itSMF India held their 2nd annual conference at the Vivanta Hotel in Bangalore on the 5th November. My quick video review is below.
Some thought provoking presentations, interactive panel sessions and great simulation exercise to finish the day. Congratulations to Suresh GP and the itSMF India team for an excellent conference and thanks for inviting us.
Unashamed commercial plug: Suresh GP (Our courteous host in India and all round good egg) has left the HP ITSM team to venture out in the world of independent consulting.
Yesterday, AXELOS launched a brand new competition aimed at helping IT professionals kick-start and/or revive their ITSM initiatives.
With the help of independent, industry experts, AXELOS will be providing entrants with a list of tasks, along with practical guidance on how to successfully complete them in order to start people out on their journey of ITSM improvement.
AXELOS’s objective with this competition is to show how ITSM improvement initiatives can be agile, iterative, and business focused, and that CSI is an integral part of all processes and activities. There is no need for a huge 2-year-long project plan to kick things off – a few enthusiastic people with proper guidance can achieve a lot! The outcomes from this competition will serve as the basis for each participating organization to create their own prioritized list of improvements – a proper CSI register. The prizes that AXELOS has selected for the most impressive ITIL journeys will help to engage the whole organization at the next level, and to build the momentum.
The competition, otherwise known as the “ITIL Journey”, will be divided into three 2-week sprints, each of which will have a specific focus. In order to participate you will need to download the AXELOS foldable prism.
The sprint topics will be:
Sprint 1 – Listening and Engagement – May 12th – May 25th 2014
Sprint 2 – Quantifying and Reviewing – May 27th – June 8th 2014
Sprint 3 – Prioritizing and Planning – June 9th – June 22nd 2014
Each set of tasks for individual sprints focuses on the theme of the sprint and builds on the previous sprints. The tasks for each sprint will be revealed in the beginning of that sprint.
By the end of the competition, when all three sprints are completed, you will have a prioritized list of improvements that is based on actual data and business requirements, rather than just on hard-to-prove gut feeling. You will also have shown, by completing a few low hanging fruit improvement tasks, that the initiative does bring value – and this helps to build a momentum in your organization. All tasks from previous sprints will be available in an ordered ‘backlog’ – this way, you can include them in your sprints along the way.
The competition is not UK-only-based and you can take part from anywhere in the world. All you need to do to enter is submit a photo of your completed prism along with any documentation that you have created to AXELOS by 30th June 2014.
You don’t have to have been involved from the start to join in either. You can essentially even join in the third sprint, you will just complete less tasks. For maximum value to your organization and for the best chance to win the competition, we highly recommend that you start your ITIL Journey now (or at least as soon as possible).
The three best submissions will receive a voucher for a full-day in-house ITIL simulation game from one of the following Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs): G2G3, Gamingworks and Simagine.
In a nutshell
Find out how to engage with your customers and understand their needs
Review and evaluate your current processes and metrics
Identify quick wins to address first and get buy-in from stakeholders
Map your activities to value your customers expect
Make use of free-of-charge insights and guidance from industry experts
Win a full-day ITIL simulation for your organization
For more information about the ITIL Journey competition, including how to take part and submit please visit the website.
I must admit to being tired, frustrated, disappointed and angry at the latest mega hype around ‘gamification’. Why? You would think that being a company that develops business simulation games we would be happy, right? Or perhaps you are still asking “what has ‘gaming’ got to do with ITSM”? You are probably thinking that gaming is just a nice way to make training more fun and interesting. You couldn’t be MORE wrong, I will show you why shortly.
I am happy that ‘gaming’ is getting attention. I am NOT happy about the general perceptions being created about gaming and I am NOT happy with the general way in which they are deployed.
These perceptions and poor deployment are damaging the credibility of gaming as valuable intervention instruments. In this article I want to try and demonstrate to you that a game isn’t just a nice to have add-on to ITIL training to make it less boring, nor simply a great way of creating more ‘awareness’. These are the LEAST valuable benefits of gaming.
The general perceptions, partly prompted by the new breed of software developers, is that gamification is all about digital, video, on-line, and engagement type games with leader boards, badges and rewards; great for marketing and driving traffic to web-sites.
When I talk to people about business simulation games they often ask “Where can we download it?”, “Is there an on-line demo we can play?”, “Can I install it on my iPad”, “Do I get to shoot people in the game?”….the last one was a joke by the way. It seems that people are prepared to queue up all through the night to buy the latest game that allows them to shoot people and score points! But they don’t want to invest in a business game because they don’t see how it adds value!
I am NOT saying that these computer based games are of no value. They are extremely powerful if used correctly, with a clear set of business objectives. I am simply saying there is moreto gaming, such as classroom based business simulation games – dynamic, interactive, experiential learning environments in which people have to work together, face-to-face to solve problems and learn.
Learning to discuss, engage in dialogue, make agreements, give and receive feedback, resolve conflicts, and convince somebody of the business case, these are all difficult to simulate in a computer game.
Yet these are some of the competences required when deploying best practices such as ITIL, and these are some of the key reasons ITSM improvement initiatives fail! A simulation game is a great way to test and explore these types of behavior.
People leap onto games as the next TOOL. Just like many organizations used ITIL as a TOOL to be ‘implemented’ – and generally failed, just like organizations who buy expensive service management TOOLS and then find they aren’t being used properly.
One of the top ABC (Attitude, Behavior, Culture) worst practice cards chosen in workshops world-wide is ‘A Fool with a tool is still a fool’ – It’s not about the TOOL, it’s about what you do with it. I often hear people say ‘We played a game…..didn’t see the results we HOPED for’. ‘It was fun, created energy but…’. That is because they deployed the game as a TOOL; a product.
A game is not a one-size-fits all, just like ITIL needs to be customized to the needs of the organization, just like a tool needs to be customized to the needs of the organization, so too a game facilitation needs to be customized to the needs of the organization.
Gartner predicted that 80% of gamification investments would fail because of poor design – not aligning them with the organization’s needs. Questions need to be explored such as: what problem are we trying to solve, what behavior do we want to confront, to learn, to test, to explore, who needs to play which roles and why? What will we do with the captured learning and improvement points? Basically a game needs to be played in the context of the organization to ensure a maximum return on the investment. However when done well the returns are high.
A game needs to be part of the learning process
This means that a game needs to be part of a learning process:
Before activities (customization)
During activities (facilitation, fit-for-purpose, fit-for-use)
After activities (transfer & embedding).
Unfortunately many organizations do not do this, they simply say “let’s play an ITIL game and let people learn about ITIL”! – just like many people don’t do this with ITIL training either – “let’s send people on ITIL foundation training to get an ITIL certificate and learn about ITIL” they say. “Oh?” we ask “and what problem do we HOPE to solve by sending them on the training? How will we ensure the learning is transferred to the workplace”? – questions which are often just meets with blank stares!
Is it any wonder that with more than 1.5 million ITIL certificates still many organizations fail to get the HOPED for value?
So how is a game going to help with all this?
I’m glad you asked.
We recently conducted a survey with training organizations and customer organizations into the effectiveness and benefits of simulation games. This survey was conducted with consulting and training companies offering games and customer organizations who have used games. It is interesting to see the difference in perceived benefits between the training companies offering the games and the customer organizations who took the time and effort to do the groundwork (before-during-after).
Our first survey question was ‘when are simulation games most effective?’ The answers were:
To support culture change initiatives
To create understanding and ‘buy-in’ for a best practice (such as ITIL, Prince2, PMI, BPM, CoBIT)
Translating theory into practice
Breaking down silos and creating end-t0-end, ‘team working’
As you can see simple ‘awareness and understanding’ scores number 2 in the list and supporting a culture change initiative within IT scores the highest. Failure to address organizational culture was named as the top reason for ITSM initiatives failing according to the OGC planning to implement service management book. This is one of the reasons we published the ‘ABC of ICT’ book and assessment (card set) to help address these issues, and this is where a simulation game starts to get serious.
Serious gaming to solve serious problems.
Our second question was ‘what are the benefits of simulation games?’.
Better understanding and buy-in for ITSM best practices, experiencing the benefits
Better understanding of other groups perspective
Better understanding of customer expectations and customer centric behaviour
Agreed improvement actions captured and a willingess and commitment to execute them
Improved quality of services resulting from the change in behaviour as agreed in the simulation game experience
People started applying the behaviour they had experienced in the simulation game
Reduces time, cost and effort to implement as people have a better understanding of how to apply after following a simulation
People started confronting each other on ‘undesirable behaviour’ as they had experienced in the simulation
People got together more after a simulation game to analyze and improve their work together, ‘improving your work is your work’ – CSI
As can be seen from the responses games are considerably more than simply instruments to make training more fun or just to help create awareness.
Top benefits as perceived by training and consulting organizations
‘Better understanding and buy-in for the benefits of ITSM best practices’, which helps address the biggest reason for ITSM improvement program failures – Resistance to change.
Better understanding of other groups perspectives’, which demonstrates a simulation’s effect at ‘breaking down organizational silos’ and helping to ‘foster end-to-end working’ and ‘more effective team working and collaboration’.
‘Better understanding of customer expectations and customer centric behavior’, which shows a simulation helps ‘IT has too little understanding of business impact and priority’, and ‘IT is too internally focused’.
‘Agreed improvement actions captured and a willingness and commitment to carry them out’. Which shows how a simulation can help provide input to a service improvement initiative. Creating a shared perception of improvement needs. This helps ‘Empower’ people to improve their own work.
Top benefits as perceived by the supplier organization
‘Improved quality of service resulting from the change in behavior as agreed in the simulation game’. This shows how a simulation has a positive impact on creating ‘desirable behavior’. Participants learn how to translate ‘knowledge into results’, which leads to quality improvements.
‘People started applying the behavior they had experienced in the simulation game’. This shows how a simulation helps ‘translate theory into practice’. This also demonstrates not only buy-in to the new ways of working, but also a commitment to execute.
‘Reduces time, cost and effort to implement (best practices) as people have a better understanding of how to apply after following a simulation’. This shows how a simulation can help reduce risks of an ITSM improvement initiative from failing (70% still do not gain the hoped for value from an initiative), as well as speed up the adoption and value realization.
‘People got together more after the simulation game to analyze and improve their work together’. This shows how a simulation helps foster a culture of ‘continual service improvement’ and enables people to apply a pragmatic approach to analyzing and improving their work.
So back to the title. ‘A game is just nice to have right?’ – yes if you want to simply use it as an off the shelf TOOL to create awareness. Wrong! If you want to help change the attitude, behavior and culture in your organization and ensure a sustainable, lasting improvement that delivers value.
Want to hear more from Paul? He will be presenting in Birmingham at the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition, 4-5 November. You can catch him on day 1 for his session “Grab@Pizza – Experience Business & IT Alignment in ACTION” (please note that this session has limited attendance), and/or day 2 looking at “Creating a Measurable Return on Value of an ITSM Training Investment”.
Paul has been working in the IT Industry for more than 30 years fulfilling a wide variety of roles from Computer Operator, to Systems manager to IT Services manager. Paul has been actively involved in ITSM for more than 20 years as both an Senior consultant, Service development manager and as ITIL author. He was a project team leader for the original BITE (Business IT Excellence) ITIL process-modeling initiative, and co-author of the ITIL publication “Planning to Implement IT Service Management”. He was a member of the ITIL advisory group for ITIL Version 3. Paul is also co-director and co-owner of GamingWorks, the company that developed the internationally renowned ‘Apollo 13 – an ITSM case experience’ ITIL simulation game. He was also co-author and cartoonist for the itSMF ‘Worst practice’ publication “IT Service management from Hell” and more recently the ‘ABC-of-ICT’ publications focusing on Attitude, behavior and Culture within IT organizations.
Chris Barrett (currently a Transformation Director at Capita Consulting) is one of the first of the newly appointed management team for the new joint venture company, and spoke to us at the Knowledge 13 event, Las Vegas.
The Issue of Communications
The first question had to look at the communications, lack of and standard of (which is ironic given our collective jet-lagged state, at the time).
The first e-bulletin had just come out, and it is clear that the press office still needs some time to settle in to converting dry releases into something that gives the waiting ITSM public some further insight, without jargon.
At several times, he was keen to emphasis that Capita is actually more of a red herring/misnomer (which explains why a number of questions were pointed directly at Capita Group).
He said: “If there was one thing Capita was good at, it was fulfilling a remit – for example stripping out costs from a business.”
“But if people are thinking this is a land grab, they would be completely wrong.”
“We are not a corporation, we are a small joint venture.”
“The idea is to grow and invest in the community – this is about a duty of care, and custodianship.”
Whilst communications have been light and/or dry as toast, there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
There will be a twitter feed and a continuation of the e-bulletins, but resources to manage the media side of operations are yet to be appointed.
The Team To Be
In terms of the physical set up, the Chief Executive has been chosen, and the management team are being finalised.
TUPE discussions are continuing regarding members of the Cabinet Office and TSO, due to come across at the end of this year (UPDATED: See comment from Chris Barrett of the Capita JV below)
For many who have actively contributed to the best practices publications, the emphasis on being a non-corporate joint venture still allows them have that airtime – if they so choose.
“Can it be altruistic?” I asked Chris
“It can be, if it serves the community and if we cut them out, how stupid would that be.”
Here is where I think the balance of power shifts.
Let’s be honest – people who have actively contributed in the past do not really need the kudos of adding that involvement to a CV or resume any more.
But there are also many people coming up now, through the ranks, with strong practitioner knowledge, and with the support and encouragement of those previously involved.
There is also an opportunity for those who have, in the past, rebelled at the gates of the fortress – surely now is their time to help shape the best practices to what they believe it should be?
Or will they choose to ignore this emerging spirit of collaboration with the community, and continue to throw stones into the moat?
Pragmatism Over Theory
A number of questions came in through various social media feeds, for us to ask and interestingly a lot seemed to focus on how Capita does things now.
Capita favours the pragmatic approach – referring to principles where appropriate but not purely for the purpose of using them for use’s sake.
It therefore stands to reason that going forward, the emphasis continues to be on the pragmatic application of these established best practices, to demonstrate real-world benefit.
As with everything that took place before, a lot of consideration will need to be given to the release programs for new versions.
This, in turn, led to an interesting revelation that the Cabinet Office themselves do not see the Swirl brand as having traction outside the UK’s shores, despite the information email ID being swirlenquiries.
Spending Spree Or Visionaries?
Interestingly, the most recent acquisitions (Knowledge Pool and Blue Sky) were never part of the original plan, but the inclusion of G2G3 was part of the original bid.
Even if they had not been acquired, the plan would have been to involve them anyway, and they look to be all set now in terms of training and simulation approaches.
Chris was asked whether the joint venture were looking to create their own, newer community, for example in the mould of Back to ITSM?
The plan is to have to have a portal approach and a formal home for people to land on.
Ideas being considered are a subscription-plan for more detailed material – this was seen as no different to paying money for training courses.
What is the Joint Venture NOT going to be
Chris confidently lined up his views:
“Not going to stagnate
Not going to be purely theoretical
Involving real practitioners and serving community members
Not going to be “Castle ITIL”
I wanted to be honest with Chris – those statements are pretty bold, but as someone still active both in consultancy and analysis on the ITSM side, this is good fighting talk.
Meet Them At The Gates
Whilst I can see a sense of continued cautiousness from those who have been discussing the future, the new joint venture are very much seeking and wanting continued dialogue.
The sense of community was a recurring theme, and as a member of this community, I think we owe it to the joint venture to try and meet them at the gates of our beloved “Castle ITIL”.