To my mind, one of the most useful additions to ITIL® Practitioner is the Guiding Principles (GP). The Guiding Principles help focus on the essential aspects for a successful ITIL adoption. They provide a powerful checklist to those responsible for ensuring an ITIL deployment does not turn into a bureaucratic exercise which delivers limited value.
In this blog post I want to focus on one specific GP, ‘Design for experience’, which is a sorely needed addition. Why is this? For more than 10 years these have been two of the top scoring ABC (Attitude, Behaviour, Culture) cards in global workshops.
IT is too internally focused – we design with an inside-out focus.
IT has too little understanding of Business Impact and priority – our designs do not take into account customers' real needs, as a result we create risk and can prevent value realization.
As a PAT member, when we were developing the ITIL Practitioner content and concepts we validated them with customer organizations – ‘Eat your own dog food’ – ‘Design for experience’. This article shows how we tested and validated the concepts and their value.
The Customer experience
We explained the thinking behind ITIL Practitioner, including the Guiding Principles (GP).
‘I recognize the ‘Internally focused ABC card’ said the customer, ‘...and I get the need to ‘Design for experience’, but how can we do this? How can we get the users on board with this initiative?’
‘OK’ we explained, another GP is ‘Observe directly’ – which means find out the customer’s real experiences, sit with them, observe, explore. You also mentioned you were getting resistance from the business. Resistance is a normal part of an ITIL journey. ITIL Practitioner recognizes this and talks about ‘surfacing resistance’. If we can surface this resistance we can agree ways of dealing with it. The practitioner also has a toolkit of methods and approaches that can help surface resistance, one of these is ABC, what we can do is a workshop, invite 50 users ‘observe directly’ (in dialogue) what they experience and need, use the ABC approach to surface their resistance and have the users give us input ‘design for experience’, not just a wish list of complaints but improvement suggestions ‘focused on value'.
The organization invited 50 of its IT users to two ABC workshops. The business sponsor introduced the workshops explaining the important role that IT plays in all business services, and how this role is becoming even more critical, as many of the services would become digitally delivered to the end customers. The business sponsor announced an audit of IT technology and capabilities as the start of a digital transformation.
The ABC workshops would be part of the audit and would be used to allow the IT users to give their input to an eventual IT improvement programme.
Christian Tijsmans of Connect the Dotz and Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks conducted the workshops.
“As the 50 or so delegates came into the room there was a sense of apprehension throughout. The delegates stayed towards the back warily eyeing the two ‘IT’ people (Us) standing at the front of the room... The CIO, as the only IT person from the organization in the room, stood to one side with some of the board members for moral support...”
Using the ABC of IT cards, which contained 52 worst practice cartoons of both Business and IT behaviour, 10 teams were given the following tasks:
- As an ‘Individual’ – choose the top 3 ABC worst practice cards that you recognize and experience in your daily use of IT, ones that irritate and frustrate you the most (Surface resistance)
- As a team - select from the cards chosen at your table the TOP card – which card has the most ‘negative impact’ on business value. Give concrete examples and describe the impact in terms of ‘lost productivity’, ‘delays’, ‘angry citizens’, ‘wasted money’ etc.
- Name the most positive aspect of the IT ABC – what does IT excel in. (Be Transparent, recognize and reward behaviour)
- What behaviour do you want to see change in IT to solve the recognized worst practices, and which stakeholder must display that behaviour? (This would be translated into the relevant ITIL capabilities (4 Ps) that would enable this behaviour).
The top scoring cards from the individual exercise were:
- 9 to 5 culture (chosen 27 times)
- Everything has the highest priority according to the users (chosen 15 times)
- Maybe we should have tested that change first (12)
- The solution the customer sees isn’t the one that IT sees (12)
- Avoidance culture (9)
- Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing (9)
- No understanding of business impact and priority (8)
- Them and Us culture (8)
- It thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case
- Not empowering people to do their work.
Focus on Value
We explained to the teams the concept of a Service (Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks) and asked them to discuss and chose a TOP card and record the business impact of these worst practices. These were some of their findings:
- ‘Loss of productivity – people unable to carry on with work’
- ‘Wasted money – solutions that were not fit-for-purpose’
- ‘Angry end customers unable to obtain service in a timely or accurate way(especially week-ends)’
- ‘Failure to obtain a subsidy as information was not made available on time….losing business opportunities’
- ‘New employees and volunteer staff unable to work for weeks. Impacting services to customers in care support’.
What needs to change?
The teams brainstormed and presented their suggestions as to what behaviour needed to change and which roles needed to display this change in behaviour to solve the TOP card - to reduce the business impact and the risks for the digital transformation.
There were a number of surprise findings from the workshop. It did not turn into the expected blame and complain session, it was a highly constructive exercise in which the users felt they were now being engaged and listened to.
The users were happy with the help desk and the most positive point they named unanimously was ‘IT willingness, friendliness and desire to get the job done’. However they were unable to do so because of ‘No management commitment’ - and by management commitment the users recognized this meant not simply IT management but also Business management (ineffective governance of IT).
Another surprising finding was the high scoring card ‘Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing’. It wasn’t that the users didn’t want to, or could not be bothered to. They really wanted to be engaged and involved but were not given the chance!
When the actions were defined ‘Who needs to display what behaviour?’ it was surprising to see that the users recorded almost as many actions for Business Managers and themselves as they did for IT. It is also interesting to see that although users obviously have no understanding of ITIL and its concepts many of the improvements they suggested can be directly related to ITIL.
Some of the suggestions:
- “Send IT staff into the business to learn how we use the services and the impact of outages, this will help change their attitude”
- “Business services need a ‘super user’, somebody able to translate business into IT and IT into business terms so that we can understand each other better"
- “Let the users make a list of simple, repeatable requests, such as ‘introduce a new employee’ and delegate authority to IT technical staff to carry these out. Currently requests ping-pong around at manager level and can take weeks”
- “Let the users sit down with IT and make a priority mechanism that reflects real business impact (such as ‘End citizens unable to have access to Service’, ‘Amount of users unproductive within specific departments, especially critical departments and services’)”
- “Ensure that the board of directors invites IT expertise into decision making meetings to present options and explain the impact of IT decisions already made by the board”
- Ensure all IT projects have business representation at the start and throughout, especially for testing, validating and agreeing solutions fit with the user functional needs.
- "We must have a balanced assessment on changes and change impact, we know the business wants and needs, but these must also be balanced with IT’s needs – there are often down-stream complications and costs and risks that only they can tell us, we must ensure this is also fed into the decision making and investment prioritization".
We were surprised at the high level of understanding that the users had into the back-office workings of IT. They did not explicitly name ITIL processes but understood things like:
- “The helpdesk must have some kind of mechanism to decide which calls to handle first. We should be involved in deciding this"
- “When the requirements for a new IT solution are being discussed we want to be involved in this and we want somebody from IT to help us specify this in IT terms”
- "When changes are being tested we need to be involved to ensure it meets requirements and is fit-for-use and fit-for purpose".
See our ITIL Practitioner section for more information.