HDI’s SPOCcast is your single point of contact podcast for service management and support insights. I conducted an interview with service management and security expert Stuart Rance via Skype to discuss the state of ITSM, what we can learn from DevOps, and much more. The following interview is excerpted from my conversation with Stuart.
Hear the entire interview on the SPOCcast site.
RA: There’s a perception in the industry that IT service management is by nature bureaucratic and restrictive. Do you think so? And if not, why has that perception persisted?
SR: I certainly think it can be, and we both know that it shouldn’t be. And why does it happen? I don’t know—I think you have to look back in history…. We used to run IT as a technology play… We ran into incidents that we managed poorly. We never investigated problems. So what did we do? We introduced processes. We started doing formal incident management, and change management, and release management, and all these other things that ITIL® got to be well known for…and sometimes we had organizations where the people who were more formal, bureaucratic, process people ended up in charge. And that often led to a situation where we often didn’t get the balance right. And since then, we’ve had increasing complexity of the IT solutions that we develop and deliver and support, and that led to more need for less rigorous, regimented, documented approaches for doing a lot of the things we need to do, and some organizations haven’t caught up with that. We still need the processes for when they’re appropriate. But we need them to be flexible, and we need a lot more systems thinking rather than process thinking.
RA: You talked about getting the balance right, and I want to come back to that with relation to DevOps. It seems that right now DevOps has been leaning very heavily on the development side and not so much on the operations side, and getting the balance right is important there as well. Would you agree with any or all of that?
SR: To a limited extent. And the limitation I would add is that the reason that DevOps is largely on the development side and not the operational side is not the fault of the people doing DevOps, who come from a development background; it’s the fault of the people not doing it, who come from an operational background.... The stuff around CALMS (Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, Sharing)…why are operational teams not picking that up? I don’t think it’s because DevOps people are focused on Dev; I think it’s because the Ops people don’t pick up the ideas.
[Later in the interview, Stuart continued this thought after a discussion about change management.]
…There’s a lot we can do with automation in the operations space. We’ve barely touched on the possibilities…We saw
and the whole family of that sort of thing come in at the Dev side. Where are the Ops people automating all the tests they need to run to make sure that all of their countermeasures and failovers are working today, not last month?
RA: Organizations keep looking for the Magic Bullet or Silver Bullet…the one solution, the one framework, the one methodology that’s going to tie everything together and make our lives better…. How do we manage up and convince people that there isn’t “one ring to bind them all?” What do you think is required to make the message that actually penetrates?
There’s two or three things that will help to solve most problems, but they’re quite abstract things. There’s common sense. There’s systems thinking. There’s understanding of flow, feedback, experiment, and learning. These things will help with most situations…. I do like the work we did on ITIL Practitioner, where we defined a set of guiding principles, and we do need to talk to people more about principles than about processes and activities…getting them away from “How do we follow the process?” to “How can we focus on value?” which is a much more useful conversation.
We need processes to be flexible, and we need a lot more systems thinking rather than process thinking.
About Stuart Rance:
Stuart is a consultant, trainer, author, and expert in IT service management and information security management. He divides his time roughly equally between helping clients to improve their IT and security, creating and delivering training courses, and writing books, blogs, and other content for a wide range of clients.
He was an author for ITIL® Practitioner, RESILIA®: Cyber Resilience Best Practice, and ITIL Service Transition, and he is currently helping to write the next release of ITIL, which will be published early in 2019. Stuart is chief examiner for RESILIA and an examiner for ITIL, and he teaches these as well as CISSP and many other topics. You can find Stuart on Twitter as @StuartRance, and you can follow his blogs on Optimal Service Management.
Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.