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Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development

Troy is a leading ITIL®, IT Governance & Lean IT authority with a solid and rich background in Executive IT Management consulting. Troy holds the ITIL Service Manager and Expert certifications and has extensive experience in leading IT Service Management (ITSM) programs with a regional and global scope.

He is a frequent speaker at IT Management events and is a contributing author to multiple ITSM and Lean IT books, papers and official ITIL publications including ITIL’s Planning To Implement IT Service Management and Continual Service Improvement.

 

The Guide

"This blog is dedicated to making sense out of the shifting landscape of IT Management. Just when we thought we had a good handle on managing technology, the job we thought we knew is being threatened by strange acronyms like ITIL, Lean, Agile, DevOps, CMMI, COBIT, ect.. Suddenly the rules have changed and we are not sure why. The goal of this blog is to offer an element of sanity and logic to what can appear to be chaos."


Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactic as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First, it is slightly cheaper: and secondly it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
~Douglas Adams

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Good To Great and ITSM Projects

The Long Sustained Road To Success

Another successful Pink ITSM conference is now a few weeks behind us but we are already hard at work developing the schedule for next year’s event. One of the sessions that I am looking forward to delivering next year is a review and reflection on the well known business book “Good To Great” by Jim Collins.  Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap…And Others Don’t

It seems like the message is already getting out there since I received an excellent question in my inbox the other day:

“Troy, I was checking out the Pink 2010 conference website and saw you were doing a session on “Good to Great.” I would agree the book has some good concepts, but was curious how you would address the authors selection of Circuit City as one of the key companies, considering that Circuit City no longer exists. It would certainly contradict his “Build to Last” concept.

Just looking for your thoughts.

Rob”

Rob you ask a fair question and here is a considered response based on the opportunities I have had to work with many organization on their ITSM journey over the last 12 years. The most difficult challenge that companies face over the long haul is the ability to sustain momentum for their initiatives. I have seen time and time again that something well started falters over time based on leadership changes (which changes culture and values) or leadership focus. The principal of sustainability is a major deliverable of governance that is often lacking in many companies.

I recently wrote blog post on this very subject: 7 Enablers for ITSM Expanded - Program Momentum

In order to sustain “greatness”, the principles/best practices discussed in the books need to be implemented over and over again (Continuous Improvement and Process Maturity are key to ongoing success). The reason Circuit City (and a couple of others in Collins’ book like Fannie Mae) ran into major trouble is they STOPPED practicing the principles that made them “great”.

I think what his book (and other best practice business books – including ITIL) imply is that there are some principles that can help a company/department succeed, but future success is dependent on the condition that these companies/departments continue to follow the same practices and that they implement continuous improvement best practices.

I have seen this played out time and again in organizations that have adopted IT Service Management. They literally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more on their goals only to abandon their objectives due to a shift in leadership and or leadership values. I suppose the average CIO retention rate in North America of 18 months does not help this challenge much.

So perhaps companies like Circuit City forgot their own recipe of success, or took some risks that were not in line with their principles. We need to remember that companies/departments are constantly evolving and therefore liable to change their leadership/personality/culture/vision that got them to the place they were before they changed. The Home Depot case study is a prime example of this culture switch. Initially a family oriented culture established by the founders of the company, but very different now with the introduction of new leadership with very different values.

Best selling business books provide examples of organizations at a point in time. Look at all the books that reflect on GE under Jack Welch’s leadership but very little is written about that organization today if you catch my meaning. If you can manage to replicate the philosophy of what made an organization great in your business/department and then sustain it with the good old Dr. Deming’s (Plan, Do Check, Act) circle of continual improvement a company has a better chance at “Long Term” success.

Troy’s Thoughts What Are Yours?

“Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it.” Warren G. Bennis

Posted by Troy DuMoulin on 03/26 at 11:07 AM
  1. As a former IT employee of a Major Electronics retailer, I can attest to the impact on a company’s culture when a dynamic leader moves on.

    Some companies suffer from the “idea of the month” syndrome, where leadership jumps from one current industry hot idea to the next. They’ll run with the current fad, until the next big thing comes along. Their path is littered with the remains of programs that will “transform our organization.”

    ITIL runs that same risk. How many companies have part of a CMDB in place, or the start of an on-line Service Catalog, or a percentage of useful information in a Knowledgebase? WE, unfortunately, obey the same laws of thermodynamics as the rest of the universe; without a continued input of energy, things slow down and eventually stop.

    Posted by BobGrins  on  03/26  at  11:32 AM
  2. Very true! @Bob, I like the entropy idea!

    Too many organizations either assume, or believe that any change initiative is a destination.

    It is not - it is a journey.

    Posted by Elliot Ross  on  03/27  at  02:56 PM
  3. Always a pleasure to read your blog, Troy. Your mention of Jack Welch at GE in the context of leadership values and agendas strikes a chord.

    I recall one of the very clear pieces of advice Jack gave in his book called Winning was to “adopt best practices from everywhere!” (emphasis his). This was the core belief behind his promotion of Six Sigma at GE, but the encompassing idea was rapid organizational learning by the sharing of ideas, both within GE and outside. Corporate culture and managing behaviors were arguably Welch’s single largest focus as CEO, and the company’s results speak for themselves.

    Most of us in IT work for companies where change is a constant, which can either be fantastic and liberating, or fear-inducing and maddening! The difference lies is the principles on which the company operates and its commitment to core values. That also means it’s willingness to find and get rid of people who won’t live them. Change was also a constant at GE but Welch used best practices, differentiation, principles of meritocracy and positive energy as a way to insulate people and in turn the company against change.

    It’s a very perceptive observation on your part that what is different in IT is that companies often do not have the same commitment to their culture and values. When leadership changes, usually good investments in culture and best practices go out the window as new leaders step in. It’s my opinion that this happens because these investments are not VISIBLE to new leadership.

    Anyone can look at the balance sheets and various other revenue related optics and determine the financial health of a business. That’s the easy part. It’s nearly impossible to objectively assess the health of the company’s culture or see how investments in culture, best practies and educating people are paying off without a lot of context, and context is precisely what new leaders lack when stepping in.

    The result is usually a complete reset and many of the best things learned over time are lost. People are plunged back into chaos, inefficiency and fear, and have to start at the bottom of the hill and hike back up the slope. In my opinion, what set Welch apart was his absolute conviction that the quantity of talent, the value of what his people knew and how they were managed to perform, and the game changing effect that best practices would have on his people’s performance were at least as important as financial health and capital investments, if not more so for GE’s success.

    This goes back to something I remember hearing you say in a conference a few years ago. It’s not necessarily important which best practice framework a company chooses to live by in a given area, such as ITIL in IT or Agile in software engineering. What’s important is a commitment to A SET OF best practices and continuous improvement methodologies. To that I would add investments in people, training and company culture…and in retaining your very best people.

    Most of us can recite a list of companies we admire because they get the people equation right…to the benefit of their customers and in turn the business. Guess where the most talented people want to work!

    Thanks for listening.

    Cheers,
    Dave

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/28  at  04:58 PM
  4. Dave

    Thank you for a very insightful and thought provoking post. Your comments remind me of another great business book I have had the pleasure to absorb. “Execution The Discipline of getting things done”

    http://www.amazon.com/Execution-Discipline-Getting-Things-Done/dp/0609610570

    Larry Bossidy one of the two authors also had the opportunity to work with Jack Welch and stresses that an organization’s long term / sustained success relies on getting the three main processes right and integrated.

    Strategy Process
    People Process
    Operations Process

    One of the challenges that I find we often face is that a new leader feels a need to discount what has come before and to re-create the world according to their particular view of reality.

    In my view a wise person who is secure in who they are would recognize the best of what is and build upon it rather than tear it down because it did not spring from the force of their own personality and vision.

    Troy

    Posted by Troy DuMoulin  on  04/01  at  08:22 AM
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