A Brief Review of Creating and Driving Service Excellence
Creating and Driving Service Excellence looks like a handy tool for selling ITSM to the bosses.
In my recent post on BoK Bloat I said:
I worked damn hard to keep my new book Basic Service Management down to 50 pages. Why? Because that's how the world works. With the exception of the few pontificating philosophers of ITSM who lurk on this blog (self included), who the hell reads 2000 pages of ITIL? 2000! A4 pages at that.
Nobody reads anything properly any more. When was the last time you went to a meeting and anybody had properly read the proposal or brief or whatever document you had spent a day crafting? Do we seriously think anyone outside a few eccentric wonks are ever going to read these doorstep BoKs?
So what happens when ITIL authors try to condense the material?
Sharon Taylor's Creating and Driving Service Excellence is a 60-tiny-pages introduction to ITSM for business executives. As almost every reader of this blog will know, Sharon was Chief Architect of ITIL V3 and author of the
Official Introduction to ITIL. Now she turns her hand to the challenging task of introducing business execs to service management in a pocket-book.
I really believe writing small books is harder than writing big ones. And overall Sharon has pulled it off. The book is more of a sales brochure in places, ("It's time you knew what they know"), but then that was clearly its purpose. The book is a persuasion tool for ITSM proponents to get the support of more senior executives by selling the benefits.
Maybe I'm just sensitive but it seemed a bit patronising in a few places, a teaching of egg-sucking. Then again, given the standard of most management in the Western world it is probably fair to talk from a low base.
Then there are the same tired old statistics about the financial returns from Johnson and Johnson, Proctor and Gamble and - yes - the good ol' Government of Ontario. We now apparently have Capital One, Visa, JP Morgan Chase, Shell and Avaya claiming similar miracles, but really this is a sad collection of unsubstantiated boasts to show for thirty years of ITSM.
But these are minor quibbles. The book does its job well. It speaks the execs' lingo; it lays out the case logically; and it is small enough that even the most illiterate of managers might attempt it.
Some of the points even warmed this old skeptical heart:
- "The ITSM industry gets itself wound up around ITSM as a technology-enabled management practice"
- ITIL is treated as just one framework amongst several, including COBIT. there's hope for itSMF yet.
- "In the ITSM industry you'll find everything from self-proclaimed evangelists, experts, pundits and sceptics" to ninjas, gurus, zealots, girls, guys, punks, geeks, and of course queens (Sharon's twitter name is ITSMQueen).
- "You really are already vested in ITSM to some degree"
- "ITSM tools are a hotbed market ripe [sic] with both good and bad advice"
- "beware of the ITSM zealot"
- "No amount of technology, process [...] can replace [a] cultural acceptance and sense of value for ITSM within the workforce"
If there is a theme I'd have liked to see more of, it is that ITSM is about changing culture, changing the way people think and behave. Change to practices and tools flow from that. ITIL doesn't talk about that much, whereas it should be the front-and-centre foundational concept. This book is better, it spends one of ten sections on it.
Perhaps any book is a big ask for overworked execs. itSMF should follow this book up with a 10-minute video and a scripted PPT - these have more hope of getting through in this millennium. Once the next generations get in charge, they'll need to tweet it one line at a time, and set up a fanpage.
Actually my biggest issue with this book is the price: £25 or $45. Plus shipping. It's good but it's not that good. This hardly helps advance the cause, itSMF! (Makes my introduction to SM for twenty bucks look like a bargain: clearly itSMF have been taking pricing lessons from Apple).
I'll be buying a few (very few) more copies of Creating and Driving Service Excellence to use as a strategic weapon for aligning senior execs and getting their sign-off. I'll let you know how they work - looks to me like they will.