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Rob England

Monday, May 07, 2012

ITSM Leadership

Pink President, David Ratcliffe, called it out earlier this year: we in ITSM are not doing enough to deal with the risks and opportunities that the changing IT landscape presents.  It is time for more ITSM people to step up and take a leadership role.  There is too much laissez-faire abdication of control of IT.  We can’t sit back and watch BYOD, social media, the Cloud and so on change our organisation’s IT.  We must do more to play a part in steering the organization, helping manage the risks and exploit the opportunities:

These services are out there in the ether, on the Web. Being dreamt up by innovators who don’t work for us and who sometimes don’t even know where they’re headed! These new services are being tried out by everyone – often without a goal in mind. They’re just experimenting. Much falls by the wayside, but some of it sticks.

The other key point David makes is that people from all levels of IT can help lead:

Don’t confuse authority with leadership, or leadership with management. Anyone can lead, you don’t need approval, or a title.  Good leadership is about influencing and helping others to achieve a common goal. A vision can come from anywhere, but a good leader communicates and reinforces the vision; and helps others to act in accordance with it.

So Pink Elephant are doing some interesting stuff to address this need for more ITSM leadership, with the ITSM Leadership Forum.  It is an event, in Scottsdale in August, and equally it is a community discussion, right now, online.  The event and the discussions intersect on the session descriptions .  Read that sessions page: it is structured as a set of key questions for ITSM leadership.  It will get you thinking and hopefully joining in the forum!

I reckon Pink have really spotted a need here and done a nice job of addressing it.

(4) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 05/07/12 at 06:27 PM
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

COBIT 5 is here: essential reference for everyone in IT

You may recall Pink12 gave you 10 things to do when you got home, and my own recommendation was

Read ISO/IEC 38500 Corporate Governance of IT and dip into COBIT 5 Process Reference Guide (Draft) - you need to be aware of these

COBIT 5 is no longer in draft: the final public version is out and you can download it here (46,000 downloads as of April 26th).  As ISACA says on the website

COBIT 5 is the only business framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT. This evolutionary version incorporates the latest thinking in enterprise governance and management techniques, and provides globally accepted principles, practices, analytical tools and models to help increase the trust in, and value from, information systems. COBIT 5 builds and expands on COBIT 4.1 by integrating other major frameworks, standards and resources, including ISACA’s Val IT and Risk IT, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) and related standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

That sounds like something everybody in IT should at least be aware of.

Personally I think it is something that everybody in IT should have in their toolkit.

In fact I go even further than that and say it should be the default best practice framework which we reach for first (as you know if you went to my “ITIL vs. COBIT: showdown of the methodologies” presentation at Pink12).

But even if you don’t buy that last premise, it is hard to argue with the first one: everybody in IT should at least be aware of COBIT 5.

ISACA want your registration to get the core COBIT 5 content (but they don’t want money). 

They want your membership to get all the associated books in digital format for free as well, but personally I think that is a good deal.  I pay it.  I buy the hardcopy versions too, but I’m like that: I still prefer paper to bytes.

If all you want is overall awareness, then you don’t even need to register.  You can download a few documents without registration that will give you the picture:

I would encourage everyone to have a copy of COBIT 5 at hand.  I use COBIT as

  • a structure for framing any IT management thinking
  • a checklist for any form of review: process capability assessment, current state review, document audit, process audit…
  • an input to role descriptions, especially the RACI responsibility matrices
  • a reference for process best practice (fleshed out when necessary with other sources such as ITIL)


(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 04/25/12 at 06:48 PM
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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Leading The Way To A LEAN Problem Management Culture

The Pink Elephant 2011 ITIL Project of the Year Award winners were Deutsche Bank.  This award “recognizes an organization that has demonstrated significant commitment to ITIL and ITSM best practices with involvement of certified staff, and visible positive outcomes.”  The 2011 runners-up were Adobe and Air Canada Jazz. 

You can learn more about this interesting initiative next year at PINK13, when Joseph Gallagher, Vice President, Global Problem Management Process Owner at Deutsche Bank will present Leading The Way To A LEAN Problem Management Culture

When Deutsche Bank talks global problem management, they really mean it! A leading global investment bank with over 100,000 employees in 73 countries, Deutsche Bank embarked on a journey in early 2011 to increase the worldwide overall efficiency of their Problem Management process by reducing waste and inefficiency within the process. Unable to find LEAN subject matter experts, Deutsche Bank looked inward for the development and execution of their transformation project. Join Joseph, as he shares his experiences in developing the LEAN charter, mapping the process, classifying value versus non-value add activities, and identifying and reducing process bottlenecks. He’ll reveal how building a LEAN culture has nurtured and sustained their success. If your organization is embarking on a LEAN journey, be sure to attend this session for real-life examples, tips and lessons learned.

I talked to Joe about the project.

Joe, for those readers who weren’t at the ceremony at PINK12, please tell us a little about Deutsche Bank’s winning project

The DB project was called “Problem Management Transformation Program”  - at the end of 2010 we realized that, although we had a nice, repeatable problem management process, we were not working very efficiently, nor were we providing our clients with consistent quality. At the beginning of 2011 we initiated this program to address both of these weaknesses, by conducting a LEAN 5D review of our process and implementing higher standards for producing a quality problem analysis. LEAN helped us to identify various types of TIM WOOD [Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, Overproduction, Defects] deficiencies in our process, which we drove out through automation, consolidation, industrialization (moving very repetitive tasks to a support organization that focus on those tasks and become very efficient at it), and elimination. By Q4’2011 we had removed close to 40% waste from the process, allowing our problem managers to focus on the two areas where they add the most value – root cause determination, and remediation determination. As part of the LEAN component we “went back to the drawing board” as it relates to the proper way to implement program management as detailed within ITIL v3.0. We found that over the years we had “over engineered” the problem management process, making it cumbersome and slow, with lots of “cool steps” in the process that really added no value to the client. Finally, we improved our overall quality by aligning our problem managers to specific business areas, giving them a better understanding of the applications/infrastructure they support, which made them much more effective over time. We also trained all our problem managers (and all were certified) in Kepner Tregoe Resolve, giving them the foundation of a rational and consistent thought process.

What have been the consequences or impact of winning this award? 

Consequences – I believe we have set the bar very high and expectations for problem management in 2012 will be well above that bar. But we are up to the task and looking forward to really extending the value we add throughout the organization. One of the consequences of the project itself, is that it has allowed us to shift a portion of our problem management resources to focus on more proactive problem management – driving problems out of the organization before they lead to serious incidents

You are presenting next year on LEAN Problem Management Culture. I’m willing to bet not too many organisations have applied LEAN principles to problem management in particular, especially on a global scale. You had difficulty sourcing expertise? 

We were fortunate at the beginning of the project to have an outside firm come in and teach us the LEAN concepts and help us with the initial Define and Diagnose phases. From there, it became fairly straightforward to identify and address the various types of waste we discovered. 

And did you find any resources at all pertaining to LEAN and problem management?

We found no resources externally or internally that had experience using LEAN within a problem management process. Although the LEAN methodology seems to be very easy to apply to any process.
Were there peculiarities to problem management when applying LEAN to it?

Measuring waste was a challenge at first, as we were using 2010 baseline, which was filled with hazards related to data quality. We saw the LEAN program coming in early Q4’2010 so we paid particular attention in Q4’2010 to provide as accurate a reflection of our workload and process as possible, so that could serve as the baseline for 2011 measureable improvements.

Can you expand on what that was about please?

One of the issues we recognized in 2011 is that the quality of our data was not great. This was due to the lack of strong governance and quality controls around what we were entering in problem records. It wasn’t as bad as garbage-in-garbage-out, but it was inconsistent (an artifact of having problem managers coming together into a single organization in 2010, each bringing their own “unique” perspective on what was required to be documented in a problem record). We started to change this in Q4’2010 just as a matter of good practice, but also recognizing the fact that in order to measure 2011 improvements we needed to have at least one quarter of reasonably good data as the baseline.

Another peculiarity with problem management is that you really can’t remove “waste” from the actual root cause investigation itself. Sure, we can streamline our root cause sessions, and provide more consistent results (KT), but you can’t “squeeze” much waste out of this part of the process, which by its nature, has lots of variability due to the different levels of investigation required. Thus, we set out to remove all the waste before and after the actual root cause investigation, and that’s where we reaped lots of benefit.

What tools or techniques helped you with the cultural change over 73 countries?

There was lots and lots of training, communication, and awareness throughout the year. I cannot understate the importance of this aspect – updates were provided to the problem management staff and senior management at least monthly, and sometimes more often. We also made LEAN improvements part of all the problem manager’s objectives – they were all required to provide at least two LEAN improvement initiatives that made it to production. Finally, we governed the process very well – we had daily health checks to ensure we were on target with our objectives, and weekly trend reports to see where we needed to shift resources.

Watch this blog for a future discussion with Joe and George Spalding of Pink Elephant about the judges’ views on this project and why it won the Award.  And go hear Joe at PINK13.



(1) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 04/04/12 at 06:44 PM
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Governance sessions at PINK13

Governance is an important topic to everyone in IT.  Of course it is of greatest interest to IT managers - those accountable to the governors - but we should all have a general understanding of it, just as we do with say security, whether we are directly involved with it or not.

We’ve talked about governance often enough on this blog before and seen a rising tide of posts and presentations about governance.  Next year at PINK13 I’ll be presenting some more.

Past discussions on this blog include

Next year I’ll bring you more on Governance of IT (I much prefer “Governance of IT” to “IT Governance”: it makes it clear than governance happens to IT not by IT).

  • What Governance Isn’t and thereby developing an understanding of what governance is.
  • Plug and Socket: Preparing IT For Governance,  the practical application of governance to IT

You will of course find discussion of governance in a number of other sessions too (don’t miss Jennifer Wels on COBIT)

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 03/29/12 at 11:43 PM
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinkie goes to Hollywood

Recall that David Ratcliffe made this invitation recently

I have a bit of a fun challenge for you. In the past we’ve encouraged Pink customers to send us their interesting photos of Pinky - our little stress elephant mascot. We have a nice little collection going, and sometimes we post the best ones for all to see. So this is just a gentle reminder. have some fun and take a pic of Pinky in a fun situation and we’ll post it right here!

So here’s my contribution: Pinkie goes to Hollywood in which Crooner Pinky leaves Las Vegas en route home to LA

Waving to fans, with his backing singer and ...ahem… constant companion Beach Pinky:

Into the sunrise on the early morning train to LA…

A Channel 24 News helicopter shot…

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 03/14/12 at 04:47 PM
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some of my favourite shots

Here are some of my picks from the pics, chosen from the Pink Flickr account.  Do you have any snaps of your own you’d like to share?  Send them in!

Further to our discussions of Pinker shirt colours, THIS is “mulberry”:

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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 03/13/12 at 05:22 PM
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Friday, March 02, 2012

Pink12 gave you 10 things to do when you got home

The 16th Annual ITSM Conference (colloquially known as Pink12) is over and Las Vegas settles back into the dull, sleepy place it is when we are not there.  One of the last events of the conference was David’s and George’s session on 10 things to do starting Monday morning.  I saw a few tweets about how Monday was looking overloaded: you can always pick and choose, and of course the session title says “starting” on Monday - you could give yourself all week.

Do you recall what those 10 things were?  Revisit them here and start checking them off:

  1. Go meet a user – connect with them face-to-face. Ask them what they need (talk in value, outcomes, costs and risks) (suggested by Paul Wilkinson).
  2. Validate the desirability, viability and achievability of each of your current IT projects (suggested by Graham Price).
  3. If the culture needs to change in your organization, start by getting to the “connectors” and “salesmen” who have influence over others. Get them to agree to change and everyone else in their network will follow (suggested by Jack Probst).
  4. Read ISO/IEC 38500 Corporate Governance of IT and dip into COBIT 5 Process Reference Guide (Draft) - you need to be aware of these (suggested by Rob England).
  5. Consider all the changes you have scheduled – if you think you’re going to have trouble with people resisting, look for what they’re attached to that is getting in the way, then support them through the change (suggested by Dr. Victoria Grady).
  6. Go visit your business [the customer, not the same thing as a user (see #1)] to find out what their concerns, challenges and needs are (suggested by Gary Case).
  7. Document the different RESULTS you expect from your future state. Then define the different ACTIONS you need to take to get those results (suggested by Troy DuMoulin).
  8. Get connected! Socialize and share your new knowledge amongst your peers (suggested by David).
  9. Get started with your Service Catalog by consolidating all the “access points”, so the business only has one way of asking for anything – via the Service Catalog (suggested by George).
  10. Take advantage of the Super-Faithfull offer for Pink13. Sign-up! (Suggested by Pinky!)

There is good advice there.  Why not try them all.


(1) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 03/02/12 at 09:26 PM
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The largest gathering of ITIL-Certified Professionals in a single spot

Over 500 ITIL-Certified Professionals joined together at Pink Elephant’s annual conference to participate in the largest gathering of ITIL-Certified Professionals in a single spot.

The monumental photo was taken at Pink Elephant’s 16th Annual Conference & Exhibition at the beautiful Bellagio in Las Vegas.  IT professionals from around the world participated in the record setting photo including attendees from Canada, Latin America, South Africa, UK, Japan, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

“We were curious to see how many of the 1600 attendees would show up for the photo opp,” Fatima Ratcliffe, Pink Elephant’s CEO’s mused, “Thanks to the 500 who did. Of course, it’s very hard to compete with the Vegas Strip – even for a record breaking photo!”

This photo is a first for the industry and will hopefully lead to other organizations and events taking part in similar activities. Pink Elephant is known for creating some awe-inspiring moments at its events and this year’s conference and record setting photo was no different.  Past events have featured a live Elephant, the Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders and a Pink Floyd cover band.

“WOW!! In the click of a shutter we set a world record!!” George Spalding, EVP, Pink Elephant said enthusiastically, “Just a hair over 500 ITIL-certified professionals gathered in a single spot at Pink12, the most people with ITIL certifications ever photographed in a group!  Silly?  Of course. But after an incredible head-filling day of intense learning what better way to unwind at Pink12!  It was indeed a blast. Let’s go for 600 next year!!”

I was there.  Were you?

(2) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 02/28/12 at 08:33 PM
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pink12 staff plumage

Does an elephant have “plumage”?  That’s the word we used in a past post to canvass previous conference colours.

This year the Elephant is displaying “mulberry” and “sage” colours.  Here’s the Conference Host, George Spalding (@gspalding11), and the Pink Prez, David Ratcliffe (@pinkerdavid), displaying “berry” (“mulberry” yet to be revealed):

Yesterday they were spotted wearing red with Crooner Pinky (@Pink12_Live), who wears white shirts every day.

(1) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 02/16/12 at 06:06 PM
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Preparing for Pink12!

Las Vegas is a fun place.  And there are a few things you should know in advance to help you enjoy it. 

If you haven’t been following this blog in previous years, here is some advice we have provided in the past:

In addition to George’s Conference Optimizers, here is some advice from past years on preparing for the conference:

...and don’t forget to get PinkApp!

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 02/13/12 at 06:23 PM
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Monday, February 06, 2012

The ITSM Extreme Makeover proves the four-Ps principle.

I hope you have been following along with the ITSM Extreme Makeover a project led jointly by Pink Elephant and Hornbill along with participating sponsors GamingWorks, LCS, HDI and TSO, to bring extreme change to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  Recently Pink’s lead contributor, Jack Probst, had this to say:

We went live with new processes and ITSM tools – and achieved SUCCESS!

Through most of last year and right up until now we have been preparing for this big day. We assembled all the parts and explained how they worked. With the aid of all the partners we assessed, developed, documented and trained on processes. Hornbill has been working behind and in front of the scenes with the development team to install the Supportworks ITSM tool. Their work included assisting with the integration of the Incident Management process developed under the guidance of the Pink Elephant consultants. (FYI for my readers, the UTHSC team, being the overachievers that they are also implemented the Change Management process they self-developed and stood up the Problem Management module in Supportworks to address major incidents).

All through this time there has been a series of training, testing and certification events ... that were conducted by members of the partner team – HDI, GamingWorks, Pink Elephant and LCS. And of course TSO was there with the all-important guides, the ITIL framework documentation, that proved invaluable in cementing the team’s understanding of the big picture.

As Jerry York, UTHSC CIO, said yesterday in a core team meeting, the success of the Extreme Makeover experience has truly been the result of a team effort – the UTHSC core team providing guidance, direction and leadership, the partners lending their expertise and products as needed, and most importantly all the members of the UTHSC staff who embraced a new way of working.

Most of you will have heard of the four-Ps principle: to succeed at ITSM transformation, you must pay attention to People, Process, Products and Partners.  Jack’s description clearly demonstrates this.

Look out for lots of feedback from the ITSM Extreme Makeover at this year’s conference:

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Pink Elephant


HDI GamingWorks Loyalist Certification Services TSO

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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 02/06/12 at 05:26 PM
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Sunday, February 05, 2012

“Our Way”, Not “My Way” - Please!

With a conference Pinky icon like this one, I guess we are going to hear a bit about “My Way” at the upcoming conference.  I think it is a great song, although the version that often pops into my mind when I hear “My Way” is Sid Vicious’s dulcet tones.

And there-in lies my problem with the song.  I can identify with it personally in the seven years since I broke away from the corporate yoke.  And it probably resonates for Pinkers too, since Pink Elephant seems to go its own sweet independent way in the ITSM industry.  But Frankie wasn’t exactly a pillar of moral rectitude and philanthropy, and certainly Sid reminds us of the other way the song can be sung.  Inside a team of people responsible for delivering service, “My Way” isn’t the right way.

It is a big issue with some IT techs that they are so convinced of their own technical superiority that they lose sight of corporate goals or customer needs, and instead resort to obstructionism and abuse of power. There have been a number of rants on the Web of late venting frustration with IT and their resistance to change, usually around personal computing, bring-your-own-device, cloud or social media.  Some readers will know I’m not a fan of rushing into any of these new technologies, and I think control of risk is being dangerously played down, but it can’t be denied that part of the problem is IT staff who really are getting in the way because they think they know better… or in a few cases they just want to be dogmatic.

In my book Working in IT I wrote about how techs need to align with where the organisation is going.  If they don’t “get on the bus” it’ll go without them and eventually they will cause a problem that will get fixed, and the fixing seldom enhances their career.  You can hear me talk about this in a recent webinar

So let’s not hear an excess of “My Way” at the conference OK?  Let’s also hear plenty of “Our Way”.

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 02/05/12 at 07:42 PM
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Friday, February 03, 2012

Gamification Of The Service Desk

“Gamification” - the application of video gaming and online gaming concepts to business - is a hot topic right now.  The folks at Omnicare in the USA are doing some exciting stuff to improve their customer service.  Kim Liston and some of her staff from Omnicare will be at the Conference this year (Kim is part of a Social IT presentation) and of course ServiceNow will be there too, so you should ask them about their automation of badges and rewards for service desk staff. 

But I just had to have a chat in advance:

  Omnicare - Gamification Of Service Desk by Pink Elephant Inc. 

We look forward to hearing more about that in future.  It is an interesting cultural change initiative.

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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 02/03/12 at 11:46 PM
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A preview of CyberOverload

A few months ago we interviewed Dr Joanne Cantor about her upcoming presentation at the conference: Conquer CyberOverload: Strategies For Sanity & Success You can hear Dr Cantor here as she talks about her book and a preview of the presentation at the conference.

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 01/25/12 at 04:31 PM
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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Inside Skinny On Pink12

Following on from our recent tips of what you might see at this year’s conference, here’s the inside skinny on how the numbers are progressing, and other insights.  “Skinny” isn’t a word used a lot around me, but the Pink President David Ratcliffe is pretty trim.  Listen in as he gives us insight into the planning of the Pink Elephant conferences, some of the philosophy behind them, the registration numbers, and - yes - the theme.

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 01/20/12 at 05:00 AM
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