What Las Vegas and ITIL V3 have in common.
Pondering my recent (second) visit to Las Vegas, it is interesting the parallels and lessons about ITIL we can draw from the place.
The first is excess. Nobody can accuse the Las Vegans of being constrained by good taste or in fact by anything other than available funds. The motto of Las Vegas appears to be "nothing exceeds like excess". It is like super-size American food portions: I think the objective is for somebody to one-day eat a meal larger than their own head. (Actually as far as Over-The-Top goes, the Bellagio where I stayed does it with more taste, or at least with less bad taste, than most casinos in Vegas). As Aale Roos said recently on this blog
we are seeing the same thing with ITIL. A simple process model proved to be useful in improving service. Investing a little in training with certification helped. Using a software tool brought savings. So with the linear logic more processes, certifications and tools will improve results. It won't.
A second concept that ITIL and Las Vegas have in common is originality, or the lack of. Everything in Vegas is derivative except the overall result which is unique. In the case of Vegas it is fortunate that it is unique but a pity that it is so derivative: the lack of originality is the reason I'll never be a Las Vegas fan. Hong Kong achieved a similarly OTT result by pursuing their own independent vision and culture. The city is infinitely more interesting as a result, and lots more fun. ITIL is the opposite case: it is intended to be a synthesis of other ideas and systems - it is not meant to be original. Some of its weaknesses are where it veers towards thought leadership instead of reflecting the world.
Perhaps something else ITIL and Las Vegas have in common is dumbing down. Try to buy a book - or even a good magazine - on the Las Vegas Strip [yes yes there is one lone Borders if you know where to find it]. Try to find some quality theatre. It is just not Vegas's thing: Las Vegas is there for the amusement of the lowest common denominator, plus those of us who don't mind that kind of thing now and then. New York it isn't. In this regard, ITIL isn't Vegas yet, but I know which way it appears to be headed. ITIL seems more intent on achieving mass appeal and accessibility than on lifting the game. I'm not sure that is a bad thing (though I suspect it might be), so long as we don't end up with ITIL looking like Las Vegas.
The other major concept that comes up in the context of Las Vegas is authenticity - that thing that "world culture" (read: American culture) lost in the late 20th Century. Just because it looks exactly like the Eiffel Tower (only half-size) doesn't make it the Eiffel Tower, especially when it appears to be having sexual relations with the Louvre. I'm minded of ITIL's sections on security or application development, for example.
So it is a great thing that many IT conferences are in Las Vegas - we can learn some lessons while we are there: moderation, synthesis, intelligence and authenticity.