Making Space for ITSM

How to step back from your daily routine and give it the appropriate focus

In my role, I have the good fortune to travel around the country attending, and sometimes speaking at, conferences, seminars, and workshops all dedicated to the art of Service Management. At these events, I get the opportunity to meet people at every stage of their ITSM journey.

There are the newcomers eager to soak up all there is to learn about improving the business value of IT.

Then there are the intermediate Service Management practitioners who are focused on specific processes such as Incident Management or Change Management.

Another mainstay at these events is the ITSM consultant who is constantly looking to hone their craft and to network with other ITSM professionals.

No Service Management event would be complete without the vendors presenting the very latest Service Management tools that are essential for any ITSM program.

Lastly, there are the old timers, like me, who have been around the block once or twice. We are often jaded, sometimes cynical, but nevertheless passionate because we’ve seen the true value of Service Management programs.

While we all may be at different stages of our ITSM journey, the one thing we all have in common at these events is that we have taken time to disconnect from our busy lives, and have made the conscious decision to “make space for Service Management”.

I have been thinking a lot about Making Space lately, both from a practical and a philosophical perspective.

I believe it was Claude Debussy who said, “Music is the space between the notes.” A colleague and mentor of mine, Tony, recently reminded me about that famous quote.

He had observed that I get so fired-up when talking about Service Management that I sometimes don’t leave enough “space” between the thoughts. Tony, who is also an accomplished musician, went on to say that it’s the space between the thoughts that gives them rhythm, texture, and substance. If nothing else, it gives the listener the time to let the thoughts sink in, not to mention the time for me to take a breath.

This concept of “Making Space” is also very much applicable to your ITSM program. It’s rare in this day and age for a company to have dedicated Service Management resources. Most people are running their ITSM program from the corner of their desk. In other words, with whatever times remains after they get their real job done.

When we attend ITSM events outside of the office, we get the chance to rekindle the fire, to re-ignite the passion by engaging with other like-minded IT Service Management professionals.

The problem is that too many of us leave this passion lying on the conference floor when the event is over. We jump right back on the hamster wheel that is the daily routine of our personal and professional responsibilities.

Case in point, I recently had a series of very engaging conversations with some senior folk from a well-known company while they were attending a national service management conference.

These individuals were extremely interested in improving their Incident Management and Change Management processes as part of a Service Management tool implementation. We actually had multiple engaging conservations while at the show.

The dialog continued for a couple of weeks after the conference but, with each interaction, you could sense that their interest was waning. They still insisted that improving their process was important, but said they had to put it on the back burner and focus on their ITSM tool implementation. They were just going to implement their existing processes, what we sometimes call a “lift and shift” even though they knew, and admitted, that this wasn’t the right thing to do.

They just couldn’t “Make the Space for ITSM”. I sincerely hope things work out well for them, but I am afraid that their’s will be just one more failed tool implementation that gets blamed on the software.

There is also a well-known Zen Koan, a riddle in poem form, which goes something like “it’s not the bars, but the space between them, that restrains the tiger”.

itsm zen koanYou have to leave just the right amount of space for ITSM. Too much, the tiger will get out, too little, and you won’t see the beauty of it.

So what does all this talk of notes, spaces, and tigers have to do with IT Service Management?

It’s a metaphor, or perhaps a reminder, to focus on what is important. Don’t let the daily pressure and routine get in the way of doing what is right. If you take the time for Service Management you will be focused on the right thing; that is, superior service aligned to the needs of the business.

I am going to leave you with my own attempt at a Service Management Koan:

The art of service management is rare.

People don’t take the time to dare.

If you dare, there will come a chance.

The elusive advance.

David Mainville

David Mainville


David Mainville, CEO and co-founder of Navvia, is a passionate advocate of Service Management and a frequent presenter, blogger and well known member of the ITSM community. With over 35 years of experience, David has held progressively senior technical and management roles allowing him to "connect the dots" between the Business and IT. At Navvia, David leads the charge to bring innovative ITSM solutions to market focusing on Product Development, Marketing and Operations.


• Posted by David Mainville on May 27, 2013
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