Welcome To The Cxi Blog

Welcome to the cxi blog.

If you’re thinking about ways in which to transform the IT service organisation, then this may be an interesting place to linger. Here you’ll find critiques of the ITSM worldview. We believe that seeing corporate IT only through the prism of ITSM is limited and limiting. On a more positive note, you’ll also find thought and opinion here regarding what we see as the future – the trichromatic approach.

The pieces on this site are opinionated and personal as befits any blog worthy of the name. You can search, or select posts by category, tag or date in the sidebar to the left. We have many posts to add in the weeks ahead – follow cxi on Twitter to stay updated.

Comments are always welcome and we’d love to hear from you. Also if you like what you see here please visit the main cxi website.

Not Culture

I thought I’d take some time out from some rather serious and quite involved writing that I’m doing to exorcise (exercise?) a minor obsession of mine.

Organisational culture seems to be a buzzword in ITSM circles at the moment, and for good reason. I think its becoming clear to most that the laudable aims of our discipline cannot be achieved without paying attention to the people who work within the sector. Good old homo sapiens, we’re not like microprocessors; we don’t execute a JP NZ 4000H command if certain conditions are met or not met. So the question appears to be, how do we align the mindset of those working in the ITSM enterprise with its stated goals.

The answer to most is simple. Get the culture right.

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Why IT Service Must Leave Taylorism Behind

These days, much of the internet chatter generated by the IT service community is on the subject of change. It is unclear whether this is due to the sector looking over its shoulder and seeing the eager face of digital approaching, scythe in hand. Perhaps the industry has had a genuine epiphany and has realised that the old style of IT service isn’t cutting the mustard with the users (customers).

Regardless of the reasons why, there is undeniably much ado about this topic and phrases such as transformation, renaissance and even metamorphosis trip easily from the pages of numerous blogs. Without doubt, this is a very refreshing development after years of what felt like shouting in the wilderness with a few others (for example, Aale Roos). It might be a bit early for breaking out the Veuve Cliquot as there are still huge swathes of ITSM functionaries out there who avert their eyes from anything that threatens the orthodoxy that they have become comfortable with over these last thirty years.

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..and what of your ITIL service desk in the shiny digital world?

The strategy is in place.

Consultants and UXers are swarming like excited honey bees. Digital is the nectar.

Fresh mantras are replacing the dusty old ideas. Responsive! High customer experience! Peak user!

The steady murmur of buzzwords hum in the air like electric current – cloud shift, mobile, lightweight apps. Analytics.

This hive is primed and ready to fly into the new tomorrow.

But in this bright, new and shiny world, what of the ITIL service desk? When password resets are all self-service, and applications and infrastructure are in the cloud, how will the future unfold for this historical artefact of a department; they who were not invited to the fiesta digitale.

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Free-Thinking IT Service? Because You’re Worth It

When I was an undergraduate at the magical University of Sussex in the early nineteen-nineties, I read a great deal of feminist literature. Initially, I was affronted by it all on account of perceived slights to my gender. However, I eventually came to truly value the feminist challenges to the status quo.

Out of the many new learnings from reading these books one that stuck was the deconstruction of marketing methods the cosmetics industry. In actual fact they are not terribly clever, just insidious. It goes something like this:

  • “You’re not looking your best today”
  • “Those fine lines around your eyes are a problem”
  • “Your complexion is dull and lifeless”

When they’ve finished making the potential customer feel worthless, they then offer the elixir.

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Just Do It

One of my oldest friends is fond of using the word dischuffed. I met him when I was still living in the south of England. He hailed from the north so I assumed it was some Lancashire phraseology because I’d never heard it used prior to meeting him. Unconsciously, and probably by dint of spending a lot of time with him in my twenties, that word has become a part of my personal lexicon. I’ve seen it listed in the Collins dictionary recently and was a little surprised to find that it is a real word!

Today it’s proving very useful because I’m finding myself highly dischuffed by the fact that I left a Nokia phone charger (not so important) and my Moleskine notebook at the venue of a speaking gig that I attended yesterday.

That Moleskine notebook contains all manner of scribblings. There is a chapter of a novel that I was writing last year, countless business ideas and various other notes. That Moleskine is like my unconscious made material. So yes, very dischuffed.

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Fear and Loathing in IT Service

I recently had a speaking gig at the offices of Zendesk in London.

Now I want to say that they are the vendors of an excellent service tool, which has a distinct focus on the customer, something that’s perhaps missing from their ITIL-compliant competitors. I also want to say that I had a conversation with one of the attendees who was an IT service delivery manager at a media firm, and was also a Zendesk customer. I asked him why he opted for Zendesk instead of one of the compliant alternatives. He said that in his media firm, customers (please don’t make me say users) frequently requested all manner of non-standard and bespoke arrangements. He said that the many of ITIL tools forced him down very trammelled flows. He said that Zendesk was more flexible.

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Post-ITSM and Paradigm Shift

Paradigm shift is a term that can be misapplied.

Some use it to describe new methodologies; that is, new ways of doing things.

In fact, the term is closely associated with Thomas Kuhn’s 1970 classic The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. In his book, Professor Kuhn examined some of the major scientific upheavals of centuries gone by: the change from Ptolemaic to Copernican astronomy, the shift from the phlogiston theory of combustion to the discovery of the element oxygen, and the revolution that caused Newtonian physics to be replaced by Einstein’s theories of relativity.

In each of these instances, although the practical ramifications of the scientific change may have been minimal, the change to the theoretical underpinnings was enormous. For example, the practical application of astronomy in Ptolemy’s time was to help farmers predict seasons, rainfall and that sort of thing through observation of celestial objects. That didn’t change a great deal once the Copernican system was adopted, except that by employing the new tables, the predictions were more accurate. However, the theoretical predicates behind the later theories were entirely different. The same was true about the shifts following the change in understandings regarding the the role of oxygen in combustion and Einsteinan physics.

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Can IT Service Ever Be Sexy?

So let’s get to the point.

In the first post in this series, The Process Age of IT Service Is Over, I used the verb proselytise on more than one occasion. Since then, I haven’t stopped proselytising. In case you missed them (to coin a hash tag), I have posted the following all on the subject of transforming front-line IT service such that it is fit for the digital era.

Such extensive proselytising was always going to have an end. I mean, I wanted to do something about this state of affairs and be, as they say, the change that I wished to see in the world. This was the reason why Cxi was created. The name is a mnemonic which means customer experience and innovation – and it’s pronounced “cex-ee”.

So you see, IT service can be sexy. Continue reading

Control::Chaos

Content is good.

Isn’t it?

It better had be, because I’m producing a lot of it at the moment here on the Cxi blog. I hope that it’s worthwhile reading.

Interestingly, in all the stuff that I churn out – writing, talks or whatever – it’s always the same subject that I’m pulled up on. Particularly by my Scandinavian friends. That subject is control – or to be more specific the fear of what would happen when any abdication of control occurs.

For those unfamiliar with my writing on the topic of IT service, my deeply considered recipe for the improvement of front-line services is to drastically reduce control. As I’ve repeated often, ITSM is predicated on control; on the processes and the targets which reveal its rather ancient scientific management (1911) and systems thinking (1950s) heritage.

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IT Service – View From The Top

This one’s for the leaders.

Are you CEO or COO? Senior manager? Well-connected big fish in your enterprise? Then please, read on.

In truth, this post is for everyone else too, but it is leadership types whom I am hoping will be those who are most inspired by it.

So leaders – as individuals occupying elevated positions in the organisation, you are probably aware that your experience of IT service is quite different to that of the ‘regular’ staff. Right?

For instance, if you – personally – identify the need for a software application which might create efficiencies in your day-to-day job, or which might deliver considerable business benefit, then you’ll know how to get that utility into the business. If you are a CEO, you’ll probably harangue your CIO or CTO. If you’re a CIO, or another senior manager, you’ll more than likely be aware of the right person to talk to to make it happen.

But what if one of the other people in the organisation – that is, one of the ‘users’ – spots an opportunity for technological innovation? I’m sure you need no reminding of who exactly these ‘users’ are. They are the guys and girls who are the product of the carefully considered and expensive recruitment policy that you’ve implemented. So in this the information age, who do these ‘users’ turn to in order to turn their information technological ideas into reality?

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