Deconstructing ITSM

14 January 2009

The Three Little Pigs of ITSM Improvement – A Parable

Filed under: ITSM — Joe Pearson @ 12:00
Tags: , , ,

(There are good ways to improve ITSM, and other ways…)


In the land of ITSM Continual Improvement, near the city of Process Development, there once lived three little pigs. Now the three little pigs weren’t as happy as the proverbial pigs in strategic, holistic information technology. They were continually being attacked by the wolves. They’d trying calling the wolves “customers”, and it didn’t help. So they got together and agreed that they needed to build stronger, best practice, houses made of brick. But they couldn’t agree on how they should do this.

One process at a time

The first little pig said to himself, “Well I have a house made of straw, and it’s basically working, although I do keep having to repair it after the wolves have visited. All I need is gradual improvement.” So he called in a consultant and the consultant told him what walls to build. The little pig was taken aback at the proposed cost, however, and decided to build it in stages. The consultant and he agreed that “Service Desk” was the most important wall, so they built that first. And – after six months – it was a very fine wall, with large windows complete with shutters on the outside and blinds on the inside, and an ornate door with a smart brass knocker and an electric bell and a post box, all aimed at providing a good interface with the customers.

The wolves huffed and puffed and blew down the Change Management wall (still made of straw), and the Service Level Management wall, and the don’t talk directly to specialists wall. And the first little pig was outsourced and had to run off and try and get a job with the other little pigs.

Cut “unnecessary” cost

Meanwhile, the second little pig had watched the beginning of the first little pig’s project and saw that it wasn’t going well. He called in a consultant and explained what he wanted. The little pig was even more taken aback at the proposed cost than his brother had been, but he was determined to build all the walls at once. So he asked the consultant to trim as much cost as possible from the project. And it got under way. The first thing they did was to knock down the little pig’s existing wooden house. After three months there were four walls in place.

The wolves came in through the empty window holes and door holes.

After another three months there were windows and doors and a roof. It didn’t look very pretty but it got the job done.

Until the wolves got really angry and huffed and puffed against one wall. It fell down. The little pig ran off in fright, realising that he had trimmed the costs too far and there was no integration between the walls.

Deliver value quickly

The third little pig had watched his brothers’ negotiations and projects and saw that they weren’t going very well. He called in a consultant and asked the consultant to mediate a discussion with the wolves. (“Mediate” is a grown-up word meaning “stop them from eating me” and “please don’t use that line about chickens being involved and pigs being committed”.) Together with the wolves, he outlined a minimum structure that could be delivered quickly and be of value. Yes, there were some ugly scenes with the wolves demanding the little pig’s backside and complaining that it wasn’t their job to define requirements, but I won’t scare you, dear reader, with the details. The consultant and the building contractor reluctantly agreed to work in short stages. After two months, they’d built a service counter and a change control window. The wolves huffed and puffed but mostly got on with their work. After another two months, they’d filled in a leather-bound Book of Configurations (but not coloured it in yet), and added another service counter and a status display. After another two months, the walls were up (but not plastered) and the wolves were not huffing and puffing very hard and everything was fine.

Sadly, there was no headcount available to give his brothers jobs, but the third little pig lived happily for the rest of the financial year.

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1 Comment »

  1. I swear I had not read Rob England’s article The Four Big Questions ITIL Doesn’t Answer (http://www.itsmwatch.com/itil/article.php/3799811) when I wrote this. But he expresses some of the same points – don’t try to implement one process at a time; don’t trust big plans – somewhat more directly!

    Comment by Joe Pearson — 4 February 2009 @ 16:02 | Reply


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