Saturday, February 2, 2013

People Being People

This post is about the critical role people play in ITSM efforts. It is inspired by recently getting the pleasure to discuss ITSM with Pink Elephant's Troy DuMoulin. He shared a blog about rethinking the common mantra of People, Process, and Tools and I'd like to expand on this line of thought a bit.

I created a graphic that I think is a more accurate reflection of the relationship between these three pillars of how work gets done.

  • People Being People - I first heard about the concept of jen from Alan Watts. In the context of ITSM, we can never forget that people are going to behave as people throughout history always have. They will forget things, they will sometimes take advantage of others, they will break rules to help others, and they will behave in all other sorts of noble and depraved manners. You can't ignore it, and you'll always have surprising and unexpected behaviors to keep things interesting.
  • People Executing Process - Processes don't execute themselves. Furthermore, people don't truly execute a process, they execute their understanding of a process. Troy shared a great quote on this topic - "the tangibles are not the deliverables". The reason to create documentation is to facilitate a common understanding among people. Otherwise it's just ink on paper on a shelf!
  • People Employing Tools - Tools are powerful, yet they can never guarantee quality or effectiveness. People will employ tools to do things they consider valuable, and "fire" them if they get in the way. That may or may not match up with your intent! For instance, if a Service Desk analyst values efficiency over data quality, don't be shocked when they figure out the quickest way to record a valid Incident record so they can get to the next caller. 
The key takeaway is that we tend to fall short of what people need to adopt ITSM. A great approach to use in ITSM is the Balanced Diversity portfolio advocated by Karen Ferris. Whatever approach you take, give yourself some slack when your improvement efforts are impacted by people factors. After all, you're people too!