like frameworks and movements. They are too often described as a prescription or solution for everything but they are not. So I use them all. And I think you should too.
Happy New Year to everyone and I hope your 2016 will prosper.