Wednesday, May 01, 2013
How Certification Can Help Translate Knowledge Into Results
Here are the visual aids from this afternoon’s talk at the APMG Showcase event in Toronto.
You might wonder how certifications can help with results - well it’s not a direct cause & effect; the point of my talk is that you need to VERIFY that the training & certification you have in mind actually will generate the kind of behaviour changes and positive organizational results you need.
EDUCATION - imparts knowledge.
TRAINING - delivers competence.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Do You REALLY Care About The Environment But Do Also You Want MORE Of What We Have?
At the beginning of this month we launched our e-materials strategy for all education products. In a nutshell, what this means is we no longer automatically provide printed manuals & handouts for our courses. Instead we load everything up to a server and give students the ability to download the materials and choose whether to continue to access them electronically on their own devices, or print them (in a variety of formats) themselves.
So we’re not taking anything away, in fact we’re giving the customer more options to chose from in how they take delivery of their materials.
Even though this strategy has been launched across all our education products this month, the concept is not new.
1. All of our courses in Self-Paced Online format have only ever used e-materials.
2. All of our courses in Instructor-Led Online format have also only ever used e-materials.
3. We have not provided hardcopy reference materials for our special events and conferences for a number of years now. (The sad sight of abandoned 3-ring binders in hotel lobbies around the world gave us the message loud and clear - people don’t want to carry half a ton of paper on their flights home!) We provide access to all session materials, along with audio recordings, on a special web server before and after the events.
Not only does our e-materials strategy save paper and shipping resources, but it also provides our customers with a number of added value items:
- The opportunity to access materials on a variety of platforms, in addition to printed form if desired.
- Because we use a web portal for delivering e-materials, we can now make available much more in the way of complementary materials and resources. For example, the actual files in PPT format to reuse back at work in shorter presentations to co-workers, or to replay and refresh their learning.
- The e-files are made available for download soon after the student signs-up for the course. So materials can be reviewed well in advance of showing up in the classroom.
- In the classroom, if the student now brings along an e-reading device (laptop, tablet or smartphone) it means they can access a lot more material than they typically would if they only had hardcopies with them. For example the complete set of ITIL books, or the materials from previous courses they’ve attended.
- We can quickly update files when necessary, so students can be assured of a better quality and more up-to-date set of materials.
All this sounds good to me, because you can:
- Download the materials to your favourite device well in advance of attending the course!
- Get a heads-up on what will be covered in the course and pre-read to your heart’s content!
- Cut & paste the PPT files to your heart’s content!
- If you want printed materials - fine. “Here they are, review them and print whichever sections you want in whichever format you chose!”
So far the response from our customers is encouraging. Most people see the sense in this and have either seized the opportunity vigorously with a good natured “About time too!” or have adapted quickly because they’re BYOD buffs already.
But I guess I’m not surprised at some of the cynical remarks I’ve heard too:
- “Pink is cutting back and not passing the cost savings on to us!”
- “My employer doesn’t allow me to print!” (Really?? We’ve heard this more than once, so I guess it must be true.)
- “Our firewall won’t allow us to access your e-materials portal.”
I shudder to think what other missed opportunities must exist out there when a big company restricts employees from printing or accessing useful services via the web.
The truth is this isn’t motivated by a goal to cut costs. In fact when I look at what we’ve spent on constructing the tools and resources to make this work, and the ongoing promotion, maintenance and management - I’ll be happy if we’ve managed to avoid increasing costs!
Our goal has been two-fold:
1. A desire to conserve precious natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint. It just seems like the right thing to do, even if in the grand scheme of things our impact is relatively small.
2. To take advantage of e-world technologies to provide our customers with more choices and more resources. Handing out bigger (and heavier) books is just not a viable option.
So I ask the cynics - “Do you REALLY care about the environment? And do you want MORE from Pink?”
Come on, give me a “Yes!” and a “Yes!”
Friday, March 22, 2013
On This Day In ITSM History
At the end of March, 1997 the 1st Annual IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition (Pink97!) was almost 9 months away. More to the point, it hadn’t been planned, or even thought of yet!
If memory serves me right, we came up with the idea of the Conference some time during the summer of 1997. When it came to fruition it was a single track event with a small table-top vendor exhibition in the lobby. The whole thing was introduced, delivered and wrapped-up in just 2 full days in early December at the Holiday Inn on King Street (now the Hyatt) in Toronto.
A grand total of 61 people attended!
I only have about 20 very grainy photos of that event. This is one of the best(!) showing me explaining the original ITIL Certification scheme (ah - life was so simple back then!)
I mention all this only because today - a little over 11 months before the 18th Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition at the Bellagio in Las Vegas next February - we already have more confirmed attendees than that final total from the 1997 event. Just goes to show you how far we’ve come. Not just in terms of the level of attendance, but also in the planning window. In recent years initial planning for each Conference begins 2 years out.
In early 1997 no one would have signed-up 11 months in advance for a Conference to be presented by a strange new company with the not so serious name of Pink Elephant.
Whereas in 2013 there are many who are familiar with, and value, the Annual Pink Conference, and they are so sure they’ll be there next year that they’re prepared to commit so far in advance and take advantage of the special Early Bird deals we provide. This year, register by April 19 and we’ll pick up your hotel bill for 3 nights at the Bellagio. That’s almost a $1000 value - more than the registration fee for Pink97!
We’ve come a long way in 18 years, eh?
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!
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????
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.
Monday, January 28, 2013
The 6 Most Important Pink13 Trade Secrets - Published Here!
Those who know me well will probably tell you that trumpet blowing is not something I’m known for. But I’m going to give it a go today (at least on behalf of the whole Pink team), so - Spoiler Alert: major trumpet blowing exercise ahead!
Out of all the things we do in the world of ITSM, Pink is possibly best known for delivering the most admired ITSM conference on the calendar each year. It’s not just me who says so, our practitioner customers and vendor customers tell us every time - “Best conference ever!”
It’s a tough standard to live up to every year, but we follow some “golden rules” to minimize risks and increase the likelihood of continuing our success.
As we’re headed into the final stretch for the 17th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas next month, maybe I can let you into some of the secrets as to how we do it.
There is something of a formula we use - and I’ll call out the most important aspects right here. In fact, I’ve never been shy in sharing what we’ve learned with others. Especially those who don’t do this for a living (for example, local itSMF groups who are trying their best to offer up special event programs for their members).
Event planning is an unforgiving business. Get it wrong and you could have a major disaster on your hands. Get it right and the reward is a huge sigh of relief! So, there’s a bunch of things we pay a lot of attention to, and there’s 17+ years of experience which undoubtedly counts for a lot, but here’s what I believe are the major reasons why at Pink we’ve been so successful in delivering the industry’s best, biggest and most admired Conference of the year.
1. Content: Is King!
Hands down this is the most important criterion for our practitioner customers. Pink’s CEO, Fatima Cabral Ratcliffe, frequently reminds us that the feedback we get from attendees each year always makes priority reference to the quality and relevance of the subject matter. Making sure the sessions are valuable is THE most important thing. So we don’t compromise when it comes to identifying subjects and creating sessions. Fatima and Pattie Lanktree go out over a year in advance to begin to solicit contributions on specific topics from known, and new, speakers. No matter how accomplished you may be as a speaker, if the subject isn’t topical and in-demand, you’ll be rejected. I’ve noticed at some events the program building seems to be the wrong way around. Choose the speaker (or speaker organization) and then find out what they want to talk about. At Pink we don’t care too much who you are, who you work for or what you want to talk about - unless what you’re proposing matches what we’re looking for.
2. Practitioner Speakers: Tell It Like It Is!
Content and speakers go hand-in-hand, of course. But sometimes Fatima and Pattie hear about interesting work that’s been done in a practitioner organization and that piques their curiosity. “Is there someone there who can speak about that project? How did they do that? What were the challenges and how were they overcome?“etc. etc. It all sounds like more content management, but in fact just because some content has been identified, that’s only half the solution. Now they have to find someone who’s capable of presenting it! I know Fatima and Pattie are proud of how many practitioners they’ve encouraged and brought to the fore as industry speakers. At Pink we aren’t just about re-cycling speakers - we introduce new speakers every year. They’re carefully encouraged and coached, and the high level of ratings shows we’re doing it right! To encourage others we always recognize the highest rated practitioner session through our “Case Study Of The Year” award.
3. The Pink Faculty: Really Is Unique!
No matter which ITSM event you go to in the year, you’ll never see such a rich team of experienced consultants talking about practical, down-to-earth advice as you’ll get at the Pink Conference. Troy DuMoulin (Pink’s VP of Professional Services) has an amazing team of Consultants and Trainers who just LOVE to share their knowledge and experience. We think - we KNOW - they’re the best in the industry!
4. Vendors: They’re Customers Too!
At other industry events I see the vendor community being treated as some kind of “necessary evil”. I can almost imagine what goes on in the Conference planning meetings “We need their sponsorship (money) - all we need do is give them a 10x10 booth .... maybe we can get a bit more from them if they sponsor the coffee break!” What’s up with this? The vendors have a significant role to play in the world of ITSM. Their products are valuable enablers. It’s important they have the opportunity to get in front of practitioners with their vision and their ideas for how they can help. The market stall approach of a traditional exhibition is usually the only vehicle conference planners use to “serve” vendors. That and the opportunity to splash logos around on walls, Powerpoints and handouts (for more $$$ of course!) The truth is that signage doesn’t really connect people, and some practitioners find the exhibition floor a bit intimidating. So in recent years Pink’s Lisa Lyons has introduced more opportunities for vendors and practitioners to connect in useful ways:
- Pre-event and post event webinars.
- Interviews and articles distributed though our electronic newsletter - PinkLINK.
- Demonstration of their thought leadership with specially designed speaking sessions and seats on think tanks and panels.
- In the past couple of years we’ve even profiled vendors with interesting new products in our closing keynote session. They didn’t pay extra for that, they got that opportunity because they have something interesting we’d like everyone to hear about.
- Ultimately they could target the “Innovation Of The Year” award. If the cap fits, we’ll let you wear it!
5. Location: Las Vegas!
The 1st & 2nd Annual Conferences were in Toronto. That city is clearly the preeminent Canadian location, but still a foreign country as far as many US-based practitioners are concerned. So when we moved to Chicago in year 3 we saw a big jump in attendance. The next year it was Orlando and we saw another significant jump. A few years later the switch from Florida to Nevada saw the biggest single year increase in attendance before or since. Of course we understand that Las Vegas is not for everyone, but neither is Orlando, or anywhere else for that matter. Still, even with Vegas’ reputation being tarnished in recent years as corporate bailout money ended up on the Strip, our customers continue to vote with their feet and prefer Las Vegas. After all, for most of us in North America, if you’re going to travel somewhere in February then for once at least - Las Vegas is a safe bet!
But it’s not just the location and timing that’s the draw, which leads me to the next point ....
6. Venue: Bellagio!
In August 2001 I was invited to speak at another organization’s conference in Las Vegas. That was my first time at the Bellagio. I was so impressed with the facilities I came back to Pink HQ and declared “We really need to be there!” The convention centre is not as spread out as some others, where you seem to walk miles from one room to another. It’s also all on the same level - no elevators or escalators. And overall the quality of amenities and service is amongst the best we’ve experienced - at any venue anywhere in the world. It really is 5-star and, in my view, still the best hotel in Las Vegas. That’s the kind of standard we want to be associated with at Pink! And our customers agree. Since we first located our Conference at the Bellagio we’ve never wanted to be anywhere else. However, good business discipline dictates that we should stop and think carefully before renewing each year. Therefore we’ve went out to tender more than once to make sure we’re not missing something elsewhere. So far the Bellagio is still #1 on our list, and I’m always proud to tell people that the Bellagio folks tell us that Pink is their #1 customer! Apparently, we don’t just use every room for the duration of the Conference, but our pre- and post-conference schedule of training courses means we almost take over the place for nearly 2 weeks. And that means Pink brings more business to the Bellagio than any other organization. Wow!
There you have it - 6 of the top reasons why we produce such a great event!
It’s always been good to be a Pinker, but my proudest moments are when I think of what the Pink team has achieved year-over-year with the Annual Conference.
So, for this year, if you have something specific you need to learn about in the field of ITSM, we’re sure to have it at the 17th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition. For deep and comprehensive learning you should check out the training course schedule which goes before and after the main event. On the other hand, if you have a wide range of interests, concerns and challenges you expect to be facing throughout the year - then look at the main program and create an hour-by-hour itinerary for yourself from the main Conference program, get yourself registered and welcome to Pink!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Interesting Feedback From Customers This Week
Still at the Winter Education Symposium in Orlando!
Here’s some random facts and opinions I’ve been hearing these past couple of days:
- Four people this morning in the SOA class said they were very unhappy with the performance of their ITSM tool in how it supports/enable the Service Catalog.
- Instructor-Led-Online courses are generating a lot of interest. People are attracted to the idea of not having to leave home to get the training they need. Although everyone agrees coming to a physical classroom is the ideal solution.
- Six out of six people I talked with over lunch said they had come to Orlando with their families. They either spent a few days in advance of their ITIL Intermediate class visiting the Theme Parks, or they were doing so this coming weekend (after they get the exam out of the way tomorrow afternoon!)
- We’re all impressed with how Disney manages changes in their Theme Parks (“Pardon Our Dust”), but their IT systems seem to be having a bad week this week. There’s been many reports of room keys not working in the hotels, and the front desk not being able to re-program new keys.
And there was time for a little diversion this morning. Sitting in the SOA I was “tackled” at the mid-morning break by a couple of participants who wanted to know what I could do to help liven things up. Until now Rich Petti had set a very high standard over the first 2 days keeping everyone engaged and entertained, but for the first hour this morning the material was quite dry and there was a general feeling of “hump day” affecting the mood. I must admit I wasn’t quite on the same page but I thought I’d play along anyway. So a few minutes later, as Rich was introducing the subject of SLM, I challenged him and said “So, that slide you have there says the Service Catalog is a database or a structured document ........ so which is it? A database or a document?”
Rich paused for a second, a little startled that his fellow-Pinker was apparently about to get difficult. But in truth, he hardly broke his stride. “It can be a database OR a document”.
Then someone else chimed in “But the next bullet says you should publish the Service Catalog. How can you publish a database?” Rich paused for another second and then came right back and said “Well, you can electronically publish, so your service portal might contain Service Catalog information that it pulls from the database ....”
I looked at my two “trouble-maker” compatriots and I could see we were all thinking “He’s good, we can’t fluster him”. So I decided to try and keep the disruption going by picking on the instigator. I turned to Jeff (our playful customer) and feigning annoyance said “Are you trying to cause trouble or something?” Jeff continued playing along and started to argue back at me “He thinks he knows everything (gesturing to Rich) ....”
Well, at his point Rich suddenly paused for just a bit longer. Now we had him. He didn’t know what was going on. “What’s happening here? A minute ago you were arguing with me, now you’re arguing between yourselves”.
We all just laughed out loud. Service Level Management with a smile!
Certification • Events • Practices • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Monday, December 10, 2012
A Pink Treasure!
This week fellow Pinker Robin Hysick and I are sitting in on two of our ITIL Intermediate courses at the Winter Education Symposium here in Orlando, Florida. We have all 4 Capability courses - SOA, RCV, PPO, OSA - as well as the MAL course going in the convention centre of Disney’s Coronado Springs resort.
One of the objectives Robin and I have is to evaluate and assess the customer experience. This actually started a few days ago as we went through the registration process in the exact same way as our customers, receiving confirmation of attendance and advice for recommended pre-reading as well as instructions for how and when to register on arrival at the course.
Today was the start of the actual class experience and already we’ve gathered more feedback than I expected about what our customers like, and dislike about their learning experiences. Over the next few days I’m expecting a comprehensive set of data for what we can do to improve. After all - let’s be honest here. We’re not perfect, and if we don’t make an effort to find out what can be improved - then we don’t deserve your business!
As the days go by this week I’m particularly looking forward to hearing more about what people think of the way the courses are designed and presented. For now, I have a good feeling about this SOA course I’m auditing. Mainly because of the Trainer, Rich Petti. He’s definitely a “Pink Treasure”! Not only explaining everything very eloquently, and at just the right pace - but Rich has this charming style and throws in the most entertaining comments and observations that more than once have had me laugh out loud. He’s playful, but also clearly passionate about the subject. A good Trainer needs to know his/her stuff, but if you don’t keep people engaged it doesn’t matter how much you know. Right?
I’ll give you another update at the end of the week - stand by!
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Talking About The Past, Present & Future Of Pink & ITSM
I was recently contacted by Oleg Skrynnik of Cleverics - an ITSM services organization based in Moscow, Russia. Oleg wanted to pick my brain about Pink Elephant and the future of ITSM for his blog. The interview was later published on the itSMF Russia website.
We talked a little about my background before Pink, how Pink got started and then the really interesting stuff - what’s happening in ITSM today and what we can expect in the future. Here is an English translation of the transcript.
OLEG: David, first of all I would like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity and for your time. I guess you are quite busy with all the great things you are doing with your fellow colleagues at Pink Elephant, such as annual Pink Conference. Let’s begin from the beginning. What’s your ITSM story? How did you end up being President of World’s leading organization for ITIL and IT Service Management?
David: I began working as an IT practitioner in the UK in 1976, and in 1986 I left my position as “IT Manager”.
So as many good consultants you’ve started in IT, from the ground?
Yes – I worked for 6 years in IT operations, then another 6 years as IT Manager. In the manufacturing industry. Then I joined a consulting firm which was co-owned by a gentleman called Malcolm Fry. Malcolm became my mentor and taught me a lot of what I needed to know to be a trainer & public speaker.In 1991 I moved to Toronto, Canada and started my own education & consulting business with my wife, Fatima Cabral. That company was later bought by a Dutch company called Pink Elephant, which had been founded in the Netherlands in 1980. Pink Elephant was then itself bought by another big Dutch IT services company, Getronics. However, in 1999 Fatima and myself made an offer to Getronics to buy the Pink Elephant brand world-wide and we moved the HQ back to Toronto. So we’ve been operating here in Southern Ontario and serving customers across Canada, the USA and elsewhere in the world for over 20 years now. That’s the short version!
What is Pink Elephant today? In which countries are you present?
Pink operates in about a dozen countries around the world, and with a small group of partners in about half a dozen other countries. You can find “Pinkers” (Pink Elephant employees) in Canada, USA, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, UK, Netherlands, South Africa, Singapore & Malaysia.
How many employees are working for Pink?
There must be around 200 Pinkers by now!
What is bigger – education or consulting services?
Education and consulting are BOTH significant for us! In some countries one is bigger than the other. I think that’s because our teams in various places have one of those disciplines as a clear strength, and the markets are different - so opportunities present themselves differently from place to place.
How many happy course attendees did you turn on to ITIL last year?
I’m going to guess we probably trained upwards of about 20,000 people in the last calendar year. We know it’s been well over 250,000 in the past 20 years. Most of those are ITIL certification courses – but not all. We also have a range of Pink-developed “How To ...” courses. We go and deliver training in many, many countries around the world. And some customers make use of the online versions of our courses - either self-paced or instructor-led. So, with the benefit of the Web, no matter where you are you can do a Pink course!
Could you please compare ITSM culture in different countries?
This is a BIG subject!
People – and their performance – is the most significant criterion for success within IT Service Management. And the culture (a set of attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours) is a product of the people. So understanding the culture is very important when we engage with our customers. You can easily fail in your objectives if you don’t take into account the culture within the organization. A successful approach in one organization might be a messy failure in another.
But culture in an organization is not just dependent on the country you are in. There are more cultures at play than simply the national culture. Identify a group of people who have something in common – an employer, an industry, a club, a country, in fact a community of any kind and you’ll start to see a common set of attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours emerge. So businesses and industries have specific cultures too. It’s not just a national thing.
For example, if a North American multi-national sets up shop in south-east Asia we might see aspects of both types of national culture present. But if that organization is a bank – then there’s a banking culture you can expect to see too, and quite possibly the “banking culture” will dominate - strong on approvals, permissions and routine. People DO follow processes and respect the hierarchy in banks! (as they do in government organizations).
So it’s not about countries then?
This is a very interesting topic. A common mistake I see people making is to accept sweeping generalizations based on geographical culture. As a result of globalization you sometimes don’t see as many differences as you would expect.
Having said all that, you specifically asked about national cultural differences, so here is one example from our experience. As a general rule, workers in Asia are more likely to need to get permission before proceeding with a change – they do not want to by-pass the boss. While in North America people are often rewarded for using their initiative and not bothering the boss!
I am always careful to explain that cultural differences are just that - “differences”. Different does not mean better or worse, just different! But if you understand the culture of the ITSM group you’re working with then you can adjust your style (as a Trainer) or recommendations (as a Consultant).
Now let’s move on to the topic of great public events. Pink’s Annual International ITSM Conference is well known all over the world, and we even heard about it here in Russia. How it all did started? Why Pink did it?
When we started Pink Elephant in North America in 1997 we wanted to let businesses here know about this best practice framework called ITIL. We were quite nervous about what the reaction would be because ITIL had been “invented” in the UK and Americans, particularly, might not welcome anything that was “not invented here!” We decide to “launch” ITIL in North America via a conference. It was billed as the “1st Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition” and we had a grand total of 61 attendees. That was December, 1997 here in Toronto.
We were encouraged by the response because we had people travel from all over the US and Canada. So we quickly scheduled the “2nd Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition” for June, 1998. It was only 6 months later, but it was in the next calendar year so we thought it was OK to call it the “2nd Annual Conference”! Around 100 people came this time. By year 4 we were in Orlando in February, 2000 with over 400 attendees and it’s been growing steadily ever since.
How the idea developed over the years?
Our goals at the Conference are to Educate, Inspire, Entertain and Connect people. “Educate” might seem obvious – that’s what any conference should do; provide people with new ideas and information. But we also want to Inspire people to take the new knowledge and actually do something with it. And if we’re asking them to give up a few days and possibly travel a long way to be there, then let’s also provide an “Entertaining” environment. More recently with the advent of Social IT we have recognized the importance of “Connecting” people to each other – to continue the learning beyond the Conference.
Last Pink12 Conference, which was just held this past February, was huge – 16 years in a row, 15 tracks, more than 160 sessions, 40+ sponsors… How was it?
This past Conference went very well, thank you!
We had lots of positive feedback from our attendees and exhibitors. The exhibitors particularly value the event as it attracts exactly the target audience of decision-makers they want to connect with. People who attend the Conference for the sessions tell us they value the content most of all, plus the networking opportunities.
In Russia it’s very hard to sell the event of this kind with no free admittance – what’s Pink’s secret to get such a big crowd together for their money?
The success of the event is no secret. Anyone can do it if you have:
I am joking, of course, when I say “anyone can do it”! This is a VERY big project, and it can be very risky because so many things need to be just right if we are to be successful. Because the event is obviously tied to a particular place and a particular date, sometimes things outside of our control can get in the way, such as weather, natural disasters, political or social distractions, the economy, etc. etc. We have been affected by ALL of these over the years! But the Conference Team we have at Pink Elephant is very experienced and does a great job of managing all aspects of the event in which we DO have control. Such as project planning, venue management, content management, marketing, sales, on-site production and logistics, etc. I am particularly proud our the small team who identify the topics and select the speakers. This is so important if our event is going to be special and valued by customers. In fact, this is what our customers tell us they value most about the event, and it’s the main reason they keep coming back.
Overall, I know everyone at Pink is very proud of our Conference, and our Conference team!
So you even have a dedicated Conference team at Pink Elephant! What is the Conference for you now then? Is it an opportunity to promote your brand and services, a way to earn some money or means to grow the market?
We have always reinforced to the Team that our #1 priority is to be profitable with the Conference. This objective goes hand-in-hand with delivering something worthwhile for the customer. It’s difficult to have one without the other. So it’s important to treat the Conferences we do as a line of business, not a special marketing initiative. This forces us to look at the event from a customer’s perspective. We need to deliver value to the customer and not just do things that we want to do – which is what can happen if we just treat it as an extension of marketing. No one wants to go to a Conference and sit in sessions where you’re being sold to.
Being at the world’s largest (as far as I know) ITSM company, you no doubt know latest trends on the market. Could you please share with me your thoughts? In which way ITIL is moving? How ITSM principles are applied, what is hot right now? All the marketing buzz words such as clouds, BYOD, social – how are they influencing our precious ITSM world?
It’s more about IT service management than ITIL. ITIL is only one way to achieve your objectives. It’s good, but it isn’t a methodology with rigid “must do” practices. You can take some good ideas from ITIL, plus some good proven ideas from elsewhere, plus your own practices that work well – and establish a good IT service management operation.
In the market right now we’re hearing lots of buzz about other practices that can be adopted to help corporate IT. I think one of the key drivers for continual change in how we manage IT services is the very fact that many IT services are now outside the control of corporate IT. So this introduces the subjects of Cloud IT, Social IT and the consumerization of IT leading to BYOD.
These are all trends that tell us our co-workers, users and customers are becoming more sophisticated in their expectations and demands. So how does IT Service Management support or enable these trends? I think this is a very important question, and I’d like to see more of our leaders in ITSM step forward and acknowledge that the very core of IT – the infrastructure & services – is changing. People can get IT services themselves, they don’t always need a corporate IT function to do any heavy lifting, or give permission. We’re all “activating” web-enabled services and mobile devices with great ease, low - or no - costs and with startling results. I still think there’s a role for ITSM here, but we must stop thinking that the only IT infrastructure & services that matters is the stuff that’s bought, implemented, managed and supported in-house.
Do you think that this will lead to the dramatic changes in IT Service Management as a concept? If so, what are those changes? Many experts believe that ITSM will stay intact, but we need to change the way we implement our processes to deliver services, and the services will be different, but the concept of IT-delivering-services-not-products will stay.
Correct! We still need ITSM. It’s just important to accept that IT services can come from other places, not just in-house.
What is the most important thing in ITSM for 2012? Why?
I’m not sure I’m a good predictor! Although we’re already well into 2012 and some things are becoming increasingly apparent:
Thank you for your time, David!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
PinkChile12: My Keynote & “Dragon’s Den” Materials
Here are the materials from my two talks at Pink’s 3rd Annual IT Service Management Conference here in Santiago, Chile this morning.
First, the opening keynote, where I discussed the leadership qualities we all should identify and try to develop within us. You do NOT have to be in a position of authority to demonstrate good leadership qualities:
And my second session, where I discussed entering the “Dragon’s Den” when seeking approval for ITSM improvement projects. Go into the “Dragon’s Den” unprepared and you’ll be eaten alive! Make sure you’re well prepared by having ready answers to the Dragon’s predictable questions - and you can walk out of the Den with whatever you need - as long as your project makes sense!
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Monday, August 20, 2012
1st Annual IT Service Management Leadership Forum
Just got back from the lovely Fairmont Princess Resort in Scottsdale, AZ (“But it’s a DRY heat!”) where we discussed 24+ primary issues facing IT service management leaders today. Everything from “Business/IT Alignment”, to “Meaningful ITSM Metrics”, to “Proving The Value Of Frameworks in ITSM” - and so much more.
Thanks to all the guest Subject Matter Experts as well as the practitioner participants who made the whole 2-days a most illuminating, and fun, experience.
Watch out for the 1st Annual IT Service Management Leadership Report, summarizing all the discussions, advice and recommendations from the event. It will be published - in e-format - very soon and will be a free download from the Pink website!
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Ideas For Keynote Speakers At Pink13
We’re at that time of year when we have to be decisive about keynote speakers for the Annual Conference. We already have one confirmed, Sally Hogshead, who will talk on the Tuesday morning about how to get others excited about your ideas.
Remember, I have blogged before about the criteria we apply when assessing our potential keynotes. We’re looking for speakers who can EDUCATE, INSPIRE & ENTERTAIN. Sally definitely fits the bill. Now, here’s something of a random short-list of other options we’re looking at for the remaining keynote slots. I wonder what you think about them, feel free to let me know.
Matt Ridley has a different perspective on the subject of “ideas”. In fact the title of his talk really grabs your attention - “When Ideas Have Sex”. I have to admit I’m a sucker for everything Matt Ridley writes. His book Genome is one of my all-time favourite reads.
Charles Duhigg has recently released an interesting book - “The Power Of Habit” - where he explains, amongst other things, what we need to do to break unwanted habits. I can think of a few habits I’d like to break! See him talk about the concept here:
Is there anyone in North America who isn’t already familiar with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger? We may know what he did (emergency landed a plane on the Hudson River in January 2009), but there’s a heck of a back-story about the man’s mind-set and his methods. What I really like about what Sully has done since he hit the news is that instead of simply writing a book about his own experiences he’s actually knocked on doors, researched and interviewed others about stories of vision and courage from “America’s Leaders”. You can read all this in his book “Making A Difference”, or maybe come along to Pink13 and hear what he has to say (and get him to sign your copy)! I saw him a couple of weeks ago on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and here’s the clip:
And, just for fun, watch what David Letterman did with the “Sully Story” .....
For me, one of the smartest men on the planet right now is Neil deGrasse Tyson. Do you think he’d be a good fit for Pink13?
Events • Leadership • Videos • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Leadership Fun In Mexico
I enjoyed talking to our customers at the opening to the 8th Annual ITSM Conference in Mexico City yesterday. The session kicked off with a short video highlighting leadership qualities demonstrated by recognizable leaders from the past and present. I can’t post the video here, but I have included a copy of all the still images and statements in this file. BTW, how many of these great leaders can you name?
However, the point I wanted to make in my talk was that you don’t have to be a “Designated Leader” with great power over resources in order to show leadership. We can all be “Everyday Leaders” in the eyes of our co-workers and friends if we demonstrate some of the qualities I outlined.
Look through these PowerPoint slides to get a better idea of what I discussed; including suggestions for what we can do to improve our leadership abilities when we’re not in charge.
What do you think? Have you seen leadership in action from those who aren’t in charge?
UPDATE - Just loaded the video to YouTube!
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Summer Travels - Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore & Arizona!
Just been reviewing my calendar and realized I have a busy travel schedule over the next few weeks. We have 4 major Pink events in 4 different countries and I’m speaking on the subject of “ITSM Leadership” at each one. Here’s the full run down ....
“8th Annual ITSM Conference” in Mexico City next week.
My opening keynote is titled “ITSM Leadership: You Don’t Need To Be In Charge To Get Results”.
“4th Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition” presented mid-July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia & Singapore.
I’m involved in 3 sessions:
- The opening keynote - “Key Challenges For The ITSM Leader Today” - where I’ll specifically include references to what I believe are challenges unique to delivering ITSM in Asia.
- A co-presentation with Pink’s George Spalding titled “Pink Elephant’s Top 8 Absolute Must Do Projects For Every ITSM Organization”
- The closing “Round-Table With The ITSM Experts” which I chair, and will be joined by Cathy Kirch of Allstate, Jerry York of University of Texas Health Science Center, Rich Razon of PureShare and Pink’s own Troy DuMoulin & George Spalding.
“1st Annual ITSM Leadership Forum” presented mid-August in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I’m really excited about this new event on our calendar! Not only are we presenting it at one of my favourite venues, the Fairmont Princess Resort, but also because of the format. We’re facilitating a series of deep discussions into a couple of dozen high priority concerns that ITSM leaders are struggling with today. I present the opening and closing keynotes as well as facilitate a breakout discussion group:
- The opening keynote is titled “Vision, Strategy & Leadership In IT Service Management”.
- The closing keynote is a repeat of what I present in Mexico next week - “ITSM Leadership: You Don’t Need To Be In Charge To Get Results”.
- And the breakout discussion is all about how the Cloud can be exploited by ITSM - “Should ITSM Tools Be Located On Premise Or In The Cloud As SaaS?”. A little provocative sounding, maybe, but a topic many of our customers want to talk about.
Let me know if you’re planning to be at one of these events and I’ll make a point of looking you up to say “Hi!” (or “¡Hola”).
Events • Leadership • Travel • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Friday, April 13, 2012
Pink Events For Your Calendar
The special events I’m about to list are being presented in various countries around the world. If you have any co-workers or ITSM friends overseas please do them a favour and let them know when we’re in their area!
Hong Kong: April 19-20 the “ITSM Process Implementation Roadmap” is being presented by ITIL’s CSI co-author, and Pink Principal Consultant - Gary Case.
Mexico City: May 23-24 the “8th Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition” - the theme this year is “Knowledge Translated Into Results” and I will be there as a speaker.
Kuala Lumpur: July 16-17 the “4th Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition” - also has the “Knowledge Translated Into Results” theme and I will be there to speak too.
Singapore: July 18-19 the “4th Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition” (a replay of the same event earlier that week in KL).
Scottsdale, AZ: August 16-17 the “1st Annual ITSM Leadership Forum” - a brand new event, and a brand new format. I’m VERY excited about this one!
Las Vegas, NV: February 17-20, 2013 the “17th Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition” - planning is already well advanced and we’re just about to close the Early Bird Special Offer this weekend. I can hardly believe we now have almost 300 people confirmed for attendance! This very date last year we had 244 confirmed Early Bird registrations for the 16th Annual Conference - so it’s good to be ahead this time. earlier this week I had a few meetings where we reviewed and discussed the feedback from those who attended the 16th Annual (see, yes we do pay attention!) There were lots of compliments, but to be honest - we probably pay more attention to the few complaints and the many suggestions. As a result we’re making some adjustments to what we already had planned for the 17th Annual and I’ll look forward to updating you on this in the coming weeks. I have to bite my tongue a bit, because some of the ideas I really like and can’t wait to “roll out”, but we need to get our ducks in a row first and make sure what we want to do is actually going to be possible. A little mysterious, I know, but you’ll hear soon enough.