Monday, 18 November 2013

A Little Less #SMCongress, A Little More Action Please.

You might have missed the fun and games around #SMCongress. Rob has summed up the skeptical perspective on it rather well  and I've already had my chance to quiz some of those who were in the room on a  podcast.

So I wasn't planning to make any specific posts on it.

After all being specific seems to be the one thing SM Congress isn't about. Yet.

Now before we go any further let me declare an interest. I had a an invite to attend Fusion as a member of the itSMF USA RevNet sessions that produced the concept of SM Congress. I know my thinking is usually aligned with most of the people who were there and that there isn't much that came out of it that I would probably have disagreed with - apart from ditching the hideous Universal Declaration of Digital Rights, which is a fail on so many counts.

The reason I couldn't take up the invite to attend was because I was busy  in the real world that pays the bills and keeps the lights on. That real world is a very interesting place at the moment as organisations ready themselves to come out of recession. Many aspects of received ITSM wisdom will I'm sure be reevaluated  as a result. The shift to align ITSM with the Agile manifesto, as SM Congress suggests, will be an interesting challenge. It is one we have long ago come to terms with in TCS, which is why my SIAM team is part of the same practice as our Agile team.

But it is a real world challenge, and needs critical thinking, careful presentation and new tools if it is to be successful. You don't just bolt on agile thinking to existing models and mindsets.

If there really is a brave new world then it has to be packaged and sold to multiple stakeholders with hard facts concrete solutions and practical help. Above all else it has to be aligned with their pre-existing objectives and agendas. That doesn't mean sustain the status quo for the sake of it but it does mean the solution has to fit the problem, not the other way around.

The constant retweeting of self congratulatory messages about how, with 170 on line signatories, this is the biggest thing ever in ITSM is a self destructive behaviour on so many levels that opens the whole movement up to ridicule unless matched by actions. Lets put this into perspective. there are over 2 million  people with ITIL qualifications. The Back2ITSM Facebook group has over 700. Most of the attendees at the RevNet workshop have over a 1000 twitter followers each.

Most worrying for me about this kind of messaging is the underlying sub-text that there is some kind of competition, and that somewhere out there is an opposition that needs to be revolted against. I have enough respect for the majority of people who were in the room to think that they are neither so naive as to think there really is such an enemy, nor so politically manipulative as to want to create one. However the history of revolutions is not a happy one and I highly recommend a little light reading  Another cautionary tale about power politics from an Irish perspective can be found here .

There is a reality though that we probably do need to face up to. We like to talk about the ITSM community as if it is a homogeneous group. I've railed in the past about the perception of them and us divisions . It is silly though to expect that we will all align all the time. Different geographies, different scales of organisation, different specialists that fall under the ITSM banner and different levels of management all need to make ITSM work for them in specific ways within a more universal framework.

The ITSM SocMed world doesn't have to act as one, and we should not expect the entire ITSM SocMed world to share all the same cultural norms.  That requires respect for how those other cultures prefer to work and think and an understanding of their requirements. Much of the initial  noise around SM Congress can be traced to this, particularly given how passionate and committed members of the community are, and how independently minded some of them are.

If people didn't care they wouldn't care.

So what does SM Congress need to do?

Thankfully a lot of effort is going into sharing the message at other conferences, such as the itSMF UK and Estonia conferences and this needs to continue if it is to succeed.

In Europe there is very limited interest in conceptual models so if SM Congress is going to have any impact on this side of the Atlantic it needs a road map and to articulate the benefits for both organisations and individuals, as AXELOS is beginning to do.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is to prove that this time things will be different and to highlight real successes that come out of the initiative.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A Flying Visit to ITSM 13

This year the TCS speaking slots at the itSMF UK conference were in the capable hands of my colleagues Martin Goble, Andrea Kis and Martin Neville so I thought my attendance would be overkill.

However at the last minute I decided to pop in, primarily to hear the latest updates from AXELOS update. Oh yes, and for the gala dinner.

Since it was a very quick visit my impressions are just that, and not an in depth analysis of the event.

First of all I think the move to Birmingham is a good idea. Those of us who attended the SDI conference back in June will know that Birmingham is a lively place and the ICC is right in the middle of things.

Also familiar to visitors earlier in the year would be the helpfulness and friendliness of staff at the venue which wasn't always the case in Hammersmith.

Personally I found the exhibition space a big improvement with much more space for mingling and chatting. Having said that none of the exhibitors I spoke to claimed to have been rushed off their feet with the number of visitors. I also noticed that a lot of visitors weren't making much effort to talk to their fellow delegates. This for me remains the big contrast between the itSMF conference and the other shows we attend.

A good number of people turned up for the AXELOS  update. Whilst they continue to make all the right noises in terms of intentions I'm afraid a lot of people are echoing Aale Roos' concern that the newly announced maturity assessment appears very old fashioned and cumbersome and very far from what we would consider current good practice.

It is tempting at this point to talk about how the SM Congress that arose out of Fusion 13 in Nashville was being talked about, but to be honest I think Rob England's post  from the other side of the world mirrors the general response. Incidentally we did an ITSM RoW podcast to discuss the SM Congress with Charles Araujo. Click on that link and you'll see we are moving the podcasts to become hangouts.

The only other part of the event I can comment on is the dinner, which was as enjoyable as ever with great company.

And that brings me to the absolute highlight for myself and several others which was that this year's Paul Rappaport Award for Outstanding Contribution to ITSM was awarded to Stuart Rance. I know from working with Stuart both on the Back2ITSM initiative and in the AXELOS workshops just how well deserved that award is.

Finally a big thank you to Ben Clacy and the itSMF team for making it all happen. As most of you will probably know Ben is moving on to a new challenge and I would just like to record how much I've appreciated the changes he has made to the itSMF during his tenure.