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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

If you're interested in what we're doing here at Pink Elephant, then feel free to post a comment - I'll do my best to respond as quickly as I can.


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    Recent Entries

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    Thoughts On The “New Edition” of ITIL: Update

    A few days ago I posted on this subject.

    Since then I’ve had confirmation that the review of the change log that was done by Pierre Bernard can indeed be made available to anyone. You can find it here, on Pierre’s blog.

    It’s such a shame that many of the “issues” were not eliminated before the original publication of the books, but let’s not cry over spilled milk. What’s important is that things get put right. However the scope of the “Mandate for Change” is a bit too wide for my liking. I’d settle for a single (shorter & simpler?) project of just fixing the errors & inconsistencies.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/30 at 03:39 PM
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    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    14th Annual ITSM Conference Preview


    Even I was impressed when I looked at the new preview announcement for next February’s ITSM Conference in Las Vegas. I have to admit that the musical theme wasn’t my first choice but - I think it works! Look at the preview and decide for yourself!

    No matter what anyone else might say - this is the biggest and the best!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/29 at 04:49 PM
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    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    17 Questions About the ITIL “New Edition” - Kudos to Pierre Bernard!

    My Pink Buddy - Pierre Bernard - has been deeply involved in the ITIL V3 project since the very start.

    First, as a major player in the development of the books themselves, as assistant to George Spalding & Gary Case in writing the CSI book while at the same time providing reviewer feedback on a couple of the other books.

    Then, when it was decided to re-develop the certification scheme to go along with the new books - he was Pink’s representative in helping to shape the scheme. Since then, as a Senior Examiner he’s been busy writing and reviewing exam questions.

    So the announcement last week that V3 is due for a “New Edition” means as much to Pierre as it does to anyone else. As usual with Pierre, he doesn’t do things by halves. So as he started to think about what the “New Edition” project might mean he ended up compiling a list of questions that we probably would all like to hear the answers to. You can see those questions at Pierre’s blog.

    For me, I’m intrigued to know the answers to two of those questions right away - #8 and #9.

    They are:

    When will the “New Edition” be published?

    And how might the exams be affected?

    If you hear the answers before me - please let me know!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/24 at 04:52 PM
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    Monday, September 21, 2009

    ITIL Software Scheme Goes Into Pilot Stage

    You may have already heard about APM Group’s plans to launch an official ITIL software assessment scheme. Today an announcement was made explaining that this scheme is about to enter the “pilot stage”, and potential “Licensed Software Assessors” are invited to contact APM Group.

    At Pink we have had the industry’s only ITIL software assessment scheme for over 10 years - PinkVERIFY. There are plenty of previous posts from me here explaining how PinkVERIFY works and why we do it. (For even more information you’re welcome to view the PinkVERIFY pages on our main website.) So what does APM Group’s announcement mean for Pink, and PinkVERIFY in particular?

    There has certainly been some buzz from industry observers in recent weeks as people tried to understand what APM Group was doing, and why. Why launch a software assessment scheme competitive to PinkVERIFY? The short answer is - it’s not. It’s actually an accreditation scheme where firms like Pink who have an ITIL software assessment service can have their service accredited by APM Group.

    If you’re still not sure how this will work - here’s a very appropriate analogy. What will happen is the same as what happened years ago with training courses. Pink Elephant developed the very first ITIL course in 1992. But soon afterwards other organizations developed their own ITIL courses and the exam bodies made sure that a minimum standard was met for these courses by introducing an accreditation scheme - hence we now have ATOs (Accredited Training Organizations). So if you’re looking for training then chose an ATO and you have some confidence that you’ll be buying a decent product. It’s the exact same thing we have here with the ITIL software assessment scheme. APM Group are providing an accreditation service for anyone who wants to assess software as being ITIL compatible. Meet APM Group’s requirements and you can become an LSA (Licensed Software Assessor). Up until this year, PinkVERIFY has been the only such scheme in existence. But APM Group’s initiative allows for other organizations to develop their own PinkVERIFY-type of service and APM Group will accredit them, ensuring that all such schemes meet at least a minimum acceptable standard.

    So PinkVERIFY is not going away. We have recently been in discussions with APM Group to have Pink, and PinkVERIFY, accredited within this new scheme. There were only a small number of changes we have made to the PinkVERIFY criteria and method - and so we’re ready to go! Going forward, any software product that satisfies the requirements for PinkVERIFY will also qualify for the APM Group’s “ITIL swirl”.

    This is good news for everyone. And we’re very proud and pleased that APM Group has recognized the work that we’d done over the past 10 years with PinkVERIFY - there are currently dozens of products on the PinkVERIFY list. We’re looking forward to working with existing PinkVERIFY vendors to validate that their products qualify to have the “ITIL swirl” added as an additional “badge of approval”. Watch this space for more updates very soon.

    (This post was updated on September 24 to clarify one statement in the penultimate paragraph).

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/21 at 12:48 PM
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    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    Thoughts On The “New Edition” of ITIL

    My PinkBUDDY, Pierre Bernard, has done a deep analysis of the ITIL change log and has identified well over 400 “issues”. He’s further documented them into an Excel spreadsheet highlighting not only what they are, but also which books they pertain to. I am not sure if he is permitted to publish this document publicly, but if anyone is interested I’ll check and see if it can be made available.

    I’ve read on the blogosphere that some cynics believe that ATOs are rubbing their hands together about the revision because it allows them to sell more courses. For anyone who truly believes this - check your naivety. We’ve just spent nearly 2 years developing - and re-developing - a ton of courses in support of this needlessly complex and confusing certification scheme (f you’ve missed what I think of the current ITIL certification scheme, check back in the archives of this blog). The last thing we want is to have to do yet another re-work. It will have to be done, of course, because everything needs to be in alignment. Just a shame these errors and inconsistencies weren’t identified at the outset through a decent QA. Come to think of it - everyone and their dog seemed to be listed in the acknowledgements section of the books - credited with performing various types of review. What the heck were they doing!!

    So, the $64m question has to be - how did a product like ITIL get released with so many imperfections? OK - I don’t expect to hear anyone attempt to answer this because it will mean pointing fingers and assigning blame. I can tell you this, though, if we ever delivered work of this standard to a customer, we would expect to be drawn into compensation discussions fairly quickly.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/20 at 06:58 AM
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    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Room For Another “Path” to ITIL Expert?

    Currently, anyone who has done the ITIL V2 Service Manager can gain their ITIL Expert certification simply by doing the Manager’s Bridge. That means that (apart from any Foundation they might have) they will have to do:

    - Week 1 of the V2 Service Manager program, plus an exam
    - Week 2 of the V2 Service Manager program, plus an exam
    - Week 3 of a V2-V3 Manager’s Bridge, plus an exam

    This is being described by many, including me, as the “quickest, easiest and cheapest way to become an ITIL Expert”.

    However, it’s generally accepted that this “path” will not be available forever, because either:

    - At some point the demand will decrease and the ATOs simply drop it.
    - APMG will “euthanize” it by withdrawing the Manager’s Bridge exams at some point.

    So here’s an idea!

    If it has been acceptable for candidates to achieve ITIL Expert through a series of 3 weeks worth of training and 3 exams – then why not “upgrade” the program and make it all V3? 3 weeks of pure ITIL V3 has to be better than 2 weeks of V2 plus 1 week of V3!

    So once someone has done their V3 Foundation they would then have the option of signing-up for a “V3 Service Manager Program”:

    - Week 1 of training, plus an exam
    - Week 2 of training, plus an exam
    - Week 3 of training, plus an exam

    I haven’t put any thought into the syllabus for each week yet, but it MUST be doable if the 2-week V2 Service Manager plus 1-week V2-V3 Bridge works!

    So, if you really NEED the ITIL Expert certification (for your resume, or whatever) then would this be appealing to you? Please let me know and I’ll pass the idea on to APMG.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/18 at 05:15 AM
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    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Even When You’re Doing All The Right Things - Watch Out!

    Before you buy any other business book - read “The Halo Effect” first.

    I had just written a brief review of “Good To Great” by Jim Collins (see earlier post) when a helpful reader - James Finister - suggested I check out “The Halo Effect”. I’m glad I did. The conversational style is very easy to read. The explanations are totally understandable. The arguments compelling. The conclusions just make sense - there are no quick, easy, one-size-fits-all answers. Good practices -  vision, strategy, leadership, communications, customer focus, execution, etc - are probably all good but they cannot guarantee success. There’s still the impact of things beyond your control - the context for your business. Even luck and the random nature of things.

    The two books I had read immediately before “The Halo Effect” - “Risk” by Dan Gardner and “The Drunkard’s Walk” by Leonard Mlodinow seemed to prep me perfectly for this read. Rosenzweig’s arguments on cause and effect really struck a chord with me because of what I had learned in “Risk” and “The Drunkard’s Walk” (the fact I had also recently read “Good To Great” was a big help too!) Although we all can be suckers for the romantic notion of “being in the right place at the right time”, it’s probably tough to accept that even if you do all the right things - luck, randomness and all the stuff that’s simply beyond your control may well be what determines whether you succeed or fail. If that sounds a bit too doom & gloomish, don’t worry, there is a happy ending - of sorts!

    In conclusion, I was less bothered about Rosenzweig’s revelations on the flawed research of Peters, Kotter, Collins et al, and more interested in Rosenzweig’s own thinking with regard to what makes an organization a high performer. As it turned out - I was inspired. Strategy and execution ARE the chief enablers - and one is likely more important than the other (read the book!) - but don’t forget to keep a close eye on the world around you.

    For those working in ITSM, that means watch out for changes to business strategy that will have a direct impact on you - regardless of how well you’re doing. I’ll give you a for instance - a few years ago Pink worked with a large organization to help them develop and deliver top class support services. They were delighted with the work that we did and the outcomes - for IT and their business. That didn’t stop the business deciding on an outsourcing strategy. It had absolutely nothing to do with the performance of existing functions in IT, let alone IT support. So, just like Rosenzweig says, things beyond your control can determine your future - even when you might be doing all the right things.

    Oh, and one more thing, Rosenzweig explains that there are certain types of business that are more susceptible to volatile outside forces (innovative industries), and some that are more resilient (stable industries). So if you want to increase your chances of success - by all means do all the right things that the gurus tell you, but also make sure you work in retail, consumer goods or government, not in the high tech world!

    Thanks, James, for the recommendation.

    In previous posts I’ve expressed frustration at how some naive souls keep repeating the mantra “run IT like a business”. The conclusions in “The Halo Effect” explain - albeit indirectly - the critical differences between “the business” and an internal department (such as IT). The context for business is NOT the context for IT. You’re overcomplicating internal IT if you think it’s just like a business. We can use some of the same enablers (vision, strategy, leadership, etc) but we’re insulated from the uncertain and uncontrollable world outside the business. It’s tougher to manage a business than to manage IT.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/17 at 02:25 AM
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    ITSM Fashion Tips

    Just noticed that the top trending topic on Twitter is #WhatNotToWear.

    OK, so now I can get these off my chest! I can imagine a few people in the office and in my family who’ll think it’s a real hoot that I’m giving fashion advice, but these have been bugging me for years.

    Men - please - no brown belt and black shoes, or black belt and brown shoes.

    Men - please - no ties with a logo shirt.

    Everyone - please - no socks with sandals! The whole point of sandals is the air - think about it!

    Boys (and some men) - please - underwear goes inside the pants. That’s why it’s called UNDERwear!

    Finally, when you show up at a meeting with Adidas, don’t wear Puma (and vice versa). Believe me, it doesn’t work out too well - I know from personal experience!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/17 at 12:40 AM
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    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Cloud Computing - Implications For ITSM

    I recently posted on the subject of mobile computing & social media and their implications for IT Service Management.

    I’m now thinking that cloud computing also is significant enough to warrant attention in the world of ITSM. So maybe I should deliver a session at the Pink Conference next February to discuss the challenges - and opportunities - for IT Service Management of these relatively new concepts. When I say “relatively new” I mean in the context of ITIL which makes no reference to social media or cloud computing, and little reference to mobile computing.

    After my last post I did get some thoughts from Chris Dancy. Anymore thoughts anyone?

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/15 at 01:29 PM
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    Monday, September 14, 2009

    ITIL V3 To Be Updated - Because of “Service Strategy” (IMHO)

    At the launch of ITIL V3 over 2 years ago is was well stated by the Chief Architect, Sharon Taylor, that “There will be no ITIL V4 - the lifecycle approach will also apply to ITIL itself and therefore we can expect continual improvement rather than a new ITIL”.

    (OK - those are my words - I didn’t actually take stenographic notes when she spoke, but I think I’ve done a fair job of capturing the gist of her message).

    So the “ITIL Mandate For Change” announcement last week makes it official that there’s a formal project to produce a “new edition” (as opposed to a “new version”).

    I just wonder if the true motivation for this is really the last bullet in section 4 - that Service Strategy is what really needs the makeover. Then, if you were going to re-do one of the 5 core volumes it would make sense to do the other “housekeeping” things mentioned in the rest of section 4 too.

    One other point, it appears that the original authors are not to be involved, except as mentors to the “makeover authors”. Hmmmm. Again, is that because a new view is needed for SS and that can only happen with fresh authors?

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/14 at 08:25 PM
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    Q: How Long Does It Take To “Implement ITIL”? A: 14 Billion Years!

    Nice thinking in this article in IT Business Edge by Chandra Callicutt. ITIL is like the Big Bang Theory (the actual Theory, not the TV show) - it replaces chaos with order.

    We all like a good analogy, and this one is as interesting as they get. Let’s hope the “analogy analysts” don’t spoil the fun by arguing about every itsy-bitsy peice of logic.

    So, at last we know, it takes 14 billion years to implement ITIL. Hold on, that’s just so far!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/14 at 07:42 PM
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    Whirlwind Tour of Pakistan Wraps-Up

    Three major cities - Islamabad, Lahore & Karachi - in just 3 days. But now it’s all over.

    Gary Case and I had a very interesting, enjoyable and illuminating time in Pakistan. We visited 2 major customer prospects with our prospective new partner - Trillium Information Security Systems - and then spoke at a special event on Saturday evening produced and hosted by CIO Pakistan,  a CIO Executive Dinner Discussion titled “IT Governance Through IT Service Management”.

    This CIO Pakistan event deserves a special mention. For a number of reasons I was unable to confirm my travel plans until Tuesday mid-morning, Toronto time. Then, what must have been a small army of people immediately sprung into action to actually produce & promote the CIO Pakistan event for the Saturday evening, barely 4 days later! It’s a huge testament to the organizational skills of the Trillium and CIO Pakistan teams that this event was pulled off so successfully (I certainly enjoyed it!) It was put together so quickly that it’s still not mentioned yet in the events section of the CIO Pakistan website! I’m sure we’ll see it there soon as there was a lot of video recording and photography going on all evening (that’s one of my photos - below. Gary being interviewed by CNBC).

    I am very grateful to Mr. Mohsin Sheikh and his team at Trillium for organizing such a productive program for us. Also to Ms. Rabia Garib and her team at CIO Pakistan for their special efforts too. I promised her more advance notice next time - if they’ll have us back.

    I wish I could have stayed on a little longer, for two reasons one professional, and one personal:

    1. Clearly there are a great deal of opportunities for Pink to serve and support the IT market in Pakistan. I just wish I could have met with even more organizations.

    2. I really enjoyed interacting with the many Pakistani people we were introduced to on our trip. Not only did they come across as both highly competent and professional, but the hospitality extended to us was quite humbling.

    We’re already working on next steps for “Pink in Pakistan” - so watch this space!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/14 at 04:47 AM
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    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Copy of Slides Used At The CIO Pakistan Event

    Download a copy of the visual aids used by me and Gary Case at the CIO Pakistan “CIO Executive Dinner Discussion” last night.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/13 at 02:56 PM
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    Friday, September 11, 2009

    Islamabad to Lahore in 4 Hours - By Car

    The countryside was spectacular, so I tried really hard to get some decent pictures out of the car window today. But we were traveling so fast on the highway that they are all too blurry to post. I suspected that might be the case so I started shooting video. But I didn’t get anything too exciting there either because Gary Case was prattling on non-stop about work the whole time.

    Once we’d finished giggling about playing cat & mouse with the Highway Police, just listen to Gary go on and on about training IT consultants. Take a break Gary, we’re in Pakistan for heaven’s sake - look out the window!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/11 at 02:23 PM
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    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Budding ITIL Experts in Pakistan

    Earlier today Gary Case and I arrived here in Islamabad and almost immediately went into a meeting with one of the country’s largest telcos. The talk was more about “IT Governance” than “ITSM/ITIL”. Interesting.

    We then headed off to the office of our prospective new partner here in Pakistan. We were impressed to discover the high degree of professionalism and commitment shown by the consultants.

    At the end of our meeting I just couldn’t resist a group photo (me and Gary in the middle).

    After looking at the back wall it’s no wonder I can’t get the phrases “new ITSM tools”, “employee compliance” and “demand management” out of my head!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/10 at 01:26 PM
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