The ABC Of ICT - The Top 10 People Issues

In my recent blog on the top 50 ITIL adoption mistakes many related to the people-side of changing the IT service management (ITSM) and IT delivery status quo. In many ways, people are the ultimate barrier (or success factor) to effective ITIL adoption or to other aspects of an IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organization successfully meeting business demands for IT services.

We often get the technology and process elements of what we do in I&O right, but the people-side of things can be a different matter. Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks has been a champion for addressing the ABC (attitude, behavior, and culture) of ICT for many years and he shares his (and his colleagues) thoughts with us below.

So what goes wrong?

As more and more organizations adopt ITSM frameworks such as ITIL, it often seems that ITIL or the framework is the goal itself, rather than being a means to an end – that is trying to improve the delivery of IT services from a business perspective.

Paul states that, in his experience, 70% of ITIL-adoption initiatives fail to deliver on their promises, i.e., realizing the value that the I&O organization (and business) had hoped for; with 50% of failures caused by resistance. However, we (the people) tend to blame the framework or the technology. But it often has nothing to do with ITIL – the root cause is commonly the way in which we (mis) apply and (mis) use the framework. That these failures are often down to people issues.

Paul and his colleagues believe that the “ABC of ICT” is the number one critical success or failure factor for making ITSM work. He adds that our current approaches to training and consulting aren’t working. That something else is needed. That ITIL’s concept of People, Process, Technology (or in terms of ITIL 2011: People, Process, Product, Partners) does not stress the emphasis on people enough. It should be People, Process, People, Product, People, Partner, People. It might labor the point a little but consider this, it is:

  • People who design processes to be used by people
  • People who design products to support and enable  people performing the processes
  • Products are only there to support people in making decisions, sharing knowledge, and managing IT (for the people in the business)
  • People who manage partners who are made up of people.

As Rob England, otherwise known as the IT Skeptic, wrote in his book Basic Service Management“Services are delivered by people for people to people.” 

To try and get the ABC message across Paul uses the age-old iceberg analogy. He admits that it is clichéd but makes no apologies – people need to see all of the people-related stuff hidden out of sight below the waterline. We don’t talk about it, we ignore it, and we hope that it will go away. But that Iceberg is capable of stopping your ITSM improvement initiative dead in its tracks or sending it off on a totally different direction if not identified and addressed as a risk.  

So let’s start to make the ITSM iceberg visible – address the Top 10 resistance areas

If we can see it we can talk about it, discuss it, and take decisions about what to do. GamingWorks, together with the itSMF and its world-wide partner network, has surveyed more than 3,000 IT organizations over the years. With one of the areas researched the Top 10 types of resistance to ITIL – the reasons why organizations fail to realize the hoped-for benefits from an investment in ITIL-focused change. So here is Paul’s iceberg: 

  1. No management commitment.
  2. Saying 'Yes', but meaning 'No'.
  3. “Never mind about following the new procedures just do what we normally do.”
  4. Plan, Do, Stop ... No continual improvement focus.
  5. ITIL is the objective not what we should achieve with it.
  6. “ITIL – it will never work here.”
  7. Unable to specify the value required by the business.
  8. Throwing (ITIL) solutions over the wall and hoping that people will follow them.
  9. No understanding of business impact and priority.
  10. I&O thinks that it doesn't need to understand the business to make a business case.  

It might appear a negative list but Paul and colleagues have been presenting such lists for over ten years now, and the iceberg has changed very little in this time. Paul says that we need to share knowledge and practices better as espoused by the Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community thinking.

So let’s start gathering the practical experience that counts and sharing it. If you’ve got something you want to share about how to deal with such issues then write an article, a blog, or submit a presentation proposal at your local itSMF. Take personal responsibility for taking ITSM to the next level.

If you like where Paul is going with this, he will return with an ABC of ICT Top 10 critical success factors list in the near future. 

Update: The Top 10 People Success Factors ...


UPDATE #2: Two popular ITIL-related blogs:

Please check out my latest blog ...


Stephen, thanks for raising

Stephen, thanks for raising awareness to ABC of ICT. I was inspired by your call to giving back to the ITSM community. I will be sharing the top 10 success factors according to the industry experts who contributed to the ABC of ICT An Introduction publication. I have also mailed a number of organizations who I know to be actively using and solving ABC issues and have asked them to share their experiences, tips and best practices for solving these people related issues.
Cheers, keep up the good work.

It is the People

Thanks for the mention. I was working on a book He Tangata: People in IT, (the name is from an old Maori saying, see it here Three years ago when I conceived the book it was near the leading edge but the work of Paul and others has finally raised awareness of the primary importance of the people aspects, to the point that I fear the book will be redundant before I ever get it writ. Especially at this rate.

Anyway, another epithet I like to use is:
Good people will deal with bad process - in fact they'll fix it. And good process can work around bad technology (and identify requirements).
But new technology won't fix process. And improved process won't change people.
So fix the people. ["...with ABC" says Paul from the wings]

Holistic approach required

thanks for paying attention to this - it's definitely a step on the right track. But it has the same risk of unbalance as any of the traditional approaches.

If you would think "Great, let's follow ABC and now all problems will be solved", you'll make a big mistake. History has shown that people often tend to run away from their problems. This is currently happening in the Netherlands where people turn to "Rijnland" approaches and turn away from "Anglo-Saxon" aproaches. But they will only meet a new format of the same old problem.... It's obvious that failing ITSM projects are "a problem". But running away from these old problems and turning to ABC as a panacee... as usual, that will not work.

As you and Paul both confirm, a successful and lasting approach to ITSM will only succeed if it addresses PPT or PPPP, or even PPPPPPP (as Paul suggested). In other words, if it follows a holistic approach. Traditional "ITIL implementations" have always failed to meet their targets, because they largely ignored one or more of the P's. Btw - I think the percentage of failing projects is considerably higher than 70%. Given the fact that there must have been tens of thousands of "ITIL implementations", there should be a lot of articles available illustrating the measured benefits of these projects. But where are those articles?

I think it is crucial to pay a lot of attention to the people factor as Paul illustrates with ABC, but you should not ignore the other two P's - or you will fail like all others. The IT industry is an extremely fast changing domain, and IT providers have long followed the strategy of bringing the latest fashion to the ever demanding customer. In the mean time, they failed to develop their management kills. The result is a technology-focused landscape, where providers (internal as well as external) have reached a maturity level of 1 or 2 on a scale of 5. This will not change if they would now "jump to ABC".

My advise would be: learn as much as you can from Paul's ABC approach - it will benefit all of our projects; but do not forget the Process and the Product dimensions because they will be required to give your ABC-fed progress a lasting effect. The only approach that will bring you this lasting success is the approach that delivers improved organizational performance - which always requires all three company assets: People, Process, Product.

If you manage to integrate these three Ps, you have a chance of getting the best from historical lessons *and* from the ABC approach. The Dutch have pulled that off: a fast growing number of Dutch companies are now using a standardized method for setting up their ITSM organization. ABC products like the Apollo 13 game are often used in this "ISM method", which largely focuses on the people factor (all of the ABC components). The other two P's are not ignored; they are highly standardized because that's what history has tought us: all ITSM organizations have identical processes, they only differ in their organization and in their technology and therefor in their procedures and work instructions. They use different products - but all of these products always should deliver the same functionality, so they can be standardized as well.

All of these organizations differ in culture, so the People factor should be given a prominent position in your holistic project. Using that approach finally gives you the opportunity to focus on ABC issues - as fast as possible.

Switzerland experience: ABC is the critical success factor 4 IT

We have adopted and have been using ABC as part of our ITIL Foundation training to help create awareness for the need to address the people issues. We also conduct the exercise to capture the top types of resistance experienced in Swiss companies. Using the exercises helps us to create a dialogue and share insights, experiences and tips from the delegates on how to deal with these issues. For many the ABC is an eye-opener.

The top 3 resistance cards we have so far experienced in Switzerland are:
1.No management commitment.
2.ITIL is the objective not what we should achieve with it
3.Saying 'Yes', but meaning 'No'.

We will be working together with customer organizations to capture case studies and have them presented at the Swiss ITSM conferences next year (

thanks to Paul and his team to help us open our closed eyes.

to chage or not to change ...

Things are changing every day, every moment, but most of us like to find a comfortable place, the safe corner of the house were our dog rests
Why things have to change and why should I leave that way of doing things?
It should be a good reason for doing that: people interests and expectations are there and we should try to understand them in order to help them finding/building WIIFM (what is in for me)
ABC of ICT is an amazing tool for approaching organization and people complexity playing, enjoying a game session, discovering what´s happening and introducing what has to be done.
Once you get a deeper knowledge there are a lot of things to do.
Without top management sponsorship forget to get results
But even with it, a lot of work has to be done: evangelization, communication, workshops, "talk" and "coach" individuals ... this is the moment that consultant experience and personal skills count on
Adopting ITIL ITSM framework is not like a “project”: it should change the way we do our job. And most of the time we will be working in real time: we will be working with most of the people that are delivering services.
It´s an amazing trip and you have to sell all tickets and have all on board
Thank you all guys for the opportunity to leave my comments.

Changing behaviours one step at a time...

Thanks Stephen for focusing in this important topic. I have been working with Paul for a long time, and we always talk about the people aspect. And everyone nods their heads and agrees, turns away and blames the tool and the process.... But we see people getting it...
I always say: It is easier to eliminate a worst practice, than it is to implement a best practice (Paul Wilkinson)

We have introduced the ABC of ICT in our ITIL Foundation courses (about 3 years ago). It is interesting to see the results of that. Especially if we run multiple classes at one customer, the same behaviours are selected every single time. Which is of course a great way to address that behaviour with the customers. For each of the top 10 selected ABCs we have tips to address it. But it remains difficult for a lot of people to accept it.

One trick I used with one customer:
Every time a certain behaviour was displayed by the members of the project team (in this case Not My Responsibility) I would put that card on the table. This would open up the discussion about how to solve it. It is a simple and easy way, but it forces the team to address it.

Changing behaviours one step at a time...

the framework is not the goal

I guess we all believe frameworks are not the goal, and also believe the importance of people. I have also using Paul's ABCs cards in my class at the university. Theory is easy to understand and tell, but as always difficult to implement.

We all believe people is the key, but the same people work as stopers in companies. I've seeing that many managers trying to implement ABC and workers stoping this initiatives.

Maybe we need an ABC book for Managers, one for workers and one for Directors. So Paul, you have 2 new projects.

We're not saying ABC is the

We're not saying ABC is the magic pixie dust nor that People are the only issue. The point is that - in order to be holistic - one must include People considerations, which organisations too often don't.

When I hear the People Process Technology mantra or the PPPP one, I add " that order". In that order of priority, and in that order of starting execution.

Give People priority. If a few more projects spent a third or more of their time, effort and money on People aspects (consultation, collaboration, walkthroughs, training, pilots, training, coaching, training, support, feedback...) instead of Technology and ITIL consultants, we might have some more successful ITSM implementations.

Start with the People. Standard Kotter: get a sense of urgency, and a guiding coalition. Start consulting and collaborating in order to get cultural change momentum going. Let the people who know be the ones who guide process improvement. (If a few more managers would realise their role is deciding not telling, and they should just STFU and listen to their staff, then even more ITSM implementations might be successful).

Wrong order

When people run away from the unsolved domain of Product or especially Process, and jump to People in order to expect to find their solution, they make the usual mistake of the last two decades.
When they do so, and say "people first, and then all the rest", they fall into the usual pitfall of unbalanced non-holistic approaches. People first? No way. Stay with your sense of logic. What would you do if you had to create an organization from scratch? Would you start by just picking a couple of people and then teach them what to do, or would your first define WHAT your staff would need to do and then find the best people?
And on Product: isn't it obvious that you would first need to know WHAT you need to have done, then select WHO will be hired to do it, and then give them the TOOLS they seem to require?
Improving an existing organization should follow the same approach, with the difference that you can skip what doesn't require attention because it's already in place.
I understand that many organizations have tried starting with that tool (the Product) and subsequently failed to create their identity. But if you now jump to People before you've taken care of the Process dimension, you're only making the same mistake. Successful approaches have illustrated the need of a holistic approach, covering all three Ps in a balanced way. Any improvement then also needs to cover all three Ps.

Dutch organizations that have followed this balanced approach, have now been able to get much better results in shorter time against lower costs, then with any of the alternative unbalanced single-focus approaches. The essence is that they haven't fled from their unsolved problems, but attacked these in a holistic approach, covering all three Ps at the required level of maturity.

I understand that it's the easy escape, jumping to ABC, and I absolutely confirm that ABC is essential, but it will only be effective in a lasting way if you also address the other two Ps in a holistic apporach.

dismissal of the People aspect

Jan, I've never vigorously disagreed with you before I think but I do here. Your dismissal of the People aspect as "the easy way" shows we are not understanding each other somewhere. The People aspects are by far the hardest. I grow tired of "binder chuckers" dumping ring-binders full of process and fleeing with them un-implemented. The true test of a process implementation is: are the processes still fully and accurately in use and being continually improved two years later? Not many can pass that test. I sometimes call myself "The ITIL Archaeologist" because my first task at any client engagement is to dig out the dust-covered relics of the last guy who tried. Why? Because they told people the new process, gave them some token training and left them to it.

if you don't have an enthusiastic band of supporters, and if you dont have all the staff engaged at some level, then good luck accurately determining current process. And you haven't a hope of finding out what staff think are the greatest problems and the best solutions. And you don't have a snowflake's chance in hell of getting them to buy in to your improvements and adopt them into their day jobs. they may pretend for a while, but they will soon abandon or white-ant improvements.

This whole Ten Commandments style of process implementation has to stop. Staff need a say in what the changes are, their energies to make it happen, and their ongoing commitment to keep it that way. "Build it and thye will come' doesn't work.

So yes of course we start with building people-energy, and yes of course we give primary attention to culture. Process design is a doddle by comparison.

Processes are not interesting

Sure Rob, People are important. But if they don't know WHAT to do, then how can you make sure they're going in the right direction? Ergo, process comes first, whether explicit or implicit, your people need to know what they should do before they can be coached in doing that the right way.
I see a lot of people jumping away from this process domain without having solved it to a basic level. They then jump to people and they WILL fail. Same thing as when they jumped to Tools. We all know the saying "a fool with a tool..." but the same goes for "a fool with a focus on only people...".
I do not deny the importance of people focus, in no way as I said before, but if that means that you ignore the failed domain of process management, it's just the old story repeating itself. In projects I am involved in, we indeed focus on people change, but only (!!!) after we have brought the process and product dimensions to the required basic levels. Other than the traditional approach, we do not do this by means of involving all IT staff, and ending up in a time-consuming dead alley of discussions-with-no-end. We simply apply the standard configuration that they would have ended up with, if they would have done a good job - which often would not have been the case at all. So, after a super-short installation phase of 13 weeks, we spend 9-15 months only on coaching this people change.
So you see Rob - we do agree, I think, but we still use the holistic approach and we don't leave loose ends that cause the regular fall-back to the old situation, leaving the company with the cost of a failed project.

We agree on a holistic

We agree on a holistic approach. We don't agree on importance or order of starting (note: not order of executing -all three areas must happen in parallel).

It strikes me as patronising to be telling the people who work somewhere what they have to do. And it will strike them as equally patronising. the only effective way to get people to buy in to change is to consult them on what they know and what they see as effective solutions. The consultants role is to guide and to inject knowledge and experience. To assume we know what is best for them before we even meet them or ask them is to fail. And to present them with solutions that they haven't had a role in shaping is to have them rejected.

Old practice

Rob, you just described one of the main fail factors of ITIL implementation projects. Assuming that IT staff are experts in designing processes is one of the main causes of project failure. IT organizations are champions of discussion cultures. Not effective. Not efficient. Old culture. It's high time we understand that Process is a commodity, and we indeed need to focus on People asap -but not before we've made sure that this commodity indeed is delivered as it should be.

ABC symptoms and ABC solutions

Much of what I have read for the experts and friends who have contributed here (and the feedback we get in our ABC exercises) is that we are exposing the people problem symptoms with ABC, and not providing solutions to those problems. What makes things like LEAN, TOC, and ITSM work is there is a clear Goal and a commitment by the people to achieve it. Rob is correct. Kotter gives us the signposts. The change requires a Leader (defined as the one chosen and accepted by the led - Matsushita in Kotter's case) and a guiding coalition who can articulate the goal and pull people to commit themselves and make their way to the overarching organizational goal. Organizational optimization, not local optimization. ADKAR is one of many ways to change individuals AND the organization as a result. It takes a lot of personal relationship building, communication and team work - not usually strong suits in an IT person promoted into management on the basis of their technical performance. Therein lie the ABC solution opportunities.

Viral Change

Great contributions to this thread. My opinion:

The ABC card deck is indeed a great tool for finding some of the behaviours, attitude or even cultural issues that apply to an organization or to our industry in general. Again it is a tool. Don't expect miracles from it. The nice thing is it opens the discussion.

Lot of people use Kotter as an example on how we should do it, but in my opinion this is still a 30000 feet level approach. Although sound advice it is not what gets you to a resolution. Any slide that mentions the 8 steps of Kotter in my opinion has very little value. It will not get the change you are looking for.

What works better (but again my opinion), is the concept of viral change. Get the right people in the organization to change, by eliminating worst practices one at a time, and make that a viral concept. Most organizations that have been successful with managing change, have done exactly that. Get the right people on board (in Kotter terms the guiding coalition, to a certain extent). A leader is not necessary on the management level, but someone that is willing to show that certain behaviour is not the right behaviour. and stand for that. People will follow those people

We see how behaviour changes through social media, an example of viral change. More information on this can be found in the book Viral Change from Leandro Herrero

In our ITSM work we use different approaches, different tactics based on our experience. We use what is necessary to make an organization successful. I don't care what framework we use, for the people or process side. All of them together make the difference.

Why have people like Paul for so long hammered on the people component, because most projects forget that, or do not spend enough time on it. He build a great approach to get it out in the open, now let's use that improve. Whatever way we can. There will be a thousand different ways to use it...

Chickens and eggs


Another ITIL chicken-and-egg debate about what came first - the people or the process. The internet is full of these kinds of conversations about ITIL. I often wonder what it will take to make them stop. I doubt they will.

Both sides have merit. The truly skillful ITSM practitioner/consultant will achieve the right balance of being able to advise people of a business possibility, in a manner that won't come off as patronizing. In my consulting experience, businesses pay good money - precisely for the reason that someone can come in and tell people what to do. It's the way the business world works.

At the end of the day, people that scramble to look up their books of knowledge in order to get the right terminology for a the right business process turn into robots....and where's the fun in that?

Holistic Rod

Accept the culture

I have been using the ABC cards as after-lunch exercise and entertainment. I think they are useful but not the solution to failing improvement projects.

Unfortunately some people seem to have misunderstood the ABC approach. Company culture eats CEO's, no ITSM project will have any effect on it. Changing attitudes is as easy as it is to convert a ManU fan to a Aston Villa supporter.

What we can change is behaviour and it is not so hard if the new model makes sense. You need to show people a better way to work.

Who is WE?

ABC is hot, but what about the solutions? Yes, we need to focus on PEOPLE, but who is WE?

When Paul and I wrote the ABC book and designed the Cards, we delivered 100+ simulations all around the world. We were invited into board rooms, computer departments. We worked with process managers, IT manager and we discovered who is WE..... it's the manager on the first place.

We don't see managers leading their teams, that are not showing desirable behavior themselves, they are not standing up and give clear instructions or facilitate processes to improve the process. You know why?

Because all competence development exercises were skipped from the ITSM training programs. Training programs are focussing on theory. If you study Kirkpatrick, he defined 4 levels of learning evaluation (simple explanation):

Level 1 : was it a good, nice, pleasant training?
Level 2 : did you pass the exam?

Till this level we recognize the training programs.... and the evaluation forms at the end of the training?

Level 3 : does the student behave differently in his day to day work

Oepss, i have to apply what i learned? YES, THAT'S WHY YOUR MANAGER SPEND MONEY ON YOU!!!

Level 4 : my company benefits from my new behavior, we call this BUSINESS RESULTS


On level 3 and 4 we observed a lack of evaluations. And more important a lack of focus... not many managers know how to work on these levels. I think a manager should understand that it is his responsibility is to increase BUSINESS RESULTS by developing the behaviors of his teams (level 3). NOT to reward an employe with 50 euro's because of his certificate.

Ok, let go back to where it started.

We should train our managers and process manager in how to increase the performance of our people. We need to coach them, help them. Talk about training, challenge them in using the new gained knowledge, find new projects, ask what did you learn etc. And we need to make managers aware that they should demonstrate the right example.

I had a (real) manager facilitating an Apollo13 together with me. I played the Crew, he was Flight Director. I 'damaged' the team as CREW, i ask questions about the status of calls, i ask when i could get an answer....... the team was confused and said "You are not a realistic customer" ?????? (WHAT?). Ok. I asked the flight director to take 30 minutes to improve the performance of his team. After 10 minutes staring at me he said "HOW...?"

You see, it's just a game, but this guy earns 7K a month!

So i would say: Train managers (both line and process) in skills to facilitated their teams. Show desirable behaviors, support people and coach people. Train managers how to create Business Results by using clever ways of learning, like action learning, coaching and of course use Business Simulations to combine all skills like knowledge, behaviors and attitudes in a one day interactive workshop to make all employees aware how to create results.

Jan Schilt | CO-Owner of GamingWorks | CO creator of the ABC of ICT | business partner of Paul ;-)

I believe this is the

I believe this is the elephant in the room of people improvement: unskilled and downright incompetent managers. I've seen enough to believe it is a world-wide problem. There aren't enough good managers and we don't build them.

Still - it's all about the managers

Indeed Rob, a world-wide problem. It's not about the tools. There is no perfect tool, and most of them are good enough. It's not about the process: processes are a commodity and the same for all IT organizations. It's about the people. And first of all about the managers.
So we have to focus on "management". And that is a tough road, because in most cases managers in IT are not managers at all. They were excellent IT experts, and they have therefor been promoted to managers.
That 's where it went wrong. And now we have to fix that. And we can.

But success only comes with a balanced approach, and process always is the first dimension to be defined, by definition. If you ignore that, you're doomed to fail, as so many have done before you.

ABC - more than a card set!!!!

First of all I'd like to thank Steven for starting this discussion. There are some interesting differences in opinion and some sound guidance for dealing with people related issues. However......
It disappoints me that ABC is seen simply as a card set, and something to make the problems visible. The card set wasn’ t the point of ABC! The ‘ABC of ICT – an Introduction’ book is the fundament of the ABC of ICT concept. It contains practical, pragmatic, proven approaches , tips, and building blocks people can use to SOLVE the findings from the card exercises. It contains cases from more than 30 Industry experts on how to deal with ABC. The 5 P’s (People, Process, Product, Partner, Performance) is one of the fundamental building block in ABC, there are suggestions for dealing with resistance, for gaining management commitment, for identifying the actions and responsibilities for managers for adopting and using consequence management. The tips represented the experience and findings of litetrally hundreds of ITSM improvement initiatives.
The card set was in the top 10 best sellers of van Haren publishing and sold world-wide, but people don’t read the book that goes with it!!!! It seems to support my belief that we are still very instrumental in our approaches. One of the top chosen ABC worst practices is ‘ITIL is the goal not what you do with it’. It seems that this is equally applicable to ABC ‘ABC is the goal not what you do with it!’. It seems people buy the cards sets, do some exercises, identify some pain, have some fun and then carry on as normal with their ITSM ‘implementation’ blueprints.
This instrumental approach can also be confirmed by the following. When I ask (so far to more than 3000 IT people at itSMF conferences) ‘How many of you are ‘doing ITIL!?’ about 85% of the hands go up. I then ask ‘How many of you have read Planning to Implement Service Management’ about 3% of hands go up. Why should people read what is probably the most important guidance ‘how to successfully deploy it’ when this isn’t required to pass an ITIL Expert!!! People would much rather have the certificate than learn how to use the ITIL framework in a sensible and effective way. People then buy a pack of ABC cards, but don’t read the ABC book which in fact compliments and supports Planning to implement. These books both give the guidance necessary for dealing with the issues identified by using the cards. Is it any wonder so many organizations are struggling with getting ITSM to work if they don't use the guidance provided.
I also want to say that I strongly disagree about the comment above about changing attitude. I will give two examples. We did 25 Apollo with a large Government organization the CIO said the last session was the ‘No hopers’, ‘the resisters’, ‘the technical experts and heros’ who thought ITIL was a total waste of time. We started the session by asking them what they wanted to get from the session. All 15 attendees said ‘This will be a waste of time and I don’t expect to get anything’. They then learnt the pragmatic way of applying the 5 P’s. At the end of the session they ALL ‘Got-it’, they all bought into how ITIL wasn’t all about bureaucracy, how THEY could build their OWN processes using ITIL simply as a reference or guidance, how THEY could agree their OWN tasks, roles and responsibilities, how THEY could use the products and tools to support THEIR work and how this all contributes to results and PERFORMANCE. They all became actively engaged. A change in Attitude, which resulted in ownership for a change in behavior.
Another example I used to be an It shift manager. The operators were not customer or user focused and were poor at capturing and sharing knowledge. I brought a User into the computer room (flew one in from the oil rigs, covered in oil and sweat) who then explained the pain, suffering and loss of business value caused by IT outages. This changed the attitudes of the operations team who then made an amazing shift in their behavior, embracing Kotters concept of ‘A sense of urgency’ or ‘what’s in it for me helps’. People generally don’t like to change, they must see and feel a need to change or see some benefit for themselves. Each set of stakeholders from employees to managers will have a different set of drivers for change.
In the next blog I will be sharing the critical success factors taken from the ABC case studies from Industry experts AND I will be sharing the critical success factors as identified by more than 2000 organizations who took part in the Apollo simulation. Lets follow Stevens call to action and share tips and best practices for making ITSM work and dealing with the people side of things.


Private joke


My attitude comment was a private joke, you might be surprised how easy it would be to change my attitudes on football teams. Just get me tickets to your favorite teams game and I will support them. Aston Villa just happens to be the last team I have traveled to see.

I completely agree that it is a good practice to get IT people to understand their customers situation and that can change behavior, specially if they are ignorant. It is much harder if they have been working together for 20 years and don't like each other.

ABC of ICT points to fundamental problem

Maybe I'm missing something...

Every technology problem I've ever been asked to address has been, at it's core, a people problem NOT a technology problem. The first step is recognition. The challenge is created by looking for a quick fix -- a technology, tool, process, or related fix to a systemic problem. ABC us important, critically so. But attitudes reflect belief and that's the source of much of the challenges associated with the "Top 10" and the "Top 50."

The critically important aspect of the ABC of ICT book, at least for me, is that people are at the center of the problem. But it's more, it's not people, per se, but their core beliefs that contribute to the attitudes documented in the book. The IT-centric, inside-out view of ICT is a part of the DNA of technology.

More than 35 years year ago, Peter F Drucker wrote, "There is only one valid definition of the business purpose: to create a customer." (Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, 1974 Harper & Row, paperback version published in 1993 by Harper). The fundamental lesson IT still needs to learn is that ultimately it has to participate in that purpose: to create and retain customers. It's not about the technology, it's not about the processes, it's not about tools, etc. It is about a fundamental shift in the technology mindset that starts with a very simple questions:

What should we do? Why should we do it? What is the customer value proposition (aka business outcomes IT can/should facilitate)?

The questions are simple and easy, it's the answers that are much harder. The ABC of ICT book, workbook, and card-set clearly start the conversation (witness the comments here :-)), but that brings focus to the questions. The answers are harder...

It starts with changing curriculum in the various technology courses to think about the strategic issues (why are we doing this, what is the value to the customer/user, etc...). Yes, students need to understand the tools, techniques, languages, technology, but the missing element is a business context. Note: it's not just the technology courses that need "adjustment" :-) The business courses need to change, too -- but I suspect that's a conversation for another day.

It's all too easy to focus on the symptom or tool versus the underlying cause. The ABC of ICT isn't a cause and really is about more, much more, than the individual cards. Most organizations represent a complex system. You can't fix problems inherent in the system piecemeal or in isolation. The value of the ABC of ICT is similar to the value of ITIL. Neither one is really about the title of the book(s). the ABC of ICT addresses real challenges. The goal isn't to deal with spot-fixes in ABC. ITIL isn't about ITIL, it describes a possible path to IT service management. It's about building the specialized organization capabilities, developed over time like organizational maturity (in the CMMi sense) that provide value to customers in the form of services. Ultimately, (borrowing from Sammy Cahn :-)), "You can't have one without the other."