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ITIL® Misconceptions: "You don’t need to worry about culture when adopting the ITIL framework."

ITIL® Misconceptions:

Should IT organizations worry about culture when adopting the ITIL® framework? It is a misconception to think that they shouldn’t.

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Although cultural change - both behavioural and procedural - should begin long before a significant change, such as adopting ITIL, begins, many organizations don’t have the language nor the structure to adequately discuss culture. It is easier to ignore it, but leaving culture to take care of itself can bring about anarchy without oversight or direction, and can cause delays and possible rejection of the change initiative by employees and stakeholders.

Becky KaiserMoving from one framework to another shouldn’t affect the organization’s culture too drastically, but going from home-grown processes and methods to a structured framework can be quite daunting. IT organizations can underestimate how disruptive change can be.

Many companies take the attitude that culture is wishy-washy and isn’t a serious concern, yet, after six months, they face so many walls that they find it impossible introduce change. They have to stop, back up and start again by educating the stakeholders about ‘why ITIL?’ After that, employees are far more likely to embrace the change.

While there is no formula for nurturing a flawless organizational culture, utilizing a framework offers a better opportunity for change and culture to develop together. A clear understanding of the current state of the organization will help identify what’s working now, what needs to change and what the change plan is.

There are steps an organization can take to manage the company culture which will help a change initiative run smoothly:

  1. Involve employees from the start
    With employees, brainstorm what’s working and what’s not. Reassure those most affected that they have value and a voice. By asking them to help shape the change, their worth to the organization is acknowledged
  2. Embracing cultural changes
    Encourage employees to embrace the process. The more involved they are, the smoother the change will go. Starting with quick wins will get them ready for when the bigger stuff comes along.
  3. Breaking down larger change
    Larger changes can be broken down into smaller bites, which will make them easier to work through and can make them less daunting for potentially resistant employees.
  4. Demonstrating a top-down commitment
    People in the organization need to see change manifested in the upper levels of the organization, otherwise the change might be resisted. They need to see it in action in order to be able to emulate it. That starts at CEO level.

What does success look like?

Success depends on the organization. An open organization that embraces change and has a culture of employee engagement will find change initiatives much easier to roll out. If that change initiative includes adopting and adapting ITIL, then managing the mindset of the various stakeholders at the very start will help the whole initiative run more smoothly.

See our ITIL section for more information.

Want to talk about this topic with your community? Join the debate online where AXELOS Community Manager Toby Moore asks whether cultural change initiatives should be included in an ITIL project, or considered as something separate than begins before adopting ITIL. Have your say on AXELOS Community.

More blogs in our ITIL Misconceptions series

ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL doesn’t require any formal training, it is just common sense or a tool that will fix it all.”

ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is incompatible with other practices.”

ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is only for big organizations.”

ITIL® Misconceptions: "ITIL is for infrastructure or production only."

ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL requires too many people.”

ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is a standard to adhere to”

5 popular misconceptions about ITIL®: ‘ITIL is a standard’, and other folk stories

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AXELOS ITIL Misconceptions Quiz - The Results

ITIL Misconception Quiz - The Results

We asked our community what they thought the most common misconceptions about ITIL are - see the full list of our ITIL Misconceptions Quiz questions along with the answers and results.

Download the results >