Guerilla ITSM: When management doesn't care

What should you do if management does not care? resign or stay and fight?

What if no one cares?

No matter where you turn for enlightenment or support when starting an ITSM journey, one of the first things you learn is that management support is essential, if not fundamental, to succeed.

You only need to scan some LinkedIn groups or other forums scouting for questions like the ones I ask all the time:

  • “Where do I begin?”
  • “What to do first?”
  • “We want to establish problem management/a service catalogue/ an event manager and wonder how?”

The first bunch of answers are all versions of “Make sure you have management support”.

The ITIL books

If you happen to own some ITIL books and turn to them for guidance they also say that you need management support and some more or less extraordinary situation to be able to succeed with an IT Service Management initiative.

The ITIL Service Strategy book has a chapter about creating a strategy for implementing service management with some types of implementations listed. The one that describes the current situation at my organization best is called “even keel mode”. (The other modes are trouble mode, growth mode and radical change mode)

“Decision makers feel that their organizations are well managed and on track to meet their organizational objectives. Although there may be some minor difficulties within IT, these are not significant enough to initiate any projects aimed at changing the way IT is managed.”

Spot on! So what to do?

The literature suggests

“Resigning and joining an organization more suited to their enthusiasm and skills, especially if they are passionate about IT Service Management.”

How uplifting.

What if you still believe change can be valuable to your organization and you feel deep within that you can do better? You can of course argue that you should remain silent and do what you´re told by management and that is perhaps the only way at some companies.

But that’s not for me so when I found myself in this situation I decided to do something anyway.

The grass root movement

I was hired to become a configuration manager about 20 months ago. My boss and the other managers didn’t really know what configuration management was but they kind of had this feeling it was important. They really didn’t have much of a clue to what IT Service Management was but had appointed some process managers to “implemented some ITIL-processes”.

The first time I met the management team I was given the chance to present how I was going to develop configuration management. I was asked only two questions, revealing quite a lot;

  • “When can we see the CMDB-tool?”
  • and “What makes you think you can actually make this happen?”

I teamed up with some of my fellow process managers to start discussing how we could develop ITSM together and deliver progress in the value creation we saw possible, if we just got to make some changes to how we do things around here.

With the help of a consultant that we managed to steal from another project we analyzed the current situation from an ITSM perspective showing the level of maturity of our organization bearing on process development.

The analysis with the accompanying recommendations was distributed to middle management through my boss and we got his boss to give us some money for a consultant of our own that could help us better understand what to do and how to do it.

We are now six months into a long and intricate journey of change and at least middle management have begun to show some interest in what we do. It would be unfair to say that they are supportive yet but they have moved from being unconcerned to showing interest.

The point

Don’t quit just because there’s a lack of management support. If you’re passionate about developing ITSM in your organization you can. It takes a long time and the pace is sometimes deadly slow, but my god you get to sharpen many skills in the meantime.

Photo Credit

Stepping Out of The Shadows to Contribute

"Where do I find the answers to my boss’ stupid questions?"

I’m a newbie when it comes to IT Service Management.

Haven’t been around long and don’t have a great deal of experience in this area.

As many of us inexperienced but eager people do, I read blogs, discussion forums, Twitter streams, LinkedIn groups and try to absorb as much valuable information as possible.

And it’s marvelous how people share a great deal of helpful knowledge (as well as a considerable amount of rubbish).

But it has struck me how specialized, narrow and over the top a lot of the discussions are. At least from my point of view.

At first, I thought it was just me not being smart enough. But after a while I kind of realized that most of the people that show up and contribute to the community at all these places really are the cutting edge developers of ITSM.

I like to see myself as the average Joe of ITSM, a practitioner that tries to contribute to my company’s prosperity. I work to change stuff that doesn’t work and I struggle with the day to day challenges that I presume we all deal with at work.

From that point of view, the part of the ITSM community that shows on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and a lot of various blogs don’t offer that much help. I won’t even begin telling you how many debates on details in the ITIL Core books I’ve read the last couple of years, all at very little value to me.

Where’s the information for us who try to juggle things when the consultant leaves the “ITIL implementation project”? Where do I go to find support and encouragement for the stuff that isn’t cutting edge ITSM but every day struggle? Where do I find the answers to my boss’ stupid questions?

The answer is of course in all the channels used by people in the ITSM sphere. That’s where the support and encouragement is and that’s where all the knowledge lives. We just need to drag it out of the people who camp there, because they are all eager to share if given the chance.

It takes some guts to step out of the shadows where we (the common man, those who fear to stick out) lurk about to gain knowledge. But more people ought to. I think the community would gain by having more people in my position asking questions and by all means giving advice on a regular basis. The general opinion is that even we who are less experienced and are short of knowledge are welcome to use the channels for questions and thoughts of simpler sorts and I’ve never been ridiculed or mocked for asking stupid questions.

The bottom line is that I believe that we need to expand the number of people who contribute and that we should do that with the help of lurkers like me. Give it a try, it’s scary at first and you might feel a bit ignored but it will pay off in the long run.

If I can, so can you. And I’ve only just started!