Making ITIL Happen – Believing

I’ve been struck this week by the contrasting levels of success of the adoption of the ITIL framework in the workplace. I’ve often said that “you don’t need a degree in ITIL to follow processes”. By that I mean that if processes are crafted well enough, then most staff on the ground simply need to be trained in the specific processes relevant to their job.

Senior managers have attained ITIL qualifications (typically v2 Managers) and returned to their organisations with the mission of crafting processes for their organisation and adopting the best practice framework. Some have succeeded, some have not. And that has set me thinking about why this should be.

The most defining characteristic of those with a high success rate can be summed up in one word: “belief”.

Organisations achieve best practice when a culture change takes place and the team develops a common belief that processes are there to help; that better services are best provided when everyone can rely on everyone else to do their bit to the right quality.

I am reminded of the story of a visiting dignitary who visited Mission Control at NASA. A keen gardner himself, he approached a man tending the flower beds and asked what he was doing. The man mopped his forehead and replied simply: “I’m working to put a man on the moon”. That clarity of purpose was perhaps the most single factor in the success of the US space programme in the sixties and seventies.

Not all staff working in the IT service management areas need to be qualified ITIL experts but they do need to be experts in their organisations reason for being – seized of the organisation’s mission and objectives. They need to understand: why they are there; and to appreciate that their contribution is important to the overall success of the organisation.

They need to feel that they belong; that their ideas and opinions count. Good ITIL managers are first and foremost good managers. Without the inspiration and motivation, ITIL processes will gather dust on a shelf somewhere. It is the charisma, belief and vision of good managers that makes the difference.

Stuart Sawle