An interview with Stuart Rance

February 12, 2014

Starting 2014 interviews with Stuart Rance, author of the ITIL 2011 edition Service Transition book and a true dynamo on pushing practices and having people discuss what really matters.

Stuart Rance

1. Do share your very best practices on chocolate degustation. Dark? With almonds? Swiss? Belgium?

I’m glad you asked that! I’m very fond of dark chocolate coated brazil nuts, but dark chocolate with hazelnuts or almonds is nearly as good.

2. Lately I’ve observed lots of discussion on incident versus problem. Could it mean ITSM still has lots of concepts not well understood by the community?

I think most people understand the concepts, but very few people seem to be doing a good job of problem management. Part of the reason for this may be because of the way activities are assigned to incident or problem management, which I think could be improved. I’ve written about this in a blog article at – I intentionally made this blog a bit controversial to try and get people to discuss the underlying issues.

There is one area where I think that ITSM concepts are poorly understood, and that is in the area of service strategy. I’ve heard people complain that we shouldn’t include service strategy concepts in ITIL foundation training because they aren’t relevant to most people in ITSM and I find that really scary. Key concepts in service strategy include value creation and how customers perceive value. Sadly many people in IT still think in terms of technology solving problems, rather than in terms of creating value for people. I would love to see improvements to ITIL training so that everyone with a foundation certificate really understood that services are about creating value for customers, not about ITSM processes.

3. Social media is here to stay – as once you remarked, for instance we’ve never met in real life but we share and discuss. How do you think it as influenced Service Management progress?

I think discussions in social media have opened out the creation of best practice to a much wider community. Not very long ago there were only a few people contributing to the creation of best practice for ITSM but I have been involved in debates with lots of really creative people, and some of these have led to us having face-to-face meetings where we continue the discussions. There are some very frustrating forums where people seem to endlessly debate the same sterile ITSM questions, such as “is a password reset an incident or a service request”, but I just ignore those and focus on the places where I see useful things happening.

There is a danger that those of us who participate in social media can forget that we are only a very tiny subset of the people with ideas and opinions. It would be great if we could get more people involved, and to do that we have to create truly welcoming communities where people feel that they can join in and get benefits.

4. Regarding Taking Service Forward initiative with the service meta model Adaptive Service Model… what’s your expectation on how these efforts will benefit the ITSM world?

I know what I would like to see, which is the creation of an open, shared, common architecture and ontology for services that is in the public domain and available for many people to use. Even better would be if the owners of all the different best practices and standards adopted (and adapted) this architecture, so that we could all do a better job of adapting and integrating multiple different frameworks. I can’t really say that this is an expectation, but it is an aspiration. I would like to encourage your readers to get involved, join in the discussions and help us to create this architecture.

5. From your experience can ideas and practices like Tipu, Standard+Case, process mining applied to service management and others from “alien” fields outside ITSM really flourish and gain momentum without Axelos support?

Both Tipu and Standard+Case come from the fertile mind of Rob England, and maybe you should be asking him this question. I really do like many of his contributions to ITSM best practice, but it is hard for ideas like this to compete when hundreds of thousands of people every year are taking ITIL training. It would be really good if we could find ways to communicate developing best practice to a wider audience, and maybe that is something we should put more effort into over the next year.

6. [Mistery question from Aprill Allen!]  If you were putting together a new service management program team, which celebrities—living or past—would you choose?

In general I think that celebrities would be a terrible idea for a service management team. We don’t need heroes and people whose main talent is marketing themselves, but in the spirit of the question I will offer some names.

Overall charge of the program and Continual Improvement:

Eli Goldratt (if you haven’t heard of him then do some research)

Demand management and BRM:

Steve Jobs (tell me what customers will want next year)

Service operation processes:

Rob England (who else)

Dear Santa

December 24, 2013

1387893768918@rumagoso Do a blog with your wish list in it. Title it: “Dear Santa” #justsayin

— Kenneth Gonzalez (@ken_gonzalez) December 18, 2013

A robust ITSM body of knowledge, like

  • A Service Catalog ontology with a well-defined way to describe services and requests. Useful for comparing service offers and better define what IT needs to put in place to support and deliver.
  • A common way to describe what people do (be it within processes, be it in project context). So people know and can be measured in a fair way.
  • An ITSM learning path with shorter and cheaper costs. The current model for ITIL is a cash cow and the foundation level does not work. I am betting on Axelos to help you Santa on this!

Broader awareness and adoption for great approaches out there that are not UK-based/backed by big orgs

  • Standard + Case
  • ISM
  • Process Mining applied to ITSM

As for me, I’d love to

  • Meet (devirtualize!) more great ITSM people (I’ll sure will be submit speaking proposals in 2014)
  • Work with people that make me grow on sharing great stuff
  • Tell stories that help people change

2013 Wrap-up

December 20, 2013

Quite an interesting year this one.

At ITIL Blues blog I saw a decline in visits (back to 2009!) even though this year was the year I posted more since my first post. I’ve passed the 100th posts mark. That’s where content is. The action, the communication lives in Twitter.

I started interviewing Service Management people in June and it has been a great ride! I recommend reading them here: Rob England, Antonio Valle Salas (Spanish), Jan van Bon, Lynda Cooper and Kaimar Karu.

Other topics I dwelved into: Interviewing, Stakeholders, Service Catalog versus Service Request Catalog, Change, People.

I’ve also posted on events I participated as a speaker in Copenhagen and Helsinki (great people up there) or as a one-time blogger (#SMFlashBook – great tips on Service Catalog here!).

I had the privilege of meeting in real life (devirtualize as Antonio said :)) fantastic practitioners and learnt quite a few things.

Feels like warming up for 2014. Thank you all for the ride.

Até já,


An interview with Kaimar Karu

December 3, 2013

I met Kaimar Karu from Estonia at itSMF Finland TOP10 conference. I like what he’s being doing bringing DevOps attitude and awareness to ITSM feud. Just a few days from next itSMF Estonia conference (hum geeky date: 11.12.13, in  beautiful Tallinn) here goes his suurepärane interview.

Karu-as-a-Speaker, itSMF TOP10, Helsinki (4th October 2013)

KaaS = Kaimar-as-a-Speaker, itSMF TOP10, Helsinki (4th October 2013)

1. You were a runner-up in the 2013 Estonian Beer Sommelier competition. I am really curious on this: Do you find useful insights that may, let’s say, distilled to your work from such a pleasant and honorable activity?

I don’t really distinguish between work and fun – everything in my life I’ve decided to keep doing is, for me, a pleasant activity. I treat everything as a learning opportunity, and lean towards activities where I can make other people’s lives better in some way. Sometimes it is an ITIL or PRINCE2 training where we don’t stop with just the theory, but discuss the real life problems the delegates have, and possible solutions to these. And sometimes, it’s that carefully chosen bottle of beer I’ve recommended my friend to try with his dish. Once you see your customer or friend experiencing that moment of clarity and discovery – from “Aha, this is how I should approach this issue!” to “Aha, I would never have thought of matching beer with a dessert!” – you just want to keep doing it 🙂

There is no “best” beer. Some beers are rather universal and can go with anything, which in most cases unfortunately also makes them rather bland (with the exception of Saison, perhaps). Some beers are very unique, and might require an acquired taste – making them exceptional for some people, and downright disgusting for others. If your beer needs to stand up to bold flavors of the dish, you have to choose a bold beer – approach your slow-cooked wild boar with a light lager, and you will see it is not a fair match. Also, when the contrast you create is too strong, the tastes start fighting, rather than complimenting each other and your superb meal will be ruined by the dichotomy. You need to consider the occasion, the context and the objective. Not surprisingly, all of this applies to frameworks (e.g. ITIL) too.

2. I think there’s still little knowledge on DevOps around ITSM community (it could be just me!) and that makes it difficult to adopt or seek mutual benefits. Do you agree? What approach do you favor regarding DevOps and ITSM for organizations to make the most of it?

We are getting there 🙂 If in April this year, when I delivered my own ITSM-DevOps presentation ( at SITS13, almost noone had heard of DevOps and we had people almost fainting at the mention of hundreds of releases per day, the audience at ITSM13 in Birmingham was already much more knowledgeable. There has been a lot of discussions around DevOps in general, and also about how traditional ITSM and DevOps can fit together. In the early days of DevOps there were more than a few naysayers, who were absolutely certain that these two concepts can never co-exist and used any opportunity available to bash one or the other. Recently, there has been less of that and more of “OK, let’s see what we can learn from that then” attitude, which I think is great.

We also need to be cautious, because not all concepts in DevOps can work for all organisations. All IT systems do not require tens or hundreds of releases per day, and we do not have to take the Procrustean approach when introducing DevOps in the organisation. Some concepts, on the other hand, are universal – no silos, no blame, respect, etc. These might sound like obvious things, but when you look at how the teams in organisations actually work, the picture is not pretty. We might acknowledge, deep down, that blame is bad and respect is good, but for some reason, we often fail to apply that belief in the workplace. It takes a conscious effort.

DevOps is of course not just about these touchy-feely concepts – through practice, many organisations have found specific ways how to make things happen, and developed specific tools to support the change. Luckily, the DevOps-minded practitioners are extremely willing to share, so please make use of this.

One of the books I would definitely recommend to IT and ITSM specialists in traditional enterprises is “The Phoenix Project” ( which is perhaps the best introduction to this new world of actually listening to other teams and working together. It is not a technical book, nor does it give you a specific checklist to follow, but once you’ve read it, you kind of know what to do next 🙂

3. What is your view on ITIL training future, now that we have Axelos riding it?

Having attended ITIL trainings by several providers as a delegate, and used the materials from different providers later on when delivering courses, I’d like AXELOS to clean up the space a bit. I feel there are too many subpar offerings on the market, which benefit only the training providers, not the delegates nor the ITSM community in general.

I believe various teaching and learning methods have to used to maximise the value of trainings. E-learning, for instance, is a great opportunity – but if the main sales point for this is the price, the materials are crap and there is little to no support for the delegates during their learning period, then this is not a good training.

My view is that AXELOS should develop a core set of materials to cover the official syllabus for ITIL trainings. This introduces much more flexibility in the model – instead of tens and tens of ATOs working on their own materials and needing a considerable amount of time after each change to the framework to update the materials, the centrally managed set can already be updated during the framework update process. This saves time and money and guarantees, for the delegates, that the materials used have not just passed the formal syllabus check, but incorporate the feedback from thousands of trainers and hundreds of thousands of delegates from all around the world. AXELOS should, at the same time, allow the ATOs to develop additional offerings based on ITIL, PRINCE2 and other frameworks, enriching the customer experience.

4. Is there a missing link between Prince2 and ITIL?

There certainly is. How many project managers have you seen on ITIL courses, and vice versa? The somewhat siloed approach many organisations have taken doesn’t help the specialists in different areas to understand how they fit in the big picture. When the organisation starts thinking about introducing some ITIL concepts in their processes, this is rarely managed as a proper project. At the same time, when something is handled as a project, the operational part – where ITIL can help – is rarely considered. The emergence of DevOps will help to improve the situation.

I wouldn’t say we need another theory or framework to sit between ITIL and PRINCE2 (or Service Management and Project Management in general). We need to connect the dots and raise awareness in both camps about what the other party is doing. The concepts of DevOps are not applicable just for the cooperation between Development and Operations – they can be applied to various teams in the organisation, working towards the same goal. Although it might seem, that each team have their own – and sometimes incompatible – objectives, at the end of the day, everybody’s there to enable the Business.

5. Another itSMF Estonia conference is coming up soon – what are your expectations for this year?

Indeed, this year’s conference is on December 11 – last year we managed to snatch the date 12.12.12, so this year we went for a similar effect, 11.12.13 🙂 Aale Roos will be on stage at 14:15:16, introducing the concepts of Service Desk 2.0.

Over the past few years, our goal has been to make our conference more international by inviting more speakers from abroad to share their experience and ideas with the local ITSM specialists. This, in turn, has attracted more delegates from neighbouring countries, and this year we have delegates, in addition to Estonia, from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, UK, US, Russia, Finland and Sweden. So this year’s conference will be truly international, which is why we have built the program in a way that maximizes the engagement opportunities.

We are proud to be the first event in the region to have AXELOS’s CEO Peter Hepworth attending. After the conference close we will host an international forum, where the participants can ask about the future of ITIL, voice their concerns and provide input for Axelos. Our voice will be the voice of small, non English speaking practitioner communities.

Can’t top itSMF TOP 10 from Finland

November 27, 2013

Good people from itSMF Finland were gentle to me and I got to speak and do a workshop for CIOs.

This conference gets around 350 attendees and is a must for professionals and practitioners.

Really professional for a volunteering effort – it showed on the seamless conference experience it provided to all attendees. I got far more I expected. Met great ITSM people in real life (that may be the best reason for attending an event like this, the opportunity to talk and share with practitioners).

A room with a view

A room with a view

Regarding the conference, I won’t go in too much detail. Roman Jouravlev wrote a nice post. The trend I saw at itSMF Denmark for new approaches (like ISM by Jan van Bon) and for shaking the ITIL building is going strong.

Kaimar as a Speaker (KaaS)

Kaimar as a Speaker (KaaS)

Out ot ITIL ground stuff like DevOps (Kaimar Karu from Estonia) or how to go closer to the user (Patrick Bolger) were there too. Solid stuff from Barclay Rae and Dave Jones too. I didn’t had the chance to saw them all speaking but I have to share with you what the guys from Dream Brokers told me: “We like this conference, it’s not full of geeks – you can TALK with people”.

You can watch these wonderful speakers at Vimeo here.

The itSMF Finland voluntary group for TOP10 edition

The itSMF Finland voluntary group for TOP10 edition

All itSMF Finland team was perfect. It showed the one year orchestrated effort. Struck me how humble and low key people are. By the way, at least for ITSM, Finns are not that shy. I felt home. A special thanks to power house Paula Määttänen  and get-the-job-done Piia Karvonen. And Thomas. And Elina, the orchestrator.

Tar will remain on my olfactory area of the brain for quite a while. How about that for  a story…

Drawing Stories for a Change (or two)

October 25, 2013

I’ve been writing and talking (video) about Storytelling applied to service management. And drawing stories too…

A eventful story

Events and Alarms (Mush and Room automate somewhat)

I believe telling stories is a natural and potent way of sharing and supporting change.

Want to see me presenting on storytelling at TFT14  (live drawing included, no mushrooms will be harmed), the global follow-the-sun 24 hour free online ITSM conference, that will happen next February? Vote me up!

#SMFlashBook – My Best Tip for building the Service Catalog

October 25, 2013

How to spot the most important services

[This post is part of a worldwide flashbook or flashblog, where many contributors simultaneously publish on the topic of “My top tip for building a service catalogue”. I took this paragraph from Rob’s post]

In short: Ask line of business managers what one IT service would hurt most if unavailable.

Vintage menu

Vintage menu, some rights reserved

The Service Catalog has a special unique characteristic: It uses end user language – not IT lingo!

So, in order to get the right services and have it as complete as possible, you can’t fail if you ask them. It’s a good idea to start with the most critical services in order to understand what really matters to the customer.

Extra tip: If they can’t come up with one, then ask them what most frequent complaints their users have regarding IT services.

More from ITIL Blues:

  • A Mush&Room cartoon on service request catalog here.
  • A diagram for service catalog context within ITIL aqui.
  • The difference between service catalog and service request catalog täällä.
  • A different view on service catalog, depending on perspective ici.

An interview with Lynda Cooper

October 18, 2013

Lynda taught me ISO 20000 and gave excellent advice a few years ago, showing incredible availability just when I needed it. She has the not so common knack for clarity, something I admire and aspire to.

Lynda Cooper

Here’s the interview:

1. What’s so special about Portugal?
The weather of course! I find everyone very friendly with good English which helps me as I only speak a very few words of Portuguese.

2. How do you see the Portuguese market willingness for topics like IT standards and service management?
Portugal is embracing standards and best practice frameworks. There is a realisation that to compete and to be seen to be good, it is necessary to use best practice and to prove that you are good by certification against standards.

3. Would a small organization really see return on investing in ISO 20000? Are there alternatives for this case?
ISO20000 is applicable to all organisations – large and small. Of course, it is always difficult for a small organisation to justify investing in standards. Each small organisation has to look at what the benefits will be. For example, if the small organisation cannot compete for contracts or will have a distinct advantage in competing for contracts with ISO20000, then just winning 1 or 2 extra contracts due to being certified to ISO20000 will provide the return.
An alternative to ISO20000 could be ISO 9001 which is more generic.

4. Standards like ISO 90006 and ISO 27013 focus on integration between standards. From your experience what approaches may work best for establishing an integrated management system (assuming no previous experience inside the organization)?
An integrated management system needs to recognise that there will be 3 elements:
– those processes that are common to all the standards in the IMS e.g. internal audit
– those processes that are unique to one standard e.g. budgeting and accounting for services in ISO20000
– those processes which have a partial overlap with another standard e.g. configuration management in ISO20000 partially overlaps with Clauses 7.5.3 and 7.5.5 in ISO 9001.
Once these are identified, it is easier to construct the IMS.

5. [Question from Antonio Valle Salas!] Hello Lynda,
given your strong relationship with ISO 20000, what is your opinion about the recent presentation of the spanish standard UNE 71020 that enables an incremental model for the service management system certification? Do you think that this standard will earn the respect of the international community and maybe we will see a fast-track for an incremental ISO 20.000 certification?
I must admit that I had to go away and look up UNE 71020 so that was interesting for me. An incremental model of certification had been proposed at ISO level for ISO20000 a few years ago. It was rejected on the basis that ISO20000 was designed with an integrated process approach and just a few processes does not represent a full management system and all its benefits.
It will be interesting to see if the certification bodies are willing to offer a certification scheme against UNE 71020 and the take up of this standard. I will watch with interest.

one more story – in Denmark

October 7, 2013

Once upon a time in Danmark…

Fatelavn – Carnival tradition in Denmark

One day,  surely on a shiny and fresh day, gentle and merry folks of Denmark accepted my humble speaking proposal on Storytelling.

Because of that, I did my best so a meaningful story would come to life

Until finally, in what looked liked just a few days after, at Köbehavn  I found myself in front of people actually looking for a story to be told.

Super-sweet. Felt fantastic. I  missed talking and see people so close, listening, groking, participating – and yes taking photos of what touched them or  in that moment was relevant.

It was a great experience at itSMF Danmark. Thanks to Michael Imhoff and Katja Dollerup!

One week later I went for the itSMF Finland conference. Ah, but that is another story.

[for more on how to use the Pixar story pitch look here]

The social RACI matrix

August 20, 2013

RACI matrices are intriguing for me. Here’s why: my most successful post is the one I wrote on RACI matrix  (as measured by number of times visited – note that the vast majority of people land there via search engine results). I suspect most visits are part of exam preparation for ITIL Foundation…

I believe the reason behind this “success” is people really want to clearly define who’s who, specially when many parties are involved. So they use RACI matrices. But there’s not much readily accessible literature on this.


Life on the wire, by Karunakar Rayker, Some Rights Reserved

There are variants of RACI matrix, like using more letters to further characterize roles (one example: Support is a resource allocated to the Responsible that contributes for the task execution).

I’ve seen them being used, over and over, although the use of I (Informed) and C (Collaborate) is generally not consistent . The other two letters are clear enough (the one doing it is the Responsible, the one owning it is the Accountable).

I propose this social interpretation for I and C, in search of more universal usage for RACI matrices:

  • I − Informed, means the person, role or group has to be notified about the result of task. It’s up to the target to decide what to do with it. As before, at this level we don’t care about how to inform, but there has to be some message. Things like the channel for communication and what information flows are dealt with somewhere else. It’s one way communication.
  • − Collaborate, means that for this task I may or not engage others who eventually will help me fulfill the task. A tool implementing activities would allow for specific social interaction with the assigned Cs whenever this letter is associated with a task. Social collaboration on a need basis only. It is two way communication.

I think this topic deserves more discussion, the pursuit of a powerful set of attributes capable of representing different kinds of participation in activities. Plus, it enables expressing requirements in a way that can then be implemented in a tool.