Visions of the Future of ITIL: Second Vision

The IT Swami gives us his mid-year Visions of the Future of ITIL. Yesterday we had the First Vision. This is his Second Vision:

Swami: I am seeing … oh most unpleasant! … a gorilla strangling a pig. This tells to me there is a powerful, greedy force overpowering a better cause. The pig speaks to me of digging truffles of knowledge but the gorilla roars “gold”. In other lands I see pigs and monkeys foraging together, but here in the largest area I see a killing.

Not that I want to call vendors monkeys - except the vendor who once called me that on this blog - but the delicate balance between the interests of those who practice ITIL (foraging, digging for truffles of knowledge) and those who commercialise ITIL (hunting and gathering) is one that requires constant vigilance, else the forces of commerce will grow too powerful and kill the very industry that feeds them.

The bigger vendors (the gorillas) wield enormous power that must be carefully policed else they could easily (and even accidentally) crush the very industry that feeds them by forcing it to serve their own interests instead of those of all members of the ITIL community. There are those who think this is happening in “the largest area” now, the USA. There are strong signs of it happening in ITIL V3 certification.

Actually the two visions link up, because if the monkeys rule the farm (getting all Orwellian now) they have no interest in representation for the pigs. That is, if itSMF dances to the vendors’ tune then promotion of ITIL will only increase in emphasis and services to members will decline further. Actual representation of members would be counter to their aims.

As an aside, one can enhance the metaphor to explain what the pigs do to produce gold as by-product for the monkeys, but it would be in bad taste.

Third Vision


Vendor vs User - IoSM a solution?

This question of the vendor vs user is a vexing one. It is difficult to set clear definitions. If the itSMF is to improve as a user representing organisation, then this needs to be sorted out.

I think your gorilla and pig description is a good one - if a little graphic for some delicate souls! We need all the truffle-hunters we can get active in the itSMF, on the boards, on committees, writing books and articles and doing genuine research. We don't need lots of gorillas - or, rather, marketing or sales folk from gorilla companies.

How do you distinguish the two?

You might have somebody working for a user company, a food retailer, say, who, under current rules would be a user - but this person might have a strong alignment and sympathy for the gorilla who is their vendor, thus allowing undue influence, particularly if the person in question hopes to land a job with the gorilla some day.

You might, on the other hand, have somebody working for a gorilla who works with a number of user companies as a hands-on consultant and has acquired just the truffle hunting wisdom the itSMF needs - having far more loyalty to Service Management than to gorilla grooming. This person would be classified as a vendor and barred from office.

These are two imaginary and extreme positions. My idea of how to distinguish between them is to use the IoSM, or the Dutch equivalent Jan mentioned, as a test. The code of conduct is a pretty comprehensive agreement to act with integrity in exactly the way the itSMF would require of an effective officer - I'm sure that the Dutch code is similar. The IoSM also requires proper qualifications and verified experience working in the field of Service Management. It is thus highly unlikely that a gorilla sales or marketing person would be a member, or could be a member. The IoSM also includes a policing mechanism so that if a member were to transgress there is a mechanism to deal with this.

If, rather than the vendor/user split, it was simply required that all itSMF office holders were members of the appropriate institute this might help ensure that we end up with truffle hunters.

There is, of course, a problem with this. The IoSM, as has been discussed, is not yet a global organisation. For the above scheme to work it would be necessary for it do extend its reach to all countries with itSMF chapters. There are issues of cost, quality standards and so on to be dealt with that differ from country to country. I think that it would be a useful boost to the IoSM (and Dutch equivalent) to explore this route, though, and would give the added confidence to user organisations that the itSMF believed in the integrity of members of the IoSM sufficiently for this to be the deciding test.

IoSM - Certification

Certification programs enable, in this particular case, industry practitioners to take their respected career to the next level, and can be enticing to IoSM and ITSMF because of their revenue potential.

IoSM provides only a tendency toward, not a guarantee of global competence. It could lead some to deal exclusively with certified or credentialed professionals, I believe their intent, for employment and other activities if only for reasons of convenience. But of course it should not lead anyone to conclude that only IOsM certified members are competent or that non ISoM certified professionals are incompetent. For IoSM, the focus on competence adds only perceived value to their credentialing programs, but clearly does not give them carte blanche to tout in promotional literature or other publications that their program is the definitive measure of competence.

IoSM was concieved in the UK and designed for the UK. To make this the global model needs reconsideration. IoSM has had some time to mature, but has not grown outside the UK with any significant acceptance. To have the ITSMF International take this program worldwide is more than they can handle. Perhaps the German philosopher, Goethe, said it best: "Before you can Do Something, you must first Be something."

Service management certification will go through a shakeout until one is "sanctioned." Then there will be no questions.

IoSM Certification

I think it is optimistic to think that a day may come when there are no questions!

ITIL too was, as you put it, 'born in the UK', it sounds like a song..

I agree that it is important to have a good certification model working world-wide. I don't think it possible to get a 'definitive' measure of competence - Dr. Harold Shipman was perfectly well qualified as a Doctor.

I do think that membership of an Institute with competence requirements and a strict code of practice is useful test and good governance would suggest having such tests in place for staff selection. It isn't enough, though, of course not!

It is a great pity that the IoSM, or the Dutch equivalent, have not spread to other countries. I've tried to work to help with this process and will continue to try because I think it a worthy and important goal.

Vendors are people too. Any demarcation is discriminatory

Wow! great input, thankyou Peter.

I like the idea that officers of itSMF need to be Registered Service Engineers, or whatever professional certification we finally arrive at.

As you point out, we aren't there yet. We could have been well on the way, if iTSMF had just taken it upon themselves to add one more string to the itSMF fiddle. The international infrastructure was all their to roll it out... sigh, opportunities lost, or rather given away.

In the interim, I have a simpler answer: governance. Something itSMF should be demonstrating expertise in, but the cobbler's children have no shoes.

Vendors are people too (I was one). There are plenty of crooked non-vendors around and plenty of nice vendors... well some anyway :-D Any demarcation is arbitrary and discriminatory - not a topic I need to lecture you on. [Peter is from South Africa]. I got a bit heated over this issue once before:

Vendors DO have a right - the same right as any other member of the ITIL community. They also have the same obligations and responsibilities as any other member of the ITIL community and should be subject to the same governance (OK more governance, they have more of their own $$$ at stake).

I strongly disagree with any policy that says vendors are subhuman. First I think it is arbitrary to define a vendor, therefore it is discriminatory to do so. Second I think it is insulting to the decent vendors out there to suggest that they are incapable of conducting themselves like civilised human beings.

I'm the first to pile it on them when they come out with crap. I'll also be the first to defend their right to equal treatment.

We should police the officers of itSMF wherever they come from. Have a code of conduct and enforce it.

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