ITIL and creating a sense of Urgency

There’s an interesting post over at the Item Community forum at the moment. Contributor ITILNeutral explains how ITIL is being introduced at his company:

…A sizeable number of staff will lose their jobs (there is very little assimilation, everyone of us has to be re-interviewed for our jobs which we are totally not qualified for as far as ITIL is concerned)… ...As an example the few colleagues whose jobs are deemed already to be ITIL compatible have been assimulated but they have taken up to a £5,000 a year pay cut each...

Pretty surprising stuff. It’s unusual for management to take such drastic steps for the sake (if nothing else) of simple expediency. Management actions such as this cause uncertainty, and uncertainty is a catalyst for any organisation’s brightest and best to leave for other employment – something that can have quite devastating effects in the short and medium terms to services delivered to customers.

Although I’ve not experienced such a ‘wrecking’ approach from management I have seen something similar in my career when a former employer (and I job I enjoyed very much) ran into financial difficulties. Within 3 months the most 5 most experienced and able staff had left, rather than waiting to be ‘downsized’. My recollection is that the business suffered further as a result.

On the whole, based on what ITILNeutral has written, I’d regard the actions of managers there as plain barmy. However, it would be interesting to see what the state of IT services in the company were like, and to see if this response was some kind of backlash from a frustrated and angry business/user community. Over the years I’ve seen some pretty poor IT helpdesk/service desk operations where staff can’t be bothered to pick up the phone, cherry pick Incidents so that those that are ‘difficult’ or involve awkward customers are never attended to, and return very poor service for the investment their companies have made.

In companies like these achieving any kind of organisation change is difficult – no amount of ITIL training or role play or simulation will help. My response to this in the past has been to look carefully at team leaders – to recruit or appoint the right people, and to use them as the catalysts for change, so that rather than make cultural and service delivery changes to a team of 30, we are working with teams of something like 5 or 6. In effect, breaking the problem down into more manageable pieces and tackling resistance of apathy on the level of the team.

Generally I’ve not found it necessary to be anywhere near as confrontational.

My first ever boss told me that being a manager in IT was 'like training cats'. With that in mind, and because there seems to be a degree of irrationality in the new manager in this organisation, everyone concerned has my sympathy.