Is ITIL adoption helping or hurting business? Is ITIL paralyzing organizations?
Organizations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on ITIL initiatives in the last ten years. However, Gartner’s Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) maturity model shows stagnant growth in an already abysmally low operational maturity. Why do you suppose that is? Is ITIL the problem, or is it the way in which it is utilized? What’s holding you back from ITIL Maturity?
Organizations today focus more on ITIL as a quick fix and less time on the actual needs of the organization. This “hit and run” mentality is a crutch that is used to further disengage from the reality that ITIL is not a silver bullet or smoking gun, but rather a long-term commitment. According to James Leahy, author of Instant Gratification, “humans aren’t wired to delay gratification and think in longer time frames so we usually sabotage our own success at one point or another by contaminating our own plan with short term thinking.”
Now for you process purists who are ready to tar and feather me, hear me out. Do you know people who are what you would consider “book smart” but have no “street smarts”? Well, the ITIL movement has created an army of “book smart” process owners. In my opinion, there is a large gap between theory and real-world adoption. Otherwise, why would I be facilitating a discussion around business problems in a workshop with company representatives who quote ITIL publications? The answer is simple: When adopting ITIL most organizations allow themselves to shift the focus off from the actual business objectives and goals. ITIL gives organizations a false sense of security and hinders their ability to make good, solid business decisions. Why? Because even if you know the publications verbatim, if you cannot “apply” that knowledge to your everyday business, an ever changing environment, then you cannot move forward or mature.
I’ve been to customer sites that have had multi-year ITIL initiatives. A typical first response is, “we have implemented ITIL,” and they are quite proud of themselves.
Myth #1: You don’t implement ITIL, you adopt and practice it! Do they have written policies, processes and procedures in place? Absolutely! Do they operate and do business in that manner? Seldom!
Myth #2: ITIL is a one size fits all. This is completely false. As a full figured woman, I can assure you, there is no such thing as one size fits all. ITIL is no different which is why you need to be able to adapt to your specific business needs to get the desired outcomes.
Recently, I read an article written by George Dvorsky entitled, The 12 Cognitive Biases that prevent you from Being Rational. One of the biases Dvorsky calls out is the Current Moment Bias. Dvorsky states, “We humans have a really hard time imagining ourselves in the future and altering our behaviors and expectations accordingly. ”
So I challenge you to do just that – focus on altering your behavior and engage in reality!
How can you achieve a balance between the books and the reality?
- Focus first on the needs of your organization and then on the many frameworks and references published and available to guide us (ITIL, COBIT, ISO20000, CMMI, etc.).
- Listen to your instincts, trust what you know and be open to what you don’t.
- Commit to forward movement and maturity as a lifelong practice, because it is.
- Understand that there is no ceiling on “best” practices. The better you get, the more you can strive to be better.
- Use frameworks that; make sense to your business, are measurable and sustainable, and disregard or throw out what does not.
- Seek the advice of experts and trusted advisors as needed throughout the journey, and become an advisor for someone else. We are a community that must support one another to change.
- Adopt change and visibility as a positive means to a successful outcome.
What are your thoughts on how to increase the adoption of ITIL to drive I&O maturity before the industry goes looking for another “silver bullet”?