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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

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    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Extreme Leadership Lessons From Gregory Peck

    Over the past few years I have written and talked a lot about leadership in IT service management. And it’s often been helpful to refer to general leadership examples elsewhere in society to illustrate such critical factors as communication, goal setting, integrity, empowerment, etc.

    A few years ago I led a series of workshops at Pink events where we used the movie “The Guns of Navarone” to highlight the 8 step process for leading change that Professor John P. Kotter discuses in his leadership books. (To be perfectly honest, this workshop was originally developed by my good Pink buddies at the time - Jose Stijntjes, now with itSMF NL, and Paul Wilkinson, now with GamingWorks).

    We all love a good adventure movie, especially the ones based on a big “project”. Some of my favourites being “The Magnificent Seven”, “The Great Escape” and “Indiana Jones”, but there was something quite special about “The Guns of Navarone”. It almost seemed like it had been scripted in order to fit Kotter’s teachings. How very convenient!

    Well, a little while ago I heard about another special movie that teaches us many of these timeless key leadership principles. And last weekend I had the chance to watch it. As with “The Guns of Navarone” the leading character in “12 O’Clock High” is played by Gregory Peck. I actually found “12 O’Clock High” to be a much more interesting movie. It doesn’t have the glamour of any of the other movies I just mentioned, but it does have a most powerful, engaging and emotional storyline along with the valuable leadership messages. I’ve since learned that even though it was shot in 1949, it is still required viewing in many of the US services officer training schools and colleges. Timeless indeed!

    To justify what I mean by “Extreme Leadership ...” here’s what Gregory Peck had to say to his men ...

    ” ... Stop making plans. Forget about going home. Consider yourselves dead. Once you accept that idea it won’t be so tough.”

    Extreme indeed! You can watch a longer version of the speech in this video clip ...

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/26 at 05:47 PM
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    Monday, February 25, 2013

    Fatima’s Welcome Remarks From Pink13!

    This year everyone attending Pink13 - Pink Elephant’s 17th Annual International ITSM Conference & Exhibition - were welcomed by Pink’s CEO, Fatima Cabral Ratcliffe.

    Here’s what she had to say .....


    On behalf of everyone here at Pink Elephant, it is my pleasure to welcome you to Pink13 - our 17th conference.

    We are so very proud that this is the largest gathering of IT Service Management professionals in the world! Thank you so very much for choosing this as one of the education events you attend this year.

    I remember when I welcomed everyone to our very first conference many years ago in the mid ‘90s – there were 70 people at that first conference, and we had only one post conference workshop - an ITIL Foundation Certification Course.
    That was the start of the snowball.  And, over the years the snowball has grown larger and larger, and today, we have an event that’s a week and a half long, with over 20 certification courses on the program, and close to 2000 attendees.

    You know, at the beginning, we challenged IT professionals to embrace not just technical certifications, but to also learn about process management. And you did!
    Over the past two decades, millions of people have learned about ITIL, ISO, Lean IT, Six Sigma, COBIT, just to name a few frameworks, standards, and models. While at one time, very few IT managers knew about process management certifications, today that is definitely not the case. And, we at Pink are proud of the major role we have played in this industry transformation.

    But, with all this knowledge, there are still many IT organizations who are not seeing the results expected. Why is that?  That’s a fair question.

    As our opening video stated: Just having certification knowledge is not enough! Successful IT organizations know how to turn knowledge into skills, and they know how to turn skills into results. Let me expand on that: successful organizations know how to turn knowledge into changed behavior, and they know how to manage this changed behavior to generate desired outcomes and new cultures.

    Many struggle with this, and so their IT service management initiatives often fail the first time around. There is a very famous quote about knowledge - have you heard it? It goes like this: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put one in a fruit salad!

    But, you know the news is not all bad; there are organizations who do get it right!  So, what are they doing, that others are not?  There are several critical success factors for getting it right and our conference program is filled with dozens and dozens of presentations delivered by CIOs and other IT practitioners, IT and business experts, and our own Pink consultants, and also our amazing line up of keynotes. They will all share details about what these critical success factors are.

    For now, I want to take a quick moment to tell you about just a couple of them myself.  Through our education and consulting practices we are lucky to interact with thousands and thousands of IT professionals each year.  And, we can see very clearly that there are commonalities amongst those organizations who are indeed very successful in turning knowledge into results.

    One key ingredient is “leadership”.  Leadership success at operational and tactical levels does matter, but it is the leadership capabilities of the most senior IT leaders that are most critical.
    Successful IT leaders demonstrate what I call the 3 i’s of leadership – they know how to “inform”, they know how to “inspire”, they know how to “ignite”.  We have these leaders on our conference program.

    They have been successful because they found the right way to inform their teams about why change is urgent and necessary, and linking these reasons back to their businesses – the bigger whole.
    They have found the right way to inspire their teams by making them feel emotionally connected in a very positive way to the change, and so they get people to buy in – they get them on board.

    And, they have found the right way to ignite and spark enthusiasm in others by mobilizing and energizing them in very effective and productive ways.

    And, successful IT leaders are also able to entrench a culture of continual service improvement (CSI) where improvement is not a one-time project, but rather it is managed as an ongoing, never ending cycle of Plan, Do, Check, Act. To these leaders, when it comes to CSI – there is no finish line.

    So, I have a call to action to all of you, and here it is ...

    As we move together through the conference over these next few days, I ask all of you to, not only share very granular operational successes and best practices at a process level – these are great.  But, I ask that you also talk about and share successes about what your IT leadership is doing to inform, inspire and ignite.

    And, you can keep sharing with others when you get back to work.  You can join IT service management local interest groups to keep sharing on a regular basis. If you want to know if one of these networking groups exist in your community then visit Shari at the itSMF booth here in the exhibition hall.

    Now, let me close off my welcome and opening remarks by saying ...

    I hope that you will inspire others, with your stories.

    I hope that you will be inspired to go back to your organizations and implement at least a few good ideas.

    And most of all, I hope that you will leave here with a deeper understanding of what it really means to turn knowledge into results!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/25 at 05:19 PM
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    Friday, February 22, 2013

    Just Back From Pink13? Now What?

    Whether you just got back from Las Vegas, or whether you participated vicariously thanks to social media - here’s the key “now what?” question you should be challenging yourself with .....

    The big message that kept coming across was “It’s all about People”.

    Tools and Processes and Strategy ....

    .... and Frameworks and Business Goals and Metrics ....

    .... and Security and IT Governance and Social Media and Big Data ....

    ....  and Metrics and Innovation and BYOD and The Future and ... and ... and ....

    .... all need some of your attention and understanding. But managing relationships, understanding team culture, setting expectations, motivating, empowering, involving and informing each other - that’s what needs the most of your attention.

    So what are you going to do about that? What ideas and intentions do you have to work on the People aspects of ITSM?

    The “experts” told you this is the most important criterion - so what are you going to do about it? Specifically, what????

    At Pink we’d love you to sign up for Pink14 right now (heck, we’ll even pay for your hotel if you do!) but there’s 12 months between now and then.

    So what are you going to do with the knowledge you got from Pink13 earlier this week?

    Hopefully you set out for Pink13 with the intention to learn some new ideas, bring them back to work and apply them - right? (Oh I so hope that was why you went!)

    So I say again ....

    .... What are you going to do with the knowledge you got from Pink13 earlier this week?

    Please let us know we’re going to all this trouble for a good reason.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/22 at 05:26 PM
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    Wednesday, February 06, 2013

    What’s The First “Thing” You Have To Get Right In ITSM?

    We talk a lot about “business/IT alignment” (or “business/IT integration” - whatever!) The reason for this is because it makes sense to assure ourselves that ITSM practices are relevant and valued.

    As a starting point I’d like to suggest a little thinking exercise (it’s a good idea to stop and think from time to time, right?) So think on this, and answer this question ....... what is the first “thing"ITSM must achieve in your business? I’ve listed 10 possible answers below. Can you chose THE most important objective for YOUR organization? Maybe it isn’t even in my list!

    1. Is it to resolve incidents and problems quickly?

    2. Is it to expedite changes quickly, with a high success rate?

    3. Is it to keep the lights on with a high % of availability?

    4. Is it to reduce the overall number of outages (reliability)?

    5. Is it to be available to support customers at times when they need assistance?

    6. Is it to directly help the business generate more revenues?

    7. Is it to reduce costs?

    8. Is it to secure data?

    9. Is it to increase efficiency and productivity out in the business?

    10. Is it to help the business grow?

    I can imagine you’re thinking “Yes - it’s all of those things!” But which is the most important? Is it possible to identify what’s most important? Is it even helpful to do so?

    I think it is, because no matter how well you do SOME things, there’s often an initial objective that must be met before all others become relevant.

    I’ll tell you why I’ve been pondering this. Elsewhere I’ve been asking myself the same question - to see if, as a customer, I can identify what’s most important to me when choosing (and paying) a service provider. This was all prompted by a book I read just last week written by Christopher Hitchens called “Mortality”. It was his last book. In it he described the healthcare he was receiving after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. You may say that the most important criterion would be something like:

    Being treated by the best doctors.

    Or, being provided a choice of treatment options.

    Or, having access to the most effective treatments.

    Or, the most affordable treatment.

    Or, a treatment regimen that doesn’t impinge too much on your quality of your life.

    For me, in that situation, it would be have to be speed of access to services. The reason for this is because it doesn’t matter how good, or how cheap or how affective the treatments may be - if there’s too long of a delay before getting started ....... well, you know ......!

    Here’s a few more examples:

    Choosing A Restaurant.
    There’s lots of criteria to assess, but for me the #1 is whether I feel safe eating there. Is it clean and no risk to my health? If I look through the window and don’t get a good feeling for how clean the place is, then I don’t care about the plaudits, or the quality of food, or the value for money, or the ambiance, etc.

    Choosing An Airline
    Usually the in-flight announcements say “Safety is our #1 priority ...” and I’m always glad to hear that. But to be honest, I assume that most airlines operate to similar safety standards, so the #1 selection criterion for me is “Do they fly to the place I want to go on the day and time I want to travel?” Some people might make the cost of the ticket the #1 priority, and I can understand that, but often there’s not a lot of difference in fares because it’s so competitive. So I gravitate to the schedule when making my decision. Sure, I compare one airline against another in areas of seat comfort, food & beverage service, customer service, rewards program, etc. But whoever goes to my destination on days & times closest to what I need usually gets my business.

    Choosing A Supermarket
    Being just around the corner is not good enough. Advertising the lowest prices isn’t that big a deal either. What does attract my scrutiny is the quality of the non-brand name produce and how well it’s prepared, packaged and presented. The store has to have stuff that looks appealing (and safe!) to me. I react positively to fresh, healthy food presented in an attractive way. I’ll even pay a little extra for that. I’m glad to see that most of the big supermarket chains are doing better and better in this area, but I still have my favourites!

    So, what do you think the first “thing” is you have to get right in ITSM?

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/06 at 09:22 AM
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