The reality of working in increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environments is going to drive organizations to adapt and thrive.
This lack of certainty has made people very nervous about making long-term plans and is, essentially, almost an ideal scenario for best practices like ITIL®; frameworks that are adaptable to a “new normal” or what remains of the “old normal” rather than being overly prescriptive.
So, where will the pain be most felt in service management? Those who thrive on long periods of stability and certainty – for example, “press this button and this happens” – will find that previous rules and norms for managing incidents and changes will go out of the window.
While organizations will still want technology fixes, this will be based on more rapidly changing needs and priorities of the business.
What, therefore, do I think should be top of the service management to-do list?
- ITIL guiding principles
These have become even more relevant than before. For example, “focus on value” relies on being able to articulate value in a digital environment; when people can’t get face to face, explaining value and vision clearly is vital. That clarity is amplified if you can master the “keep it simple” guiding principle; essential to prevent mixed messages and the problems that can result.
- Find ways to collaborate
Humans are social animals, so finding and adapting the right ways to collaborate now are important. Collaborating more digitally as opposed to face-to-face has a sharper learning curve.
Many service managers have doubtless been rapidly deploying new solutions, such as video conferencing. We should be learning every day about how to make the digital experience better and design solutions for user experience, because we can’t rely on people to just use software intuitively. We need to deliver solutions so people can be productive more quickly.
This was always a priority but now it should be second nature to good service managers.
- Meeting demand tomorrow
Normal change and planning cycles for products, services processes, procedures and the idea of long-term planning are currently consigned to the “dustbin” of history. Now, it’s about improving and building services for tomorrow. For example, Covid-19 means it’s difficult to predict what your business will look like in three weeks’ time let alone three months. So, recognizing and preparing for another change in direction tomorrow and the day after with adaptable governance and practices makes sense.
- People qualities: multi-tasking and bravery
Service managers will need to multi-task and have the courage to try new things, even when the situation is borderline chaotic. If they can see that something needs to be done – and that it’s a manageable risk – it might mean tearing up existing processes.
For example, IT change will always need a level of scrutiny. However, when people are not available to provide input – because of remote working or being busy with other tasks – service managers have to be flexible and adaptable in the context.
Finally, this situation has led to us all working with new people and having to develop new relationships quickly. That’s NOT easy! Service managers need to learn about interacting with people who have different perspectives, be willing to have an open mind and do things in a different way.