There is a saying about a certain road, to a rather inhospitable destination, and how it is paved with the best intentions. For the most part I have heard, and applied, this maxim throughout my personal and professional life. Having many times, traveled my own roads, laid with my own good ideas of a grand outcome, only to find myself in a complete mess, blaming myself and scoffing at the thought of even having had an idea. My own IT projects, both successful and unsuccessful, have followed this path.
Of course, all those failures align to experience, and the risks taken, while sometimes costly - pay dividends down the road in the form of even better successes. In a way, it's like our own fear of getting lost, making that wrong turn, and then not know where we are going. However, what we fail to realize, is that taking wrong turns, especially to those destinations we expect to return to over and over again, means we will very unlikely repeat such a mistake in the future. Moreover, as long as we remember the past, and take good notes for when we can't quite remember, our triumph will be built on tribulation.
ITIL, or any mechanism for improvement in your IT organization will follow this path. You will likely make some mistakes, but ultimately well-planned, commitment to change will always make your organization better. That is, as long as you accept mistakes will be made, that even if you train your team in a 3-day ITIL cram session they will still not be experts, that, given the absence of perfection, there is no wrong way. To do this though, you, and your whole organization for that matter, must submit to learning from the mistakes you make.
It won't be easy though. Many experts work, tirelessly it would sometimes seem, to convince organizations (IT and the like) that any effort that doesn't seek perfection won't be worth doing, that you must be "all-in" to the latest rantings of an Internet pundit (present company excluded) in order to find success. That even failure to talk squarely and correctly with the latest terminology and jargon will somehow impact your project. This simply isn't true, and ITIL projects seem to suffer a similar fate.
While there are exceptions to this rule, regulated industries being the most logical first choice, there is almost infinite "wiggle room" with regard to changes you put into place within your organization. For those of you just starting on your journey to make improvements, we thought we'd put together a quick list of the four most common misconceptions we find. Mention these in the right, or perhaps wrong, circle and you will likely get your hand slapped. However, even though there may be academic merit in their argument, for those just beginning, try not to fret over any of these items. If you want to take it a step further, then check out our introduction to ITIL terms. Simply click on the link below to get access to thirty five of the most relevant ITIL terms defined in a language you can understand.
Implementing ITIL - In truth, ITIL isn't something you implement. However, that can tend to be an abstract thought in the world of business where ideas are implemented on a daily basis. If it makes more sense in your organization, especially if you are trying to get funding, you call it an implementation all you want. What you do with the best practices that ITIL offers will be what makes the difference.
Calling ITIL a Project - We are guilty of this one as well, though we tend to think of it more an issue of semantics. While we'd love to see immaculate adoption of ITIL, it is most likely going to take a project, and perhaps a project manager or two to get even a few core pieces of the ITIL philosophy integrated into your organization.
Getting Certified in ITIL - You can't go wrong with more training. Our close ties with Pink Elephant naturally urge us to recommend them as a great place to start. However, if you carry the understanding that certification is more akin to obtaining knowledge, and less about official license to "install ITIL" in your organization, you will be just fine.
Paying an ITIL Expert - "Gasp!" There are people that make a living by helping organizations adopt the best practices, recommendations, and principles of ITIL. This seems far less egregious than bottling water and selling it, and that really isn't that bad either. In both cases there is a choice. You can choose to forge your own path, or utilize some of the remarkable resources and consultants that really can make the difference between failure and success. Just make sure you do your own due diligence, and find a real expert. It's the difference between say water out of the hose, and highly filtered tap water - something you can taste.
Image: Flickr | dano