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.

“Only our product can rejuvenate your face and allow you to live the glamorous life you’ve always dreamed of”

Then they ask, “Why spend a small fortune on our product?” – of course they are ready with the answer; phrased to imply that they are your friends, that they want to help:

“Because you’re worth it”

I do not hold cosmetics companies in contempt for using such methods, such is the world of retail. I just support the idea that the populace should be aware of these techniques.

In the ITSM industry, some vendors act in a similar fashion. They will start with a question which has an obvious answer

“Do you want to give your customers great service?”

Then the massaging begins:

  • “Your own ideas about organising for great service are not very good”
  • “Any attempt at designing great service which isn’t organised around our product is likely to fail”
  • “The probable outcome is that you will flounder around, unable to get on top of such a major undertaking”
  • “Besides, you’re far too busy for all this thinking stuff”

Then comes the power play

“Buy our product (i.e. framework or tool) and it will deliver the amazing happy clients that you’ve always dreamed of”

Except it won’t.

Face creams with active lipozones won’t eliminate fine lines or create a glamorous life for you such as Nicole Kidman depicts in the adverts. Neither will ITSM products deliver permanently gurning customers as shown in those awful stock photos so beloved of vendors

I have hippy friends. People like, for example, @missemilyjhart – musician, businesswoman and generally positive soul. She would probably advise women that if they want to be beautiful, they need to cultivate an inner beauty; that is, to act, walk and think beautiful. Those of this mindset argue that slapping a lot of expensive face cream doesn’t make you beautiful. Beauty is something far deeper.

Out of this then, emerges the idea that you, the person, are required to work at it. Beauty – and self confidence – isn’t found inside an expensive jar of cream.

Would it be too outlandish to suggest that IT service is not too dissimilar? In other words, what you do matters. The key element in a successful service function is the team – their thoughts, actions and values. The way in which the work is designed is also important as this will influence those other factors. All of this organisational stuff needs to be worked at. Simply buying and implementing a product is going to do as much for you as those active lipozones.

Bear that in mind the next time you find yourself being swayed by persuasive marketing copy.

For high quality IT service, I would argue that there is no alternative to thinking for oneself. I’d even go further and say that given the right environment, most IT teams could probably succeed in such an endeavour. There’s a lot of good knowledge out there (in that I include ITIL and DevOps, but also management theory and organisational science) that they could draw upon. And yes, there are also some very good tools that can help productivity. Nevertheless always remember they are bodies of knowledge and tools, not elixirs.

So, despite the messages of the marketers, you are in fact not worthless. Start thinking for yourselves, IT departments. Why?

Because you’re worth it.

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