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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

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    Tuesday, April 08, 2014

    What’s The Purpose Of ITSM In Your Organization?

    First things first.

    That’s a phrase I’ve heard many different people say all through my life. Usually a leader will use this phrase to focus us on the approach for a task. I even remember my grand-mother on baking day saying “First things first” as she got her huge mixing bowl out from the pantry!

    However, in the context of IT Service Management I think this phrase comes into its own not so much when we describe WHAT we should be doing, or even HOW we should be going about things, but “first things first” in ITSM should mean “WHY are we about to do this ....?”

    Always verify the purpose before starting some new initiative. Always make sure there’s a worthwhile benefit to the organization. That means the benefit needs to be relevant to our overall objectives for the business.

    For me, the purpose of ITSM has always been - to deliver reliable, worthwhile and cost effective IT services (those words “reliable”, “worthwhile” and “cost effective” cover a lot of ground but you don’t need me to elaborate on that - do you?)

    So, as you’re about to make changes in the operation of your ITSM activities you should be asking yourself “Is this change going to help us deliver greater reliability of existing services, worthwhile new services, or have a positive effect on finances?” If the answer is “Yes” - well done! If the answer is “No” or “Not sure” - then you have more thinking to do.

    Keep in mind the purpose of ITSM.

    A few years ago that would be it for my subject today - the purpose of ITSM is to deliver reliable, worthwhile, cost effective IT services. But today, there’s more ....!

    Recently, through the consumerization of IT, we see corporate IT being by-passed as new IT assets and services are sourced by others in the organization. That’s not so bad when it’s done effectively and efficiently with no unacceptable risks (such as data being compromised). But I have to believe this increasingly empowered workforce could still use some expert advice when making their decisions. So, I see an additional role (purpose) for ITSM - to provide counselling on the risks & opportunities of new trends in technologies and IT services.

    Do you agree? Or do you think it’s just buyer beware! (Translation: “It’s not my job!”)

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 04/08 at 08:29 PM
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    Saturday, March 01, 2014

    My Favourite Photos From Pink14

    All of the photos can be viewed here.

    But here’s my faves:

    Here we see Pink Think Tank participant, David Cannon. I can’t quite decide if he’s about to fall asleep, or pounce.

    That’s George Spalding (Pink Executive Vice President), Super Pinky (Pink Chief Ambassador), Lou Cino (Pink Executive Vice president & CFO) and me.

    Fatima Cabral (Pink CEO) initially tells us how many martinis she wants when she leaves stage ....

    ... then changes her mind.

    Peter Hepworth (Axelos’ CEO) - that’s not your halo slipping is it Peter?

    Postcard for the Boss “It’s all hard work at the Pink Conference, honest!”

    Me and my old buddy, Malcolm Fry. I’ll have to hunt out some pics of us 30 years ago to let you see how we havn’t changed (he’s always been the short, ugly one).

    And finally, Pink’s Troy DuMoulin & Jack Probst leading the Pink Think Tank team in a special performance of the Can-Can!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 03/01 at 04:35 PM
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    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

    Pink14: What You Already Know & Some Of What You May Not Know!

    So the 18th Annual IT Service Management Conference is all in the past now - except for the “clean up” we have to do over the next few weeks. When I say “clean up” I’m not talking about any unexpected mess, just the detailed assessment of feedback from all the sessions, and paying the bills!

    By all initial accounts the Pink Conference Team did another fantastic job. We had slightly more attendees than last year, and more vendors too. So from a purely business perspective, the riskiest thing that Pink does every year is almost put to bed with no surprises or dangerous incidents to send us into any kind of panic (thank you Mother Nature; thank you Mr President; and thank you everyone else in the world who didn’t do anything to mess with us).

    There’s a lot the Conference Team have to do to prepare and then execute this event, but they’re old hands at most of what’s needed. One thing I’d like to call out, though, is how on the Tuesday afternoon they assisted the Bellagio team to “flip” the main keynote room to get ready for a big party. There was a lot to do, from setting up the stage for the Water Coolers and the Rolling Stones tribute band - The Jagged Stones - to setting tables for 1500 people with party favours and lots of other fun decorations. Oh yes, and the bars and food tables! If you were there for the party then you probably wondered how that huge room could have been reset so quickly - but it was. Thanks to the Bellagio Events Team and the Pink Conference Team. Well done!

    Speaking of “The Jagged Stones” - we were quite tickled at a piece on Huffington Post the next day profiling the band and their performance at the “Tower Ballroom, Bellagio”! Just a bit puzzled why they didn’t mention Pink or our event by name ???? Also, does this mean one of our participants is a blogger for Huffington Post?

    But lots of other reviews were very clear in their appreciation of Pink and the overall value of the event. Some interesting reads were contained in the blog entries by:

    Rebecca Beach writing for the ITSM Review

    Jon Reynolds (Cloud Sherpas)

    Ian Aitchison (LANDESK)

    Earl Begley from the University of Kentucky, writing for the ITSM Review

    Chuck Darst for HP

    Jim Finister (Tata Consultancy Services)

    If you were there then some of what you’ll read in those blogs will sound familiar, for sure. And, no doubt you took away some great ideas and guidance from the eclectic group of speakers and fellow attendees.

    The anecdotal comments we’ve received first hand have also been universally positive, praising the great job done by all our session speakers and contributors. As expected we’ve had a few comments about how there’s “just too much content”, and “give me more than 15-20 minutes for lunch please!” But you know - and you’ve heard me say this every year - no matter how we slice & dice things, you’re ALWAYS going to be unable to attend everything! You just have to spend some time planning your time to make sure you hit what’s most important to you. And if you need 45 minutes for lunch - take it! Don’t blame us (it’s my fault actually) that we have sessions going on while you chomp down. We just want to give you lots to chose from, and that means you can’t do everything. I’m afraid that’s a “criticism” we’re always going to have to live with. We regularly consider new ideas for how we can space things out and try to adjust the program so that you can make the most of as much of the content as possible, but at the end of the day - unless we have a single track event - YOU have to make some choices!

    Again this year, for the 3rd time, we streamed all the keynotes live via the web. If you were one of those who tuned in, I’d really like to hear what your experience was like. This year we made some adjustments to how that was done, using a split screen to show the speaker and the images on the big screen simultaneously. A big improvement on how when a speaker might show a picture or video and you’re left staring at a silent and motionless speaker on-stage as in the last 2 years.

    My personal highlights of the Conference program:

    • Seeing the impressive stage setting for the first time on Monday morning. Wow! It looked fabulous - the colourful yet moody Gotham City backdrop with the London phone booth (errrr, OK, a bit of artistic licence there!)
    • Seeing Pink’s CEO, Fatima Cabral, come out of that phone booth, removing her Superhero cape and welcoming everyone in that most calm, confident and stylish way that only she knows how - and then going on to deliver, for me, the most memorable line of the Conference: “Holy Fit For Purpose, Batman!”
    • Then seeing Pink’s Executive VP, George Spalding go INTO the phone booth dressed as Clark Kent and exiting a few seconds later in his Superman outfit. OK - to be honest the Superman outfit is not something we really want to retain in our memories, I know, but it was fun for us in the know (and now you!) to think of how George was “re-dressed” by two ladies inside that booth. George has many talents, but being a solo quick change artists clearly isn’t one of them - so he needed an extra couple of hands in there. OK - moving on quickly ....
    • Long time Pink friend Kirk Weisler doing an absolute kick-ass job as Jimmy Olson in his little vignette with George, sorry, Superman.
    • Commander Chris Hadfield. Everyone else has already said how he lived up to our need for inspiration. I was just a bit tickled to think how we booked him almost a year ago - when he was actually still in space at the International Space Station! Well done Conference Manager, Pattie Lanktree! I loved his style of speaking, and I’ll never get tired of seeing close-up video of launches from Cape Canaveral. That thunderous roar always gets to me!
    • Seeing Pink’s Barry Brown accompany Cmdr. Hadfield in a performance of “Space Oddity” Nice one Baz!
    • Caroline Casey: Again, others have written eloquently about this impressive lady. I was just completely taken aback by her story. In 18 years we’ve had many, many interesting keynote speakers, but she takes the cake for providing me with the biggest surprise. I just wasn’t prepared for what she had to say. If you want to know what all the fuss was about, watch her TED Talk video and be ready to have your mind blown.
    • The many conversations and good wishes I received from old and new friends over the few days we spent together. It means a lot to me when people say they LOVE coming to our Conference and they can’t wait to come back! Thank you.
    • And the folks who attended my two sessions on Wednesday. “The Dragon’s Den of ITSM” just before lunch got off to a fun start when I asked everyone if they were enjoying the event, and especially why a few folks tend to leave on Tuesday evening. “What’s that all about?” If you were there you’ll know there was no shortage of opinions on what people would like to see next time. We’ll try our best - I can promise you that! All good feedback we’re taking into consideration, thanks!
    • And my half-day ” workshop “The ITSM Leadership MasterClass” on Wednesday afternoon. If you were there you probably observed that I enjoyed it as much as anyone in attendance. Is that fair? Am I allowed to have more fun than my customers?! I just love this subject and I’m planning to do a lot more research and writing on this. “Leadership” is talked about a lot these days, but mostly in a very generic way. I think “Leadership in ITSM” has some special needs - which I really want to understand and discuss more. So look out if you’re going to the “3rd Annual ITSM Leadership Forum” - PinkFORUM14 - later this year!

    Well, if you were there last week I want to thank you. The faith you place in us means a whole lot more than I can express. And if you weren’t there - then maybe we’ll see you next time? The “19th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition” is way more than just a placeholder in our calendars right now. We’ve been planning it for some time and we promise you’ll not regret attending!

    Better still, if you plan to be at PinkFORUM14 & Pink15 - you need to check out our special combo offer!

    Pink14 is gone. PinkFORUM14 & Pink15 are on the way!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/25 at 05:19 PM
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    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    The ITSM Leadership MasterClass

    Here are my materials from Today’s session.

    ITSM_Leadership_MasterClass.pdf

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/19 at 06:29 PM
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    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Welcome To Pink14!

    The 18th Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition is off to a great start! Here’s how it all began, with the Opening Remarks from Fatima Cabral, Pink Elephant’s CEO.

    Hello!! Welcome IT Superheroes!

    On behalf of everyone here at Pink Elephant, it is my pleasure to welcome you to Pink14 - our 18th annual conference. We are so very proud that this is THE largest gathering of IT Service Management professionals in the world! Thank you very much for being here.

    I want to extend a special thank you to those who have travelled from abroad – and there are many! This is truly an international event – we have attendees here from all corners of the globe; Russia, Africa, many parts of Europe, the Middle East, many parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand and of course, from here in North America – Canada, Mexico and the US as well as Latin America. Thank you very much for making the long journey here to join us. 

    WOW - 18 times!  It’s hard to believe so many years have passed. At the beginning, in the mid 90s, Pink challenged IT professionals to embrace, not just technical certification, but to also learn about process management. And you did. Since then, millions of people all over the world have learned about ITIL, ISO, Lean IT, Six Sigma, COBIT, just to name a few. 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 enormously proud of the major role we have played in this industry-wide and global transformation. You know, Pink has led the way, and each year at this event we aim to provide you with ever-expanding knowledge that you can take back home to help with your business improvements.

    We aim to have you leave feeling inspired to re-energize and re-focus your continuous process improvement initiatives back home. Many of you know that we also like to have a bit of fun with our theme. This year’s conference theme is “IT Super-Heroes Driving Business Change” – a bit of fun, but with a serious message.

    Today we live in a business era of superhuman challenges! It’s true, isn’t it? The question IT leaders have to ask is this: Are you and your IT teams UP for the task? Are you mild mannered Clark Kent, or are you faster than a speeding bullet like Superman? Things are happening at such a rapid pace. What you thought you had under control yesterday, is suddenly changing again today. Am I right?

    At this conference we’ve created a program to help you understand what other IT Superheroes have done to successfully manage and drive business change. And, since our area of focus is IT Service Management, we’ve specifically gathered for you many ITSM Super-Heroes. So, what do these Superheroes do? What makes them stand out? Well, in comic strip terms, let me tell you what they do …

    POW! ITSM Superheroes know how to fight off the evil villains of the work place, including that super villain known as, Complacency.

    KA- BOOM! ITSM Superheroes blow up barriers that stand in their way by applying tenacity and persistence. They are bold and brave.

    WOOOOSH! ITSM Superheroes take to the skies inspiring others to climb to ever-growing heights of excellence.

    Holy Fit For Purpose Batman! Whether it’s ITIL, ISO, COBIT, whatever - ITSM Superheroes understand the concepts of applying fit for use and fit for purpose to ward off irrelevancy & bureaucracy.

    Seriously though, in real life terms, here’s what IT Superheroes do. Put simply, they all get RESULTS. 

    Now, here is my list of 8 key traits that ITSM Superheroes possess. There are many more than just 8, but these are ones I want to highlight for you now.

    Number 1
    ITSM Superheroes speak “business-ese” - the language of business. They get meaningful results. And, more specifically, ITSM Superheroes are able to measure business results. Allstate Insurance, the 2007 Project Of The Year award winner, has numerous ITSM wins. They know how to put their IT successes into words, metrics and numbers that C-level executives notice. Catch their presentations here at the conference, by Cathy Kirch and Patrick Soule. You know, it is relatively easy to demonstrate ITSM improvements using the language of IT… fewer incidents, faster resolution, increased response to requests, higher availability, etc. But, demonstrating real value to the business by speaking the language of business, is the bigger challenge, and the bigger value add. 

    Number 2
    ITSM Superheroes are faster than a speeding bullet. They are proactive and enable change.  They also understand and embrace John Kotter’s model for “Leading Change”, and the important step in the model of “managing quick wins”. A good example is Laura Fucci, CIO, City of Henderson Nevada… at this event she is presenting her IT organization’s “30 Day Quick Win Plan” describing her team’s initiatives to make improvements – any improvements – and make them quickly. Another example is last year’s Project of the Year winner, University of Alberta. Sarah Sentes is here to tell you about their 9 month ITSM implementation success story.

    Number 3
    ITSM Superheroes are business people first, not IT people. They understand where IT fits into their organization’s corporate vision. Take for example, Ed Marx, CIO, Texas Health Resources, and a finalist for this year’s IT Leader of the Year award. He and his IT team embrace the view “What we do save lives” –  by embracing this statement they’ve connected everything they do in IT to that one shared vision – what we do saves lives.

    Number 4
    ITSM Superheroes are tenacious and persistent – never give in; never give up – they know how to break down barriers. And, they have found the right way to “ignite” enthusiasm in others by mobilizing and energizing them in very effective and productive ways. A great example of these traits is another finalist for IT Leader of the Year award, Cindy Trudeau, IT Director, Presbyterian Health Care. Catch her presentation to hear first hand her “nothing is going to stop us” attitude!

    Number 5
    When it comes to ITIL specifically, which many of you are using as a framework, ITSM Superheroes know that you don’t need every part of ITIL, and you know which parts to use. ITSM Superheroes use ITIL for what it is, a collection of accepted best practice guidance.  They take what they need, when they need it. Modify it if they want, or need to. They have learned how to use ITIL guidance as just that – guide-books, not play-books! To hear more about these important concepts, attend today’s session led by Rob England that features a summary of the Pink Think Tank session help here on Saturday. Rob will tell you about an important shift in IT, and that most of you are not ready to address this shift. The Pink Think Tank is reporting that everything that IT has been doing in the past is now no longer enough. ITIL is still fit for purpose: but you must reprioritize the ITIL practices, especially Supplier Management and Service Portfolio Management.  Attend his session to learn more.

    Number 6
    ITSM Superheroes are familiar with, and use many best practice frameworks, standards, and models to transform IT and to achieve business excellence. It’s not just about ITIL. ITSM Superheroes know which parts to use from which models, and to make them fit their business goals and priorities. We’re lucky that our conference program includes many presentations from IT managers who are looking beyond ITIL and who are using Lean IT, Agile, COBIT, ISO along with ITIL, or sometimes not. These presentations include award winning CIO, Niel Nickolaisen, from Western Governors University, and AVP,Tom Paider & Process Architect Jeff Gorby, both from Nationwide – another former Project of the Year award winner. 

    Number 7
    ITSM Superheroes are 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. Attend the presentation by Elaine Lauritzen, Managing IT Director, Brigham Young University, and a former Practitioner of the Year award winner. For several years, her IT organization has been on a journey of ITSM excellence, and they are a good example of people who believe that when it comes to CSI - “there is no finish line”.

    Number 8
    ITSM Superheroes get results because they know how to turn knowledge acquired from education and certification, into skills, and they know how to turn skills into results. Let me expand on that: successful IT organizations know how to turn knowledge into changed behavior, and they know how to manage this changed behavior to generate desired outcomes and a service minded, business culture. An example is IT VP Glen Taylor, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Attend his presentation to hear how they’ve taken 700 people through ITSM education.

    So, there you have it – 8 key traits I think ITSM Superheroes possess. And while I’ve named only a few Superheroes from our conference program, the agenda is filled with numerous people who will inspire you with their stories and their thought leadership. And, actually, for the next few days you are all Superheroes because you are here to expand your horizons and to learn from others, and I applaud you for seeking truth, justice and the IT excellence way - for your organizations.

    Before I close off I want to take a moment to say thank you to a few important people. One is Rob England who I mentioned a moment ago. Some of you know him as The IT Skeptic, a Superhero in his own right. Someone who has spoken the truth for many years even when it has been extremely controversial. Rob has helped us put together this year’s Pink Think Tank. A group consisting of some of the industry’s most respected ITSM minds, including, Pink’s own Troy DuMoulin and Jack Probst, as well as Karen Ferris, Charles Betz, Charles Araujo, David Cannon, Rodriqo Flores and James Finister. Thank you all very much. There are 2 sessions at this event that profile the results of this year’s Pink Think Tank – don’t miss them!

    Next, I’d like to thank Axelos – the new owners of ITIL - and its CEO Peter Hepworth for joining us here from England. Peter will be here on-stage later to make a very important announcement. And you can also attend Peter’s presentation tomorrow to learn about the “ITIL Roadmap’.

    Thank you to the vendor community and to our exhibitors for supporting our conference. A special thank you to this year’s Platinum sponsor, BMC. All exhibitors enrich our program and so thank you all for being here.

    Thank you to the staff of the Bellagio who we’ve worked with for many years to bring you this conference.

    Thank you to all our Pinkers – our conference team, our trainers and consultants, our customer service team. I am truly blessed to work with such an amazing group of very talented people.

    Thank you to all our speakers this week, and especially those of you presenting case studies who come along to share your successes, lessons learned, and your trials and tribulations, so that others do not have to reinvent the wheel.

    Thank you to our keynotes. The world is filled with truly inspirational people, and we try each year to bring you the best, including this year’s opening keynote, who you will hear from in a few moments, Commander Chris Hadfield, a true Superhero! From him we learn “the sky is not the limit”.

    So, let me now close off now by saying, over the next few days I hope that all you IT Superheroes will inspire others with your own stories. And be inspired yourselves to go back to your organizations and implement at least a few good ideas. As we move together through the conference this week, I ask all of you to talk about and share successes about what is going on in your organizations to fight off evil villains.  And, don’t worry there is no kryptonite here at Pink14! So have fun and enjoy the super program we have put together for you.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/17 at 06:29 PM
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    Tuesday, February 04, 2014

    Pink Interviews Peter Hepworth, CEO, Axelos

    The “Best Management Practices” (including PRINCE 2 and ITIL) previously owned by the British government’s Cabinet Office are now owned and managed by Axelos. We recently sat down with Peter Hepworth, the CEO of Axelos, to ask him about his vision for the future of Axelos and the eco-system of services that surrounds the BMPs. You can read the full interview here.


    Also, you can meet with Peter and his team at Pink14 - the 18th Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition - later this month in Las Vegas. They’ll be participating in at least two workshop sessions; providing you plenty of opportunities to ask them whatever you want!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/04 at 11:27 AM
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    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    Sing-A-Long With Commander Chris Hadfield!

    If you’ve been to our annual conference before you’ll know we like to have a little fun in amongst all the serious learning. This year will be no exception. One idea we’ve come up with should provide a bit of a thrill for a lucky Pink customer.

    Our opening keynote speaker is Commander Chris Hadfield, who gained worldwide recognition last year for his mission to the International Space Station. While he was there he recorded an out-of-this-world performance of David Bowie’s ”Space Oddity” which has gone on to generate over 20 million views on YouTube.

    We’re very fortunate that Cmdr Hadfield has agreed to reprise his Space Oddity performance at Pink14, and he’s also graciously agreed to welcome one of our lucky attendees to accompany him!

    So if you can play Space Oddity on an acoustic guitar and would like to join Cmdr Hadfield on-stage – here’s your chance:

    1. Record a 2-3 minute audition video of your version of Space Oddity.
    2. Post it to YouTube.
    3. Tweet the link with the #Pink14 hashtag.

    We’ll look at the “entries” and chose a lucky winner. How cool is that?!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/30 at 02:22 PM
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    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Honesty

    I’m spending a lot of time these days preparing for my half-day “ITSM Leadership MasterClass” workshop next month in Las Vegas. One area I’m learning more and more about are the positive traits that great leaders have in common. Specifically, what it is that causes us to follow a leader.

    One thing is clear, if you’re an ITSM leader, it’s not enough just to follow a set of “leadership rules” and expect to see everyone fall into place behind you. It’s not as simple as that! There are occasions when great judgment is needed and the wrong decision can send everyone spinning off in the wrong direction - no matter how smart, honest, determined, confident or clear you might be in your messaging.

    For example, if you’re anxious for people to buy-in to your vision, it must be tempting to stretch the truth a bit, talking things up to make it sound like we’re all headed for utopia and there are no risks. But one leadership trait that crops up again and again is how raw honesty can be put to good use to really get across how important the issues are.

    Here’s a couple of examples of what I mean.

    We have since learned that Winston Churchill and his government during the Second World War were very selective with the truth day-to-day during the conflict. The justification being that publishing bad news would affect morale. Well, in Churchill’s first speech to the House of Commons after his appointment as Prime Minister in May 1940 he had this to say:

    “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say - It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us. To wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word, it is “victory”. Victory at all costs; victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be.

    Wow! Chillingly honest for sure! But also inspiring, don’t you think? People must have thought “This is going to be tough. Don’t know if we’ll succeed, but we MUST give it every effort.”

    And then this example. The famous advert that Earnest Shackleton is reputed to have used to recruit men for his expedition to the South Pole:

    “Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete dark-ness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

    Wow! Would you sign up for that?

    Well, both Shackleton & Churchill are often referred to as “great leaders”. They had a way with words and you have to say, at least in these two examples, they were as honest as the day is long!

    I’m looking forward to discussing many more fine leadership qualities with everyone in the MasterClass next month.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/23 at 05:06 PM
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    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Pink14: It’s Not ALL About The Internet. Or Is It?

    It’s just over 4 weeks until our 18th Annual International ITSM Conference & Exhibition.

    I’ve spent the last few days getting myself just a little bit excited about the prospect of connecting with old and new friends and learning about some of the evolutionary trends affecting ITSM. Some of these trends have been around for a while (cloud, BYOD, mobile, social media) but they continue to evolve through the development of new technologies, services and the new habits of people. Other trends are grabbing our attention and will surely be talking points for many more years ahead, such as 3D printing and increasing concerns over privacy. And with the convergence of BYOD, mobile and innovative cloud-based services we’re now hearing about “The Internet of Things”!

    Everytime I think about any of these subjects I wonder “How does this affect ITSM?” That’s what we need to be considering. I plan to share with you my views in Wednesday’s half-day workshop “The ITSM Leadership MasterClass”.

    Looking forward to hearing your views and experiences at Pink14!

    Are you ready?

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/13 at 12:30 PM
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    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    Official Statement From Pink On The Increased ITIL Exam Fees From January 1, 2014

    I’ve already blogged a few times on this subject.

    I’ve attached the official statement we’re making available to our customers explaining what we’re doing about the ITIL exam fee increase that becomes effective January 1, 2014.

    ITIL_Exam_Fees_From_January_1,_2014.pdf

    Unfortunately the increase has become unavoidable, but we’ve come up with some interesting tactics for keeping costs down overall for our customers.

    The important points to note are:

    1. Our ITIL Education prices and pricing strategy will change on January 17.
    2. All ITIL exams will cost more.
    3. After January 17 customers will be able to buy Live Classroom, Virtual Classroom & Self-Paced Online ITIL courses from the Pink website with or without exams.
    4. The total cost of courses with an ITIL exam goes up in many instances, but actually goes down in some (due to other cost savings we’ve been able to make).
    5. Until January 17 everything remains unchanged. So buy now and avoid paying more for your ITIL exams in 2014!

    If you have any questions or comments please feel free to get in touch with me right here by posting a comment, or call our Customer Service Representatives.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/18 at 01:03 PM
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    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Hindsight v Foresight

    We often talk - usually in a rather cynical way - about “the benefits of hindsight”. But great leaders, really great leaders, can think through issues and connect dots to come to a very clear picture of the future - foresight. Combine this reasoning with the ability to speak eloquently and plainly and you often can have no doubt, and no misunderstandings, of the message the leader wants to get across.

    One of my favourite examples comes from the eve of the American Civil War. William Tecumseh Sherman, famous for his ruthless methods once the war was underway, made this chilling and severe finger-wagging speech to the confederate states as they were threatening to secede from the Union.

    You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.

    If only we had such clear thinking and speaking from our leaders today.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/11 at 04:20 PM
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    Thursday, December 05, 2013

    Q & A On ITIL Exam Price Increases

    Question
    Why are some Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) reporting different % price increases for ITIL exams?

    Answer
    I’ve seen quite a few comments through various social media channels this week showing some confusion about what’s going on behind the scenes when it comes to the new cost of ITIL exams.

    Some seem to be under the impression that Axelos is charging everyone different rates because different ATOs are quoting different price increases. At first glance that may seem odd, but if you understand how exams are provisioned and sold by Exam Institutes (EIs) then you’ll see how different ATOs can report different price increases. Here’s what I mean:

    1. Axelos does not actually sell ITIL exams.
    2. Axelos charges a royalty to the Exam Institutes (EIs) for each exam the EI sells.
    3. The EIs are all charged the same royalty for the exams they provision to their customers. So each EI has the same cost to bear.
    4. The EIs are free to set their own prices for exams.
    5. So any ATO could, and should, shop around for the best deal.
    6. You can imagine that different ATOs will end up paying different prices for a variety of reasons (volume of exams bought; whether paper or online exams; payment terms negotiated; any other added-value services they might require; etc.)
    7. From my narrow view of this market (I’m only privy to the arrangement Pink has with our EI) my guess is that ATOs have probably paid anything between US$75 - US$250 per exam (my very rough estimate).
    8. No matter how much anyone pays for an exam, Axelos receives the same royalty payment from the EI.

    So keeping all this in mind, if the royalty goes up - it goes up by the same amount for everyone. The price the ATO will pay will need to increase, but the % increase will differ based upon the price the EI charges its ATOs.

    For example, say an ATO pays $100 to the EI for an exam. And say the EI pays Axelos a $50 royalty out of that $100. If the royalty were to go up to $100, then the exam would now cost $150 and the ATO experiences a 50% increase in its exam fee.

    However, if another ATO was already paying $200 per exam; and the royalty change was the same - $50 to $100 - then the new exam fee would be $250 and this ATO would see a 25% increase.

    The % increase all depends on how much the ATO is paying the EI for the exam. That’s why there are variances in % increases.

    NOTE
    The figures I’ve used in my example are made up by me. They’re for illustrative purposes only.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/05 at 01:51 PM
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    Tuesday, December 03, 2013

    The Good News, Bad News & Lessons Learned From “The Great ITIL Exam Fee Increase Scare Of 2013”

    I already blogged about the frustrations we’ve experienced waiting for the final details of the impending ITIL exam fee increase.

    In fact, here at Pink HQ there’s been a LOT of hot air expounded in the past 3-4 weeks about this, culminating in a “Hot Air Fest” lasting a couple of days at the end of last week! The target of our frustrations being the ITIL Accreditor (Axelos) and the EI community (Pink’s primary EI being PeopleCert).

    Between those two “groups” they’ve just taken way too long to roll out this major change. In the process I believe they lost sight of the impact on their customers - the ATO community and the exam students themselves.

    Anyway, while we were waiting for the Accreditor and EIs to sort things out we didn’t just sit on our hands. We went into a huddle and came up with some policy statements about how we wanted to handle this situation.

    Firstly, we took the bull by the horns and reached out to the CEOs at Axelos & PeopleCert to let them know what we thought. I can’t give you a verbatim report of those conversations, but what I can say is that it felt good! We managed to get our concerns across loud and clear. In return we received assurances that this was not what we can expect in future. Acknowledgement of a decent lead time when rolling out changes is now embedded into the thinking of the “powers that be”. So there’s been a big “lesson learned” right there. I can tell they’re more than a bit embarrassed by the way things have unfurled and they won’t let this sort of thing happen again.

    Secondly, I challenged our team to come up with ways we can save on costs to mitigate the increase in exam fees for our customers. After all, our customers keep telling us they’re being challenged to do more with less. Budgets get frozen (at best) or reduced year after year in IT. That’s just the way the world works. In order to reign in escalating expenditures we all have to look at ways to increase efficiencies and productivity. At Pink we shouldn’t think we’re any different. Our first reaction at a time of stress like this shouldn’t be just to pass on increases to customers. I’m not saying we can always absorb every increase in costs, but we should at least try to look for savings we can pass on. It’s the right thing to do. It would be just plain lazy and arrogant to do otherwise.

    So, with that commitment in mind - what happens next? Well, let’s take a big breath and acknowledge the bad news.

    We now know that ITIL exam fees are going up by almost 100%. So what are we, at Pink, going to do about it? I always like to look at the opportunities that come along with problems. The problem here being the impending increase in costs. So how can that provide us with an opportunity?

    We’re looking for cost savings anywhere we can find them in our Education business. By reducing costs elsewhere then hopefully we can avoid charging our customers more for training, even when the exam fee has increased. There are still more sums to be done, and we need to work through changes to some of our processes to see if our ideas for cost savings definitely can be realized. But in the meantime we’re going to absorb the increased exam costs as best we can and look at things again early in the new year. So that’s the good news! if you look at our website you’ll see training courses today cost the same as they did last week. And we’re not going to increase prices in the foreseeable future.

    It would be irresponsible of me to say prices will never go up, but at least I can tell you there’s no increase planned right now. If we do have to make some increase, then it won’t be for a while yet.

    So take advantage - book your ITIL training & certification with confidence now! Whether you want to do a course next week, or in January, or next July (whenever) register now and you’ll pay today’s fee, no matter what the price might be later.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/03 at 01:49 PM
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    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Hold On, This Is Going To Be A Bumpy Ride!

    The “stuff” is really starting to hit the fan in the world of ITIL exams. In particular the impending price increase.

    Yes - in case you haven’t heard - ITIL exam prices are going up from January 1st. Unfortunately, the folks that pull the strings are continuing to mis-manage the whole process and - as of today - we still don’t know what the actual cost of an ITIL exam will be less than 5 weeks from now! Some Examination Institutes (EIs) have informed some of their Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) but not everyone has been told - Pink being one who’s still waiting. The excuse we’ve been given is that the Accreditor (Axelos) still has not told the EIs what additional procedures they need to see in place to improve quality etc. So the EIs fear they may have increased costs which they’ll need to pass on. Whatever!

    Come on guys - get yourselves sorted out and start treating your customers with some respect! We have an order book of over 1000 exams to be delivered after January 1st. Those customers have contracted at 2013 prices for their exams. You don’t expect us to go back and ask them for more do you? This isn’t a Charles Dickens novel we’re living in here!

    I have a lot more to say on this subject as a result of some emergency planning meetings we’ve undertaken here at Pink HQ the past couple of days. So watch this space.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/27 at 04:50 PM
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    Thursday, November 07, 2013

    My Session Materials From Today’s 9th Annual ITSM Conference in Mexico City

    Today I presented “How To Justify An IT Business Alignment Project To Executive Management” at Pink’s 9th Annual ITSM Conference here in Mexico City.

    I began my talk by explaining how today - November 7 - is a very, very, very significant day for me, and how it is actually linked to today’s topic - “Alignment”.

    Thank you to all the wonderful people who spoke to me afterwards with warmth in their hearts and smiles on their faces. You know who you are! And my very best wishes especially to Roberto. Good luck, buddy!

    Today’s session materials are here.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/07 at 08:24 PM
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