ITSM the next generation: To boldly go where no ITIL® has gone before! - Part 1

This image shows a view of The Palms, Dubai as the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft psses below, in an image taken by ESA astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station on April 10, 2016.

<BEEP>….The Mission control flight screen displayed another systems event…

Inside the control room a concerned team of specialists is huddled round the Mission (Sales) Director, looking at the results of the flight plan so far. The first mission goal was not achieved, revenue targets are below market expectations and customer satisfaction had dropped.

Why couldn’t we release all the business requests? Or address the customer feedback issues”? Asked the Mission Director of the Space-Y MarsLander mission. “We are losing our competitive edge”!

IT was too busy” explained the frustrated Product Owner.

With what”?  Questioned the Mission Director.

Er…we don’t know….stuff”!, said the Product Owner, “..they had a lot of outages and events…….but Application Development is installing some automation to speed up deployments and enable us to release more features”.

But we still have a backlog in change control” said the Change and Release Manager.

“We are losing value. We cannot be competitive. We face risks…….why”!? demanded the Mission Director, shaking his head in frustration.

There was silence. Nobody seemed to know.

<BEEP> …the Mission control flight screen displayed another event.
Shut that thing off”! snapped the Mission Director, shifting his gaze to the Service Manager. ‘You’ he said ‘what is it you do all day?....what is your contribution to solving this?.....Them I understand” said the Mission Director pointing at the Service Desk, the System Engineer, Change & Release manager “…they all build stuff and fix stuff….what do you do”?

Er……’ said the Service Manager “we met our service levels on incident resolution”!

Really’ said the Mission Director ‘….and were all systems working to ensure we could collect and transmit data from the Hardy-IV comet”?

“…Hardy what”? said the Service manager.

These were just some of the experiences of delegates participating in the MarsLander simulation at the itSMF Slovakia conference.

After this painful exchange with the Mission Director, the team said that they recognized what just happened in their daily reality. A growth in demand from the business. IT struggling with achieving operational excellence, steering based on internal metrics, ITSM searching for justification in a new Agile world.

ITIL® 4? More theory? More certificates? Or more business value?

The team then explored some of the latest ITIL 4 concepts. Starting with the Guiding Principles (Which less than 10% of conference delegates had even heard of, never mind the new ITIL 4 principles, they had never heard of the ITIL 2011 principles!)

  • Focus on value’ - What value? For who? Value creation? or Value leakage?
  • Collaborate and promote visibility’ - visibility of what? ‘Value streams’? What value streams? What demands go in? What value comes out?
  • Progress iteratively with feedback’ – feedback from who? And how are we going to prioritize these iterative improvements against doing all the daily work and delivering business requests and features?

IT service managers sat at computer screens viewing customer satisfacton dashboard and ITIL 4 diagram on bigger screens above them

The Service Manager in the simulation was then tasked with facilitating the improvement activity in the ITIL 4  Service Value Chain. Starting with ‘Engage’. The team started by engaging with all the stakeholders in the value chain to identify all the ‘Demands & Opportunities’ flowing through the chain? They had to collaborate and visualize the types of work. When doing this it soon became evident that there were different types of work and different value streams. (Requests, Features, feedback, Problems (defects), Incidents, Events, Emerging technologies, Service Improvements’).

It also became evident when gathering feedback that there was a lot of hidden toil, waste, manual activities that were introducing wasted costs and introducing risks (see value diagram below). These were visualized as improvements on the backlog of work. The Mission Director had already seen the negative impact on outcomes and was not impressed!

The Product Owner and Mission Director were shocked when they saw the amount and types of hidden work.

Value diagram ITIL®4.
Value diagram ITIL 4

The visualization showed a large percentate of time was spent wasting effort which stopped the team from delivering value. A lot of the events and incidents could be removed, suggested the System Engineer responsible for problem management during the stand-up meeting with the end-to-end team.

We can automate a lot of the event monitoring and responses and reduce wastage’ added the systems engineer. It soon became evident through visualization that end-to-end stakeholders could benefit from ‘Optimization and Automation’. The Service Manager pinned up the goals of the mission from the Mission Director ‘This is the value we are aiming at’, these…” he added pointing at the visual management board “are improvement items that shows what is stopping us”. The different value streams of work suddenly had a context to help prioritize their work. Both the work to be delivered by the value stream as well as improvement work.

The Service Manager together with Application Development and the System Engineer explained Service improvement actions and end-to-end (not just localized Application Development) automation solutions to reduce the waste and improve the capabilities to deliver more value.

Now this is better” said the Mission Director, entering the control room stand-up meeting. “Now I can make some decisions and have a better feeling I can govern our digital capabilities…...Who did this”? asked the Mission Director pointing at the visual management board.

Er…we did” said the Service Manager ..…”We are applying ITIL 4 concepts”, he proudly declared.

“….Well you’ve had ITIL® for the last umpteen years!…..why haven’t you been doing this already?

This is just common sense surely’!! said the Mission Director.

If you haven’t been focusing on value with ITIL so far than what have you been doing for all these years!?


End of Part 1. In Part 2 we will reveal the concrete, pragmatic takeaways from delegates to go and 'start where you are' and 'progress iteratively with feedback' as they start to adopt and apply ITIL4 learning in their daily work.

Read ITSM the next generation: To boldly go where no ITIL® has gone before! - Part 2.

Read more AXELOS Community Blog Posts from Paul Wilkinson

What has the business got to do with ITIL 4?

Scenario: Progress iteratively with feedback.

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts from Paul Wilkinson

Best practice in IT, ITSM and the ITIL Update

Adopting a value-based, outside-in approach to ITIL

Cyber security simulation: a crucial learning curve for organizations

Making the Guiding Principles live! - Designing for User experience?


Current rating: 4.7 (3 ratings)


15 Apr 2019 Wings2i
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Interesting read on what the future holds in store for ITSM....
28 Apr 2019 Chris Baldwin
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Brings established dev ops and lean thinking into the ITSM sphere, not a moment too soon. Continuous improvement has always been a core element of best practice but the hardest to sustain by hard-pressed BAU teams. Value based iterative approaches need to be embedded within a solid governance framework to ensure everyone is working to the same set of guide rails and there is a system of controls which are providing the right optics to ensure achievement of the organisations goals.
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