The Skeptical Informer, July 2007, Volume 1, No. 6

The newsletter of the IT Skeptic. All the IT skeptical news that is fit to print... and then some!

The dust is settling after the ITIL Version 3 launch. I've already said nice things in the May edition of this newsletter but it is appropriate to do so again. I congratulate OGC on the reception of the ITIL 3 content: a recent informal poll on the IT Skeptic site returned a nicely formed bell-curve between "useless" and "better than anything else". One imagines that coming from IT Skeptic readers the voters may be skewed towards the less-gruntled end of that spectrum, so I think Sharon and Co. you hit the spot. Thankyou!

[Disclaimer: voters were unverified so vote-stacking cannot be ruled out. It does happen online you know]

Rather than look back this month I want to look forward, to two significant upcoming events: the election of the itSMF International Board and itSMF USA Board.

International comes in for criticism on the blog from me and from readers, and obviously there is a pall cast over the USA Board at the moment by the Executive Director's abrupt departure ,and the fraudulent voting apparently of or on behalf of a member. (There is also the possibility that somebody fiddled the votes entirely without the knowledge of any Board member at all, for their own conspiratorial ends. Whoever it was they had some high-level database access. We await further revelations: as was said to me recently, this story is better than Harry Potter.)

The USA nominations have already closed, at the end of July. Quick, did you see it? The call for nominations was in the July Forum magazine and on the website (still is). I'm not sure for how long it was advertised (you might be able to call foul) or whether a late submission has any chance.

For International the notice is also terribly short: end of August. That is not a long time to talk to family, employer and supporters; make a decision; get yourself selected as the national Board candidate (which is distinct from the national representaive to International); then wend your way through the bureaucracy; so please get on it.

Just about all paid-up itSMF members are in fact eligible for these positions. So please give it some serious thought. Are you happy with the way the organisations are going? Could you do better? Would you like to contribute?

You can bet that mates in the inner circles have already been fingered for these positions for some time now, but that doesn't mean you won't win the vote. The US Board is elected by all members (as we are painfully aware right now), and only about 10% voted last time so anything could happen.

The International Board is elected by national chapters, i.e. one country one vote. The entire International Board is to be vacated this year (Chairman plus 6 Board members), so there never was a better time for an outsider to run. And many countries are not entirely happy so don't expect consistently establishment voting.

So think about it please! (Yes I did and no I won't be)

Finally, and also looking forward, please provide feedback on where you would like the IT Skeptic blog to be heading in the future. I've had some great comments but I'd like to hear from more of you.

This month I return to the approach of picking the most interesting comments from across the blog, and I am going to try to restrain myself to cherry picking instead of harvesting. This is not easy: I have often considered some sort of award for the best comment of the month but the quality of comments on this blog is so high I can never pick a winner. Thank-you to all the excellent contributors.

People

INFORMATION vs. RELATIONSHIPS | J J Prunty
...organizations don't run on information. They run on relationships - relationships with members, customers and suppliers and relationships between peers and colleagues. Information matters; but it's the quality of the relationships through which information is exchanged that ultimately determines the success of an organization...The mission is now shifting from "networks" - that enable people to better communicate to "worknets" that become a new organizational medium to innovate...
Codswallop | Lite Headed
...ITIL 3 has gone off into the life cycle of a service and along with most things has not paid sufficient attention to people, if we got the psychology correct then the need for process and rules would diminish...
Any project needs a business justification | derry
...ITIL is like Communism/Socialism - it is the greatest thing on the planet on paper and makes perfect sense. BUT...start involving people in it and the whole thing inevitably becomes corrupt - because people are corrupt, want power and influence, and don't want a service to work as basking in reflected glory isn't half as fun as, or full of kudos as, being Red Adair.
Why does the World Wide Web work? | Charles T. Betz
If it is the basis of human nature not to want to follow rules, why does the Web work?...I'd suggest it is because of a minimal number of non-optional constraints, coupled with an obvious value proposition....It's not about the process. It's about the benefits that become obvious through following the process...
Improving should be part of the job | ITMaturity
...Improvement programs are challenging, when you make it a program. When it is part of the day-to-day work to improve efficiency (first task, how to create time for further improvement) then it becomes much easier...
[and much more GREAT stuff on cultural change and process improvement on that thread]

iPhone

Myndless | MySvcMon
...I have an iPhone...the web experience is still likely to make you blind...
You can't pull a cow through a drainpipe | skeptic
You can't pull a cow through a drainpipe. The millions of WAP-enabled phones in the world have already proved that.
I've already got a phone that plays mp3 and browses the internet. As you say BFD. My phone has a 3.5" screen. And runs Windows. And it is too small to do business on. The iPhone doesn't change jack.
The iPhone | Alan Nance (not verified)
...Let's not knock marketing to the uninformed as a way to change the game and Apple does that better than anyone else...
[and much more discussion of the iPhone on that thread, for the three of you who haven't heard more than enough about the iPhone already]

CMDB

There is a difference between skepticism and cynicism | Charles T. Betz
"The whole idea of a system as large as SAP is a geek's fantasy, an idealist's nonsense." Oh -wait a minute - what was their stock price again? Some of these comments are crossing the line and don't seem very well informed...
Any project needs a business justification | skeptic
...You and I have debated this point before. I don't say CMDB can't be done in the physical sense; I say it can't be done within reasonable and justifiable expenditure of money and resources. Anything is possible. We can put a man on the moon but I wouldn't advise any company do it as an advertising stunt...
Public statement about IT management controls! | cotswolddave
...People manage despite lack of data, lack of process, lack of clear roles etc. - they still do their best with or without a CMDB. It takes a marketeer to say that grey is actually the brilliant white we have been looking for. With a reasonable CMDB implementation things are slightly whiter...
[and plenty more on CMDB on that thread]

ITIL3

small and silent changes | avallesalas
Suddenly, something has shocked me: ¡¡ they are talking about Service Management!! not about "IT Service Management"...we can now change the whole name of this thing from ITIL to SIL (Service Infrastructure Library)
ITIL v3 Relevance...everything old is new again | Glen Notman (not verified)
...If you used the whole library in the past, the new library is an evolution of a concept. But if you thought ITIL was just Service Support and Service Delivery, then you are having a paradigm shift...does anyone out there see a driving business case or desire for the Strategic elements[?]
Trick is to invite more people to the party | Jonathan Walls (not verified)
The new content in ITIL v3 is not new information in the marketplace - just new to the framework. Wise companies and vendors will look to experienced staff (irrespective of whether they have an ITIL background or not) to fill the strategy boxes, and use the ITIL v3 framework to set the context for discussions. Any strategist worth paying money for should not have a problem taking the Service Strategy book and using it as a starting point to present their standard consulting / planning approach in a light well suited to IT management...Yes, some people from an ITIL background are going to end up trying to teach experts in e.g. enterprise architecture to suck eggs, and will do themselves and their companies no favours in doing so...
And those tied to tools/technology | Langbard (not verified)
...claims of 'look we can implement our Cure/Hunting Bird software and that will help you do Strategy at board level' are going to look pretty silly. My guess is that the big consulting firms (who already have plenty of C level access) will simply remarket their current offerings as 'ITIL v3 conforming' and use their board level influence to sell them...
More than semantics | jimbo
...If you have consultants continuously on site over a period of years you might want to question what they are doing. If, on the other hand, they spend three months a year working with you then that's probably a good sign.
Indicator of what? | Visitor (not verified)
...Someone forgot to tell the ITSM community that, between 1993 and 1999, TQM fell from the third most commonly used business tool to the 14th, and declining fast. (The disaster called BPR speaks for itself.) I’m not disappointed ITILv3 did not further embrace this legacy...
Buy the ITIL3 books | ITMaturity
When ITIL2 was launched it got a lot of criticism from the community: we just started to implement ITIL1. The books were not particularly well written...Looking on the discussions on ITIL3 reminds me of that time as well. Pretty soon there were other, better, writers that wrote comprehensive books on ITIL and those became popular...

proof

The nature of proof | Visitor (not verified)
- Confirmation bias/errors: we focus on pre-selected segments of the observed and generalize it to the unobserved. "If org performance improves after an ITIL implementation, then ITIL raises org performance."
- The narrative fallacy: we fool ourselves with false causality because it makes sense and fills our thirst for a good story, as Taleb explained. "The ten most successful CIOs implemented ITIL. Ergo, if you want to be a successful CIO, implement ITIL."
...if someone is putting necks on the line with models that take risks by predicting something that can be proven wrong, I'd call that science.

Certification

Liz Gallacher Freelance | Liz Gallacher
I have always been able to say that people leave with a practical next step in mind, about how they will apply it back at the ranch. V3 does not and will not give them that. If the Foundation course had been extended by a day, we could have covered it all properly. I have very real concerns that companies will not see the value in the training any more...As for the managers certificate being replaced , and complex multiple-choice being the new approach...it should not be too much to ask that an expensive managers qualification means that the holder is able to respond to the sort of requests they might get in their workplace...
I really hope I'm right. | skeptic
...it is high time the IT industry in general and ITIL in particular had some robust qualifications beyond some facile multi-choice at the end of a few days lecturing labelled as training. Oh wait, that's what they've turned the Manager's into isn't it? I had a lot of respect for the fact that the old Manager's exam was one of the few real exams in the industry. Now we've dumbed it down to the illiteracy levels of the new market: the USA...
bachelor of ITSM | jvbon
...In the Netherlands we've already seen several bachelor and higher curriculae for IT Service Management since a couple of years...
What about the pin? | Ray (not verified)
...I'm not sure the certification is that important to me. I'll let you know if I retain that view after losing a contract because of v3 certification.
We'll know the new pin colours soon | skeptic
..the day I get my Manager's cert is the day
a) I can't get work without one and
b) there isn't a cheaper and more effective use of funds to get work
Yanks have the attention span of a TV commercial | skeptic
When i did my V2 Foundation - from Pink Elephant - it was 3 days. It is only in recent years it has been shortened to two by some providers in some countries. Since this seemed to coincide with the expansion of the US market, the cynic in me says this is because Yanks have the attention span of a TV commercial. (Ever notice how American TV programs - especially the "hard" ones like documentaries - explain the story so far all over again after a commercial break. Why is that?)
[Actually although I can never resist insulting my American friends, I wonder if the dumbing down of V3 certification is more driven by a desire to increase sales than any specific characteristics of the Amerrican market...perhaps]
V3 Foundation Flaws | Visitor (not verified)
...V2 [Foundation] therefore follows the curve and reflects what's actually happening. V3 Foundation unfortunately places everybody in the same boat and becomes a theoretical exercise with no context or link back to the real world. It is all theory with no anchors nor, from what I can see, does it necessarily reflect best practice. It has become an exercise in 'wouldn't it be great if...'...
And where does this go next? | HenryGale
...Considering the push by 'the powers that be' to encourage the idea of the IT Professional, an individual who takes recognised qualifications that are understood and respected in the market place, this has frankly made our 'profession' look distinctly amateurish, as we cannot even be seen to agree a suitable measure for our own skills.
[and much more great discussion of certification on that thread]

itSMF

don't be too hard on itSMF | skeptic
don't be too hard on itSMF, leastways not until we have the full story. lots of volunteer orgs run on trust. My recent experiences with ISACA suggest that itSMF has been a bit more casual than others but historically that was part of the charm of ITIL. it is easy to see how the stakes could creep higher and higher and catch the organisation unawares when the inevitable corruption seeps in. And right now we are looking at one rogue... Who's to say this is unique to itSMF? And why not be more disappointed with whoever scammed their way onto the board than with those who were trusting enough to let it happen?...
[yes it was really me who said this]
Not likely... | kengon
...about being hard on itSMF USA -- by paying my dues, I have a right to be as hard as I want. At some point, I may decide to send my dollars and attention elsewhere...

And...

I'm turning into a post-modernist | skeptic
"A model will always be the model-builder's view of reality."??? Arrgh! Help me Mommy, I'm turning into a post-modernist!!

Tablets of Stone | Lite Headed
...there needs to be some investigation into Moses’ influence on ISO 20000, where did all that ‘thou shall’ come from?

TO ALL THOSE WHO COMMENT ON BOKKED | skeptic
please also vote on BOKKEs so they will float up or down. Just click the stars. You need to login or register to rate items: sorry for the inconvenience but I'm a little sensitive about vote stacking at the moment :-D
...Please also rate the BOKKEs so the ones we all disagree with or think wrong or trivial will sink. (I will be on the lookout for dummy voting - there's a bit of that going around)

Skeptical Empiricist | Visitor (not verified)
If the reply begins with something like, "Well, in my 20 years of experience...", the following quote has a nasty habit of coming to mind:

"But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident...of any sort speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked not was I ever in any predicament that threated to end in disaster of any sort."

E. J. Smith, 1907, Captain, RMS Titanic

Features

This article has been podcast

OK I'll bite. One of the nice folk at Evergreen, Jill Landers, posted "Top 10 reasons to implement a CMDB". I'll do the right thing and not quote it in full here so you need to go read that first. Then you can enjoy my "Top 10 reasons NOT to implement CMDB"

This post has been podcast
ITIL Version 3 tells us how to run, whilst ITIL version 2 tells us how to walk. Many sites are only ready to learn to walk, so what then to do about the good ideas introduced in Version 3? Do we add a little 3 to the mix? or will that only cause confusion?

[Updated] ITIL V3 Foundations is clearly designed to meet business requirements of those who will be selling it. Does it also meet the needs of those paying good money to attend? Let the debate begin.

Here was I worrying about whether I had enough ®s on my ITILs, while out there on eBay there are people perpetrating the most appalling copyright violations and abuses of trademark. Here are a couple of examples. To the two thousand or so of you who bought stuff from these guys: SHAME!

Messages

Books by the IT Skeptic

Rob England is the IT Skeptic. Under the pseudonym of the IT Skeptic he has published the following books:

book Plus! The Standard+Case Approach
See service response in a new light

book Basic Service Management
A 50-page guide to every aspect of service management

book Owning ITIL®
A skeptical guide for decision-makers

book Introduction to Real ITSM
A satire on IT operations

book The Worst of the IT Skeptic
all the good stuff from three years of this blog

book The IT Skeptic Looks at CMDB
the case against CMDB!






Full details of these and Rob's other books are here

C'mon, confess to the world! You're just an ITIL Learner.

Recent podcasts

ITIL Version 3 makes a big ask of the ITSM industry. It will be fascinating to watch how it shakes out. The scope of ITIL is an order of magnitude wider now: how many individuals and organisations will have the knowledge and skills to step up to the new requirements?

Classic Skeptic

Today let's look closer at the recent survey I quoted previously. We will discuss the lack of decent empirical evidence for ITIL in a subsequent blog. Vendor surveys are a poor substitute (I know, I worked for one), but when they are all we have then we should at least listen to them.

Sadly I don't think I can include Evergreen in my Circle of ITIL Skeptics, but they undoubtedly take a mature and rational approach to ITIL:

Which industry standards are relevant to my organization and which are redundant?
How do I get started?

From the blog

A lovely example of the "Someone screwed up. What are you going to buy to fix it?" mentality that plagues this industry:

How to get best use and maximum value from this site.

On these pages you will find a summary of what the IT Skeptic knows about ITIL Version 3, kept up to date as facts unfold.
Note: the IT Skeptic isn't trying to sell you anything except my own books and the ads on these pages. Advice on anything else is impartial and not aligned with any vendor or organisation.

This is the 21st Century. We shouldn't be falling for that old "I saw it on a computer so it must be true" stuff. A model will always be the model-builder's view of reality.

This work is © Copyright Paul Wilkinson 2007. I will pass on any requests regarding its use.

[UPDATED]
Now that itSMF USA has confirmed "clear evidence" of voting irregularities in the last Board elections, I think it is time to reveal the original postings on this blog by Dr Linden, and to make a few observations. Some readers may resent this issue taking blog space, but I feel it links in to two issues that are important to the IT Skeptic: governance of ITIL and hence ITIL's future, and the influence of vendors in an increasingly commercialised movement.

Gentle readers, have your say. This blog exists for you (otherwise I would just mutter to myself).

What works on this blog and what doesn't?
What ticks you off?
Where should the blog pay more attention?
What changes would you like to see?
What do you think?

Post a comment or contact me privately

* Better than anything else out there\n* Great, excellent, better than I hoped\n* Good enough, about what I expected, will do the job\n* Disappointing, lacking, not what I hoped, will be hard to use\n* Useless, won't work, dangerous\n* No opinion, or haven't read them\n* \n* \n* \n* \n

Comments on this blog are generally interesting and meaty (we don't get too much of the "Me too" or "You suck" type), but the comments about process improvement over on this BOKKE are even better than usual. Get on over there and check it out, and please contribute if you can match the standard :-D

In the new world of ITIL Version 3, skills in business and IT consulting become preeminent and the technology even more secondary. People who buy technology solutions to process problems will even more likely get what they deserve (a failure), and vendors who are boxed-product peddlers disguised as sellers of IP will cause even more havoc. So how to tell the box-droppers from the consulting firms who include technology in solutions? Here's a simple check:

I just read a superb piece of IT Skepticism, 10 "New Rules" for IT by Steve Andriole. I am not worthy...

* the same window\n* a new window\n* \n* \n* \n

ITIL Version 3 makes a big ask of the ITSM industry. It will be fascinating to watch how it shakes out. The scope of ITIL is an order of magnitude wider now: how many individuals and organisations will have the knowledge and skills to step up to the new requirements?

Let us start with an interesting quote:

It will take years to fully read and understand the five core ITIL Version 3 books, so this is very much a superficial first impression. But first impressions count, right? [In this dumbed down world cynics might argue they are everything]. It may come as a surprise to some readers that I am capable of such a thing, but I like these books.

Selected comments



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