Content is good.
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.
There are many, many reasons why this excess control is bad in a knowledge/service function such as the service desk. For instance, processes attempt to pre-divine what can occur in advance and as such is the enemy of responsive innovation. Targets ignore the actual needs of the customer in deference to some earlier-agreed ideal of what will be acceptable.
However, I’m repeating myself. My earlier posts rehearse these arguments in a little more depth, and that book of mine explores the minutae of these issues in near-unreadable detail. This is not the point. What I want to emphasise (so much so that I’m going to give it its own paragraph) in this post is the following.
The argument I put forward is not for a total abdication of control, rather for a massive reduction in the control beloved of our sector. In place of the ubiquitous top down control and management that’s formalised in ITSM via processes and targets, I would propose a recognition and a leveraging of the chaotic freedom which already exists in your departments. I know it’s a challenging idea but look, your agents are already free to make decisions, mistakes – fuck-ups even – but this freedom is not acknowledged by ITSM. Our service philosophy treats the entire function as if it were a machine, rather than being staffed by real people with real human free will.
So, in the approach which I have attempted to describe here and elsewhere, control will not in fact disappear. The goal is that control to be massively reduced. We will replace it with what I describe as the processes of complexity (call it ‘staff freedom’ or ‘autonomy’ if you like, or even ‘chaos’). This however, only works successfully if it is introduced alongside understanding of the human values that people bring to work every day. This, in my view is a much, much, better basis from which to provide front-line knowledge-based, innovation-centric front-line IT service.
As I’ve said before it’s complicated; and it’s new. To an industry addicted to facile tweaking, such a proposed radical departure will take a bit of getting used to. But ITSM like every other idea in the history of humankind will have to move on and take that paradigm leap into a new tomorrow where things are done very differently from the way they are today.
Control freaks watch out!