Saturday, December 25, 2010
Whatever you do, don’t write it down
OK, I’m back after an all too long self-imposed hiatus. I can say that I was swamped with work and many back-to-back long assignments (I was) but in truth I was abducted by aliens and the substitute Dr Jim they temporarily replaced me with did not know he was responsible for blogging! But I have escaped and am back…
I am teaching ITIL certification courses most of the time and keep wrestling with the subject of documentation. I have an opinion about documentation (surprise-and you can probably guess what it is). Do you have an opinion? Of course you do. Opinions are like noses-everybody has one.
I’d like to hear how you really feel about documentation. Should we document what we do and plan to do? I am especially interested to know what are your reasons (excuses) for not documenting what you do or plan to do. I want to be convinced that documentation is a big waste of time and has little or no value…so I can start teaching that viewpoint in my ITIL certification courses. I’m tired of swimming upstream. Help me out here. I will wait impatiently to hear from you.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
A Christmas gift to make things better
As we approach Christmas, it seems a good time to give you a simple gift: some suggestions for important books to read in 2011.
To make your ITSM better, read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande and be inspired. Checklists are a simple concept with a powerful impact in reducing errors and increasing efficiency. I was so inspired I am building a website of service management checklists. (And to make your ITIL better, read the newly revised ITIL V3 Planning to Implement Service Management by Colin Rudd.)
To make your management better, read The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig to understand how so many formulas for business success are in fact blind luck.
To make your life better, read The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley and feel good about the world as we find it today. (If that doesn’t work, follow up with The State of Humanity by Julian Simon.) There has never been a better time to be alive. Make the most of it.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Twelve Days Of A Pink ITSM Christmas
Something similar has been done before, but who can resist tying the Twelve Days of Christmas to the upcoming Pink Elephant IT Management conference? I can’t.
Here’s the special version for the impatient (there are a few of you in IT), which jumps straight to the twelfth verse, because I’m too impatient to do all the copy-and-paste.
On the twelfth day of Christmas,
Pink Elephant sent to me
Twelve vendors drumming,
Eleven twitters tweeting,
Ten dance floors leaping,
Nine ladies dancing, in aqua shirts
Eight ideas milking,
Seven heads a-swimming,
Six fears allaying,
Five maturity rings,
Four falling costs,
Two learning days,
And a Conference that’s must-see!
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Things to do in and around Las Vegas #3
OK I’ll stop calling you geeks. But for those of you ... er…. interested in technically-oriented topics, there are a bunch of lesser-known museums in Las Vegas that we, I mean you ought to check out:
The Atomic Testing Museum is not far off the Strip, at 755 E. Flamingo Rd. Open daily.
Don’t stay too long.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is also fairly close, at 1610 E. Tropicana. Open Daily.
A great place to bounce around in.
The Neon Museum has an outdoor “gallery” starting at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and Fremont Street.
Visiting the rest of their collection at The Boneyard requires prior bookings.
Petrolheads should visit The Shelby Museum, open daily.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Things to do in and around Las Vegas #2
Continuing our series of posts with a different view on things to do in Las Vegas before, during or after the Pink Elephant IT Management Conference, here’s one for the tech-geeks (of which there will be more than a few at the conference for sure):
If you are coming from California, take the Historic Route 66 through Helendale, CA. Check out three sights in Helendale:
Helendale Avionics Facility, the Lockheed Martin skunkworks away in the desert behind Helendale. It can be seen from Helendale Road, although the official address is 17452 Wheeler Road. Lockheed test stealth aircraft shapes here on a retractable pylon that sinks into the ground to hide them from satellites (I wouldn’t make this up). Who knows what you will see taking off or landing?
Helendale Solar Power Plant is supposed to be at the end of Harper Lake Road and shows on the Google satellite photo, though Google streetview doesn’t show much. (It is truly astonishing that Google photographed a godforsaken location like Harper Lake Road. That in itself is is a geek point of interest).
...and finally, speaking of godforsaken places, if you are a student of the sociological extreme (like I am), then cross Route 66 to the most undeveloped suburban development of them all
Just don’t stay long or get out of the car.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
The DNA of ITSM
Dr. Stuart Galup teaches database and MIS courses and holds many certifications – he is a Certified Computing Professional, Certified ITIL Expert, Certified IT Service Manager, Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT, and Consultant/Manager Competence Certificate in ITSM according to ISO/IEC 20000. In addition, he has held several IT practitioner roles. In short, he’s one of us ITSM geeks.
Dr. Galup’s research shows that efficient and effective processes and knowledgeable employees are what separate high performing organizations from average or low performing organizations. In his presentation at the conference, The DNA Of ITSM, he will discuss a five-step method (co-developed by Dr. Ronald Dattero) to tune IT Service Management processes by focusing on the knowledge needs for each role and identifying the employee who possesses the needed knowledge. This five-step method employs a Dynamic Network Analysis (DNA) model that includes three components – Persons, Roles, and Knowledge – and four important relationships between and within them.
This is important new thinking for ITSM, so as part of our series of interviews with “Real Professors” we went to talk to him about it:
Dr. Galup, what do you think of the proposition that the industry is maturing up a Technology-Process-People path? That is, our emphasis on tools as the key to improvement is being replaced by process (e.g. ITIL) as the key to improvement, and now more recently we are finally realizing that it is primarily about changing people, or more precisely ABC: Attitudes Behaviour and Culture (as GamingWorks calls it)
I agree that the most challenging component of any best practice application is employee acceptance of the change. People make the difference between success and failure. Yet, I am not sold on the premise that “our emphasis on tools as the key to improvement is being replaced by process”. I am a firm believer that knowledge and the transfer of information from one knowledgeable source to another is what make a process efficient and effective. Tools can make a process work faster, but it is use of knowledge that enables best practices to come to life.
That is a powerful point Stuart. Too often knowledge management is treated as peripheral rather than fundamental. You are right that we in ITSM still don’t pay KM enough attention, (although ITIL V3 did introduce it as a discipline and the SKMS as a conceptual repository of all knowledge). I know I am guilty of it, though in recent times I have been much interested by KCS: Knowledge Centered Support as an ITSM-specific methodology for bringing knowledge to centre stage.
I do think KM can be thought of as one aspect of the maturing beyond process-centric thinking to a people-centric approach to ITSM. Perhaps the secret formula to ITSM success is culture change + knowledge management + process improvement?
I concur. All three aspects are interrelated and must be addressed for success.
Just from the name, Dynamic Network Analysis sounds complicated. Is it? How does it scale for smaller organizations? (Here in New Zealand my client with 12,000 IT users is considered one of the biggest)
It all depends on the application. We have been using its predecessor, social network analysis, for years in law enforcement and terrorist tracking. It can be applied to all size organizations.
Your “research shows that efficient and effective processes and knowledgeable employees are what separate high performing organizations from average or low performing organizations”. What are some other factors that did NOT strongly correlate? Where does morale come in?
Our research is still maturing so we have not done comparative analysis. At this point, we are developing methods of applying techniques that law enforcement uses in crime prevention to everyday organizational processes. Law enforcement seeks to find the “king pin” or the person that knows all about a particular crime activity, for example, Carlos Escobar. By removing Carlos Escobar, law enforcement disconnected the information flows within the drug cartel. When it comes to IT Service Management processes we are interested in the knowledge sources so we can ensure a successful execution of the process when needed. If an organization uses a defined incident management process and an incident occurs, the process is only successful if a knowledgeable employee is available to address the incident.
This is really intriguing: drawing on techniques from law enforcement for process improvement. Perhaps we could also use DNA for pin-pointing tech staff who circumvent change controls (just kidding).
Yes, and take them out to the woodshed.
What success have you had with the DNA approach? Does a DNA exercise pay for itself?
The payback for using DNA has been documented for crime prevention activities. We are early in the use of this approach for business and government organizations so more research is needed.
Who is showing an interest? Will DNA ideas show up in any broader bodies of knowledge in future?
We have published several academic papers on this subject during the past three years and interest is growing.
On this blog we’ve postulated some emergent themes for IT in this decade http://blogs.pinkelephant.com/index.php?/conference/comments/the_leading_themes_of_it_management_in_2010/. What are your thoughts on where the spotlight will be in the coming years?
I believe that one key ingredient for future success is knowledge management. At some point in the next decade all those aging IT baby boomers will have to retire and who will support all the baby boomer code. Knowledge management of retiree knowledge will be one of the critical success factors going forward.
Another issue in the same vein is the Gen X, Y and Z attitudes to jobs. They churn. They wander off. They demand constant change. Capturing and transferring knowledge is a huge challenge when staff only stay around for a year or three.
This is a very important point. The loss of retiree knowledge compounded with Gen X, Y and Z career floating could result in a real competitive disadvantage for many employers/industries. On the other hand, employers may start to rethink employee age ceilings by offering alternative late stage employment relationships.
Knowledge management is an afterthought in many ITSM organisations. These ideas about DNA of ITSM present exciting new possibilities to do better. Don’t miss this session.