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.
I want to say all of this but I’m wary. Firstly because I’m no tool expert (although in the past I once knew a lot about LanDesk and BMC Remedy), and secondly because it’ll sound like there’s some arrangement where I big-up Zendesk for the cash. To be fair there is no such arrangement. I think my philosophy aligns with theirs to some extent which is why I may have been invited to speak at their event.
Anyway that is by-the-by. It was while at that gig, reviewing what I was going to say, that I realised that this control thing which ITSM overdoses on is simply fear. It’s fear of letting go, fear of ruined infrastructure; it’s fear of unemployment, of getting too old and of having to adapt to something completely new and alien. It’s also fear of calamitous incidents. I understand why. There used to be a lot of calamity in the pre-ITSM days of corporate IT. Nevertheless, I need to keep repeating the sentence that follows this one, because I’m always misunderstood on this point. Control is good. I’ll say that again. Control is good. It’s just that only control is bad. Control has given us corporate IT stability and reliability, but it doesn’t mean that control is the only useful element in the IT organisation’s psychology.
I’m going to talk about this in more detail in a future post (Yabba Dabba Do! Or, Don’t Believe the Vendors). I’ve already written it (by hand), but sadly I lost the notebook! A tragedy really, because it was a rather good piece. Anyway, I digress. Just because control is good doesn’t mean we have to build our entire world upon it. Bronze in the bronze age was great, but we moved on. Bronze is still used but now our world isn’t built on only that. To bronze we added iron, steam, electricity, space, micro-electronics, information, quantum things. We keep progressing. As a species we must keep evolving.
So, control is good but we need to move on from it being the only element in our organisational armoury. That, in a soundbite, is what the trichromy approach is all about. Trichromy proposes that autonomy and values are those additional elements which an organisation needs. To introduce these new components you don’t need consultants or money or complicated change programmes. You simply need to let go of fear. Fear leads to control, control leads to loathing.
Loathing? You may well ask! In the control paradigm, the service desk staff loathe their jobs and the customers (‘users’? really?) loathe the service desk. IT agents with a real service passion or who are mad keen to innovate are desperately bored of being told how to operate by people with less passion and fewer ideas than they feel that they have. And staff in the wider organisation who are desperate to get their hands on the technology or the technological expertise that will allow them to innovate their way out of challenges, loathe being told “no”.
You IT folk out there can change all that. How? well, start by embracing the truly new, and being wary of false gods who try to sell you the same old paradigm with a shiny new overlay. Most of all, feel the fear and do it anyway. There’s a time a-coming when you’ll have no choice but to change. ITSM will be disrupted and best to do it in your own time and ahead of the game.
That’s it. I’m done (for now). It is – and always will be – in your court.