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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

If you're interested in what we're doing here at Pink Elephant, then feel free to post a comment - I'll do my best to respond as quickly as I can.


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    Recent Entries

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Stunt Of The Week At Pink15

    We got up to some silly stunts at last week’s Conference - but this was the one that will stick in my mind the most!

    George Spalding - what were you thinking?!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/24 at 11:14 AM
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    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    My Top 5 Most Valuable Leadership Characteristics For ITSM

    Here’s a copy of the visuals I used in my session yesterday afternoon at Pink15:


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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/17 at 11:04 AM
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    Friday, January 30, 2015

    Leadership Learning At Pink15

    I’m looking forward to hearing the fruits of Dr. George Westerman’s research on how some IT leaders have achieved significant advantages for their businesses through the application of a digital mindset.

    I’ve been saying for a few years now that I don’t think our ITSM leaders have paid enough attention to the evolving world of IT services when it comes to the increasing effect of BYOB, cloud, mobile, social media and big data.

    You can see George deliver his session “Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation” on Monday morning.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/30 at 01:21 AM
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    Friday, January 16, 2015

    The Next Challenge For ITSM Leaders

    The subject of “ITSM leadership” has been close to my heart for a few years now. So much so that we decided to launch a new annual event in 2012 - the “ITSM Leadership Forum” - to provide insights and advice to the people in ITSM charged with embracing a vision and leading their IT organization to enable positive business results. I felt as an ITSM community we had not done enough to stay ahead of the curve - which is one of the prime tenets of good leadership. Over the next two years, in 2013 and 2014, the event became a solid date in the calendar for many of our respected industry thinkers and practitioners. (Watch out for the 2015 program - to be published soon!)

    As social media emerged in 2010-2012 we seemed to miss the boat to provide leadership to our businesses. And now, in 2014 & 2015, it’s starting to look like Cyber Security & Resilience could be the next big thing many of us just watch happen! For example, how many organizations have actually changed policies for email as a result of the Sony hacking scandal?. Is that just Sony’s problem? Or could it happen here? Remember, the damage was less about theft or destruction of assets (money, data, etc.) and more about embarrassment and brand damage. It wasn’t the technology that actually wrote those mean and unprofessional emails! We wouldn’t let our people make such remarks in a public speech, or an interview, or in an external letter. So why is it allowed internally? I think it’s time we extended our policies for professional behaviour to the heretofore world of trusted internal emails!

    I can assure you that we aren’t waiting for the next ITSM Leadership Forum in August to reinforce good leadership practices. In just a few weeks many of us will be at Pink15, and the program there is rich in guidance for the aspiring, and incumbent, ITSM leader. We have two whole tracks aimed at leaders: “The 3 I’s of Leadership” and “CIO Forum”.

    Over the next couple of weeks I’ll profile some of the sessions in these tracks I feel are not to be missed. So come back here over the next few days and join me in whetting our collective appetites for Pink15!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/16 at 03:31 PM
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    Monday, January 05, 2015

    Cyber Insecurity Comes As Much From People As From Technology

    These days I’m doing lots of reading about cyber insecurity - seems like there’s a never ending series of security breaches related to IT hitting the news every day. (I won’t bore you with the list - you know what I mean, they’ve been in all the papers!)

    For the layman is appears that our computer systems are just not robust and resilient enough. But when you scratch below the surface there’s more to it than that. We’ve always been good at blaming the computers when something goes wrong. IT folks seemed to have a free pass for years when their poor planning and lack of testing resulted in downtime. The reason for the outage, or screwed up data, was simply described as “... a computer error ...”

    But today we’re all a bit more knowledgeable and demanding as IT consumers and we won’t be fobbed off with that type of excuse anymore. We have our own devices and personal data, and the average person is their own IT organization - from strategist to support officer. However, I think we still put too much emphasis on the power and role of the infrastructure and have not yet fully realized the responsibilities of the users - that’s us!

    Cyber security is as much about human behaviour as it is about the latest security systems and technologies. For example, that smartphone you’re carrying around has a ton of security capabilities built into it, but if you leave the device laying around with no passcode to prevent unauthorized access .... well, you don’t need me to spell out how all that corporate data can be compromised.

    This whole human dimension on security is illustrated perfectly by Eugene Spafford, Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University when he says ...

    “Using encryption on the Internet is the equivalent of arranging an armored car to deliver credit card information from someone living in a cardboard box to someone living on a park bench.”

    Get the message now?

    As I said, I’m spending time researching this subject - in preparation for some very important new Pink events later this year. Starting with Pink15 - the 19th Annual IT Service Management Conference in Las Vegas next month - where we will, as usual, address a host of ITSM issues, best practices in Lean IT, and more. We’ll also be introducing news about our inaugural 1st Annual Pink Elephant Cyber Resilience Summits (in Washington D.C. and London, UK) in June.

    There’ll be some preliminary Cyber Resilience sessions at Pink15 to whet our appetite, including some advanced news of the new Cyber Resilience Best Practice from Axelos.

    I hope to see you in Las Vegas! Meanwhile, think about what you can do to keep your data and infrastructure safe. And when you hear news of the next high profile security breach, try to resist the temptation to giggle. Instead, think to yourself “How can I be sure that won’t happen to us?”

    You might not know what else to do to be more cyber secure, but you can always be more cyber resilient.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/05 at 05:22 PM
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    Sunday, December 07, 2014

    The First ITSM Conference In Asia - July 1998!

    I was cleaning up in my office today (yes, I know, it’s Sunday!) and came across some documentation from the very first event that introduced “IT Service Management” to the IT marketplace in Asia.

    Specifically, in partnership with PDA, we presented a 2-day conference in KL and later the same week in Singapore - July 27-31, 1998. The very first ITIL Foundation courses in Asia were presented that week too!

    The program was not too extensive, but the speakers were real ITSM heavy hitters at the time!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/07 at 04:58 PM
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    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Pink’s CEO Scores A Hat Trick!

    At Pink we already knew we had the best female business owner in Canada, now it’s official!

    Last Friday night in a glittering ceremony in New York City, Pink Elephant’s CEO, Fatima Cabral, walked away from the Stevie Awards with recognition in 3 different categories!

    Gold Stevie Award
    Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Canada

    Silver Stevie Award
    Woman of the Year - Business Services

    Bronze Stevie Award
    Female Entrepreneur of the Year - Business Services (11 to 2,500 Employees)

    Congratulations Fatima!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/17 at 08:37 PM
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    Friday, November 14, 2014

    Good Luck At The Stevie Awards!

    Pink’s CEO, Fatima Cabral, is at the Stevie Awards in New York City tonight. She’s a finalist in the category “Female Entrepreneur of the Year: Business Services”.

    Good luck Fatima!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/14 at 01:50 AM
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    Thursday, November 06, 2014

    I Got A Full Dance Card For PinkNORTH!

    Let me make this clear - you won’t be seeing me dancing, at PinkNORTH or anywhere else soon. Trust me - not what you want to see.

    Instead I will be busy, busy, busy with the following sessions:

    Is The Service Desk Dead? - A panel discussion seeking to clarify and predict where the Service Desk function is headed. With Tony Krasinski (Eerie Insurance), Ellen Daley (Acorio) and Zahra Rahemtulla (Enigma Consulting)

    Scary Movie: Part 6 - Another panel discussion, this time about the various disruptive technologies that make delivering and supporting corporate IT services such a challenge today. At Pink we introduced this topic way back at the Pink11 Conference with the introductory video “Are You Ready?” I’m joined on the panel by David Mainville (Navvia), Andrew Moses (Freshdesk) and Kevin Brown (Cogeco).

    The Dragon’s Den Of ITSM: Or, How To Justify An ITSM Improvement Project To Executive Management - One of the more popular sessions I’ve delivered at a few other industry events in the past couple of years. if you want to be well prepared to argue your case with your boss - I’ll tell you how to do that!

    Leading Change: Kotter’s 8 Step Model- One of the most enduring subjects we’ve presented at Pink events over the years. Since we invited Professor John P. Kotter to speak at our very first Executive Forum in Toronto this topic has been a mainstay in the raft of advice our Consultants give to ITSM practitioners the world over. If you’re expecting people to embrace your good ideas, better make sure you’ve double-checked your approach against Professor Kotter’s 8 steps!

    10 Key Actions To Implement When You Get Back To The Office - A fine wrap-up keynote session to mnake sure you leave this year’s Conference with some specific and practical tasks to get started on the very next day! In this quick-fire session I’ll be introducing some of our best local Pink talent: Graham Furnis, Barry Brown, Troy DuMoulin, Jennifer Wels, Graham Price & Matt Bowles.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/06 at 05:12 PM
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    Monday, November 03, 2014

    Leadership Sessions At Pink15: Colin Powell’s Book

    I have 3 sessions in “The 3 ‘I’s of Leadership” track at Pink15.

    The first one is a profile of General Colin Powell’s book “It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership”.

    I’m really looking forward to this session. It’s always great to discuss a book you loved, and with there being so many books on Leadership in the stores today (Amazon has an amazing 124,582 Leadership books listed!) - to find one that you cannot put down makes it really special.

    There’s tons of recommendations, experiences and stories I’ll be sharing from Gen Powell, so I hope to see you in the session!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/03 at 09:56 AM
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    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    Staying Power - Laurie Dolan Style!

    In just a few weeks we’re presenting PinkNORTH - the first Pink ITSM Conference in Canada since 1998. Laurie Dolan is one of the speakers and she was also one of only 9 speakers at the very, very first ITSM Conference in North America way back in December 1997!

    I don’t have an electronic copy of the brochure from that historic first event, but I do have a paper copy. I’ve attached here the first two pages. You can see Laurie’s session on page 2. I hope you’ve freshened things up since then, Laurie!

    Toronto in December in 1997, and Toronto in December in 2014 - we’re really making a habit of this aren’t we?

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 10/29 at 10:11 AM
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    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Pink University To Deliver “Fit For Purpose”.

    Looking ahead to “PinkNORTH” on December 8-9 there are a couple of immediate thoughts that struck me.

    Firstly, this is our first ITSM Conference in Canada since we presented the “2nd Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition” in Toronto in 1998. That’s right! While we’ve done lots of other events with specialized themes in Canada over the years, our BIG annual conference is now presented in Las Vegas each year but the 1st and 2nd Annual Conferences were presented in downtown Toronto. It’s good to be back!

    Secondly, one of the main tracks is called “Pink University”. Here we present information and guidance on how to adopt and work with IT management best practices, such as COBIT & ITIL, etc. This really speaks to the heart of what Pink Elephant is all about - providing knowledge on practices that can be adapted and adopted to enable valuable business results. “Adapted” being the key here - not just translating some theoretical concepts in a one-size-fits-all way, but making sure that good practices truly are fit for purpose.

    It seems that this really resonates with ITSM practitioners because we already have more sign-ups for PinkNORTH than we expected at this stage - and we’re still about 6 weeks out! So thanks to all those Canucks who’ve already reserved their places; and if you haven’t yet - what are you waiting for?!

    I hope to see you there!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 10/28 at 09:21 AM
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    Monday, October 20, 2014

    My Session Materials From Fusion14

    This is what I presented this afternoon How_To_Justify_An_ITSM_Improvement_Project_To_Executive_Management.pdf

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 10/20 at 05:57 PM
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    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    My Personal Take-Aways From the 3rd Annual ITSM Leadership Forum

    The majority of participants at any special event produced by Pink are there to increase their knowledge of ITSM practices and resources, and improve their capabilities to lead change back at the workplace.

    For me, my objectives are a bit different. Firstly, and most importantly, I need to find out if what we’re doing is hitting the mark. Are we meeting our customers’ needs? Are they really learning new ideas, and are they going away feeling inspired to do something with that new knowledge?

    I also want to know if the venue we chose is making that primary objective possible. Some venues create an environment which makes learning and networking easier and more productive. Other venues might not be quite so hospitable.

    Finally, I want to find out what new trends may be emerging in our industry. I may already have some topics in mind, but I need to validate their relative importance with our customers. Are they interested in ISO or COBIT? Do they continue to see mobile and cloud as challenges? What about social media and the continuing consumerization of IT - are they perceived as threats to ITSM?

    So how did it go at this year’s PinkFORUM14?

    There were lots of specific learning points from the dozens of sessions at this year’s event. Looking through the agenda (with 3 tracks it’s just not possible to attend every session) we clearly had some outstanding real-life experiences that were valued by our customers. Also our team of Pink Consultants continued to deliver practical and worthwhile advice for how to effect change. The anecdotal feedback we had on-site from some of our regular customers confirmed that our “session selection team” (Pattie & Fatima) did a great job once again. We had lots of remarks from customers saying that the content at this event was the best they’d ever experienced! In fact I recall talking with one individual who said she was really not too enthused about being there after her boss had basically said “You need to go!” Then, already after day 1, she said she was “blown away” by the amount of relevant content and the style of presentation. And let’s not forget those other customers of ours - the sponsors representing the IT services community. Not only did they have some of their best thought leaders and visionaries there to impress our practitioner customers, but they themselves found the opportunity to network highly worthwhile. Their feedback was just as pleasing to us. One of our goals is to provide an environment where relationships can be built and improved, connecting people no matter what their purpose for being there. So our primary objective of delivering a valuable learning experience was clearly met.

    The venue - Omni’s Montelucia Resort - got a big thumbs up from our customers. Our plan for no more than 200 attendees required a comfortable (luxurious even!) venue that promoted a feeling of quiet calm with minimum distractions. It also needed to be practical. Meaning meeting rooms, bedrooms and all essential facilities had to be in close proximity. The Montelucia met the challenge in all categories. Meetings rooms off a single lobby area, and no more than a 1 to 2 minute walk through beautiful landscaped gardens from even the most distant bedroom. There were a variety of bars and restaurants that provided enough diversity of choices for a 2-3 night stay. And I think one of the most popular features was the central pool area, which seemed to be well utilized late into the hot summer evening! So we’d have no hesitation going back to the Montelucia again. Having said that, there’s other criteria our event planners have to take into account when planning and selecting venues, not least being the availability for our preferred dates - so we’ll have to see!

    As for the confirmation, or otherwise, of emerging trends in our industry - there were no big surprises here (no one likes surprises anyway, right?) As we’ve noticed over recent years, US based organizations are not as charmed by the benefits of ISO as their counterparts elsewhere in the world. It has seemed odd to me that ISO 20000 - the standard for IT Service Management - has not garnered more interest in the USA. However COBIT, DevOps, Agile & Scrum get lots and lots of attention. Everyone continues to try and get to grips with mobile and the ongoing consumerization of IT technologies and services. For me, I think these are definite “leadership” issues. if we’re losing some control of IT resources - because they’re sourced externally - that does not mean we cannot exercise influence and promote knowledge of the risks and benefits.

    Overall then - we’re delighted to report another successful Pink event!

    In fact, the post-event structured feedback we’ve gathered and analyzed seems to confirm what we learned anecdotally - this year’s PinkFORUM event was the best yet, and is looking to be a permanent fixture in the calendar of ITSM leaders in the USA. Already we’ve had people asking us about next year’s event. That’s always a good sign!

    We’d be interested to know what you’d like to see next year. if you have suggestions for the type of content you need to see, and the way sessions are presented, don’t hesitate to let us know.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/16 at 10:16 AM
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    Monday, September 08, 2014

    ITSM Leadership Masterclass - Kuala Lumpur

    A great session today!

    Here’s the visual aids I used:


    Also, a link to the “Why” clip from Louis CK’s TV sitcom! Remember, if you really want to understand something - keep asking “Why?”

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/08 at 05:05 AM
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