The View from the Top: HDI’s Top 25 Thought Leaders Share Their Must-Reads | HDI

by Team HDI
February 8, 2019

Last month, HDI announced the community selections for the Top 25 Thought Leaders in Technical Support and Service Management for 2018. The Top 25 are the folks who generously share their insights and tips with the community across social media—they’re the people to watch in 2019.

As news of the Top 25 announcement made the rounds on social media, one post in particular offered a compelling challenge:

“I have a call to action for you all. Would you please share 1....yes just 1! article/blog that you wrote that you think people should read and take on board in 2019?”

Paul Wilkinson, HDI Top 25

Many responded to Paul, and we’ve compiled their recommendations here to show the diversity of thought—and medium—that defines and distinguishes our industry.

We’ll begin with the post shared by Simon Dorst ( @itilzealot ), featuring his own description of what a “thought leader” is:

Apart from Champions, we also need more Thought Leaders. I think sometimes people expect our ‘thought leaders’ to be exceptionally brilliant people who amaze the world\industry with creative and original ideas…

Far be it for me to say that this isn’t true for some luminary colleagues, however, I reckon that most thought leaders do not necessarily have all their original thoughts themselves. Instead they observe their environment, the community they operate in and collect individual challenges, opportunities, thoughts and solutions. They engage and interact with the community to gather and this information and proliferate, expand, share it in a novel & structured way that is recognised as ‘leading the way’.

With that description in mind, we hope you’ll take some time to read through some of these outstanding posts, watch the videos, listen to the podcasts, and learn.

Claire Agutter ( @ClaireAgutter ) and Daniel Breston ( @DanielBreston ) both chose Episode 48 of the Google Hangout The ITSM Crowd:

We discussed what HumanOps is, how technology is changing how we work in both positive and potentially negative ways, and what organisations can do to protect their people. We also touched on mental health including the recent #KeepITFit initiative .

Aprill Allen ( @knowledgebird ) chose a post touching on the necessary prerequisites for digital transformation :

Digital transformation is centred around AI, right now, and in my line of work I hear of projects to introduce artificial intelligence into customer service all the time. If cost reduction is the motivation, prepare to be disappointed, because I’m willing to bet the necessary groundwork on consistently capturing and classifying data hasn’t been done.

Roy Atkinson ( @RoyAtkinson ) shared a SupportWorld post on the advent of AI and automation :

Working side-by-side with advanced technologies will be different from working with an all-human team. If you think about how many times you get frustrated with autocorrect, or how often you hear people saying, “Representative!” loudly into their phones or punching the 0 button with force, it’s easy to see that we have not yet reached the level of near-perfect function…. What will this new relationship look like?

Troy DuMoulin ( @TroyDuMoulin ) shared a post focused on the needed human-centered skills to answer business’s call for faster value delivery:

Perhaps of all the current and emergent models DevOps hits the mark the closest with its focus on collaboration, culture and teaming. However, if you look closely at what organizations are actually doing under the banner of DevOps it is not the focus on culture and organizational issues they have picked up on, but rather a laser focus on the automation elements of continuous integration, testing and deployment. While these elements are useful, in my opinion they are not the most critical success factors for achieving the DevOps objectives.

Karen Ferris ( @KarenFerris ) chose her post on what Agile is and is not :

Albeit it was in the world of agile software development that the notion of agility started, it is not longer about IT. When change is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous but also constant, the entire organisation needs to be able to quickly adapt and change direction.

Not doing so is a matter of life or death for organisations today. The entire organisation needs to be able to experiment, innovate, be totally customer centric, sense and respond and be adaptive. It is business agility that is needed to achieve this.

Kaimar Karu ( @KaimarKaru ) shared some philosophy about frameworks and much more:

For me, a framework (in the context of IT) is a coherent collection of ideas and principles. It’s something that can be adopted (as an approach to looking at things) if it helps to achieve the expected outcomes and makes sense overall, and should be adapted to be fit for purpose in a particular context.

While I don’t think frameworks should be used as cookie-cutters, I believe it’s important to keep the coherence of the framework when going through the continuous adaption cycle. The adapted version should remain true to the principles, while the specifics can (significantly) differ from the initial ideas.

Stephen Mann ( @stephenmann ) shared a look both forward and back along with some excellent questions:

So, when we look forward to 2019 and the required evolution of ITSM thinking, strategies, policies, processes, and practices (plus the enabling technology), are we being unrealistic about our capacity to change (quickly)?

Simone Jo Moore ( @simonejomoore ) shared her thoughts about breaking the mold in order to move forward:

Building an environment that allows a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts and beliefs moves customs, attitudes and ideas forward. Now we have non-conformity and the possibility of transforming the amazing and current expertise into something more fabulous in which we feel we want to belong; are able to conform to something to which we agree. Just remember, if you don’t decide, someone else will usually do so for you.

Stuart Rance ( @StuartRance ) shared his thoughts on rote thinking, checklists, and culture change :

You can’t just install a new culture, but by involving people in the design of simple processes that help them work better, you can start to achieve cultural change and this may make an enormous difference to customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and your ability to do a great job. So why not empower staff with the skills, knowledge, tools, and trust they need to do a great job for your customers?

Greg Sanker ( @gtsanker ) selected our SPOCcast interview and excerpts focused on IT change management :

Change management is not a process—and I’ll get in trouble with some practitioners for saying that. But change management is a capability that’s comprised of processes, of people, of tools and other things…. It’s the ability of your organization to bring about changes that the customer needs in a way that meets their appetite for risk, minimizes impact, and facilitates outcomes while making sure that our governance and compliance expectations are met…. Everything good in this business is brought about by some form of a change.

Doug Tedder ( @dougtedder ) chose his thinking about getting service management out of IT :

Service management can no longer be about just IT.  Service management has never been about this or than methodology—frankly, there is no “one-size-fits-all” methodology—it is about delivering business value and results. The future-state service management approach is a blend of several methodologies and practices from all parts of the business (including IT) that enable the whole business to deliver value and results.

Paul Wilkinson ( @GamingPaul ) himself chose a post about collaborative working and why it often fails :

Efficient collaborators decide when they do, or don’t, have unique value to add—“maintaining focus on what matters.”…There is an “I” in Team, after all. “I” am responsible for my effective contribution to team performance.

What we see running throughout these various links is the common thread that it is people who make the difference, and we here at HDI couldn’t agree more.


HDI is the first professional association created for the service and support industry. Since its founding in 1989, HDI has remained the source for professional development by offering resources to promote organization-wide success through exceptional customer service. We do this by facilitating collaboration and networking, hosting acclaimed conferences and events, producing renowned publications and research, and certifying and training thousands of professionals each year. At 150,000 people strong, HDI is a community built by industry peers and leaders that gives its members the resources, knowledge, and drive to be great at what they do.


Tag(s): supportworld, workforce enablement, technology, support center, service management, customer experience, desktop support, metrics and measurements

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