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Top rope management

At the upcoming itSMF conference, I will be presenting on how I work with Service Desks to try and change the perception of what a Service Desk is and can do. This is done with a combination of skilling up people and empowerment, but the underlying message is management and leadership for my talk.

We have all worked for them at some point in our careers, the managers who you always ask ‘What do they actually do?’ You see them go to countless meeting and all smiles but what is their output? What or how does their team benefit? When the team asks them a question or needs advice, it is quickly deflected with ‘You need to work this out, it isn’t my job’. In John Maxwell ‘5 levels of leadership’ talk, he would describe them as a Level 1 manager. The leader the team only follows because they have the title.

When I was younger, I used to watch wrestling, every Saturday afternoon watching wrestlers go at each other. One move that got everyone on their feet and the commentator’s voice would go up an octave, was when the opponent was on the floor and the wrestler climbed to the top rope and then jumped. If they landed right on the opponent, they would hook the leg, a 10 count and the match was over. If the opponent rolled away, the wrestler would land on the floor and probably lose the match. However, why was this so exciting? It showed total commitment and bravery, as there was no safety net for the wrestler.

I would describe my management style as ‘Top rope management’; though my opponent isn’t my staff members, but instead boredom and lack of motivation. I have to beat these two opponents or my staff will leave. I don’t want to be a level 1 manager but show bravery and commitment to do things out of the norm for my team and not accept ‘…but we have always done it this way’ if it doesn’t make sense or could be done better.

I want my team to follow me because they want to, they see me getting results and put them in the right positions to show off their talents. We have all seen various stats and articles all saying the same thing: People leave because of their manager and not always due to the money as proven in Dan Pink’s Ted Talk ‘The Puzzle of motivation’.

In the talk, the premise is that if you give autonomy, mastery and purpose to people then they will be more motivated than just giving them more money. My presentation is all about a strategy which was alternative to the convention of what a Service Desk should or could do and how I have tried to give autonomy, mastery and purpose to my teams. The presentation shows how I have :

  • Skilled up my teams so there are no favourites people always want to always speak to when they have a problem
  • Enhances the relationships between the Service Desk, other IT teams and the business.
  • Empowered them to come up with ideas improve themselves and their work situation
  • Highlighted and promoted talent within the team to other teams
  • Trend analysis designed to show workloads and trends to try and either:

 

A final quote sums how I try to adopt an attitude to challenge convention with unconventional ways of working :

“It is more fun to be a pirate than join the navy’

Steve Jobs

If you are attending the event then hopefully you can attend my session ‘Rethink the Service Desk role to change its image forever’ these are the three takeaways :

  • Understand how the service desk can value add to the business and IT
  • Rethink the service desk role and the career path it offers
  • Identify and show off talent in the Service Desk team in a structured way

 

 

Let me level with you about ITIL

Ok, let me level with you and tell you how I think of ITIL.

ITIL = Providing value to customers = Customers are more likely to give IT more money as they saw a value giving IT some money last year

THAT IS IT. Nothing more, nothing less.

It drives me crazy listening to techies people telling me how great their MPLS link is, how there server room is virtulised but how ITIL is such a waste of time ITIL is, and how managing service is a thankless task. By saying this, you are a dinosaur, left in an ages time is forgetting.

The business simply does not care how wizzy the MPLS link is, what it does or you can deploy an extra 500Gb of SAN storage in a matter of seconds. IT is their job to make sure these things run.

The amount of people in the business who cares about your exciting links are nobody. NOBODY CARES. Nuda, zero, wasting breath, zilch, square root of nothing is…nothing.

What they do care about is how deploying 500Gb of storage can keep their business running as their storage will not run out of space or their speed to access data is enhanced by having a great MPLS link.

ITIL is just a bunch of great ideas which you can use to inspire you to think of other ways to give better customer value or to use the ideas already in the book to help provide value. ITIL is just common sense packaged in a way IT people might actually think about it.

The people who think ITIL is some sort of bible and must be followed religiously are also as bad as the techies who think people care about their technology. If you are slowing down the business or IT by implementing something then this is why ITIL has such a bad name. Think about what you are doing or thinking about and ask your self, how does this create value? I don’t care what is writing on page 72 of the Service Operations book, nor do I care if I am using the exact titles assigned by the book. It is what works for your business, there is no such thing as ITIL certified nor is there ITIL police.

By making small changes to the way your IT organization works with itself and with the business then all the small changes will add up to huge changes. These changes will enhance the way IT interacts with itself or with the business and provides greater value.

This blog is just to try and how ways in which ITIL can be thought about and different ways in which I have improved my IT organization. I strongly believe in a Service Desk as they are your gate keepers between the business and IT, get this wrong and the business will not find value, get this right and you are on a winning path. So there will be massive focus on how to get a Service Desk firing on all cylinders.