IT Service Management has and will continue to be a vital element of the IT organization and of the business. But, too often we assume that technology and best practices alone can elevate the performance of ITSM to the levels required by IT and the successful business of the future. While these areas can certainly help, the future of ITSM and the path to creating a high-performing ITSM organization is about much more than great tools, standards and optimized business processes. The future of ITSM and the ability to build a strong and dynamic ITSM capability demands a new focus.

This new focus will be driven by shaping a new culture and one very different than the traditional culture of ITSM and the IT organization.

Expanding a bit on this idea of a new culture for ITSM, let’s look at a few examples of what the leadership of IT and each of our teams can be doing now and in the future to accelerate this change and make the new culture a reality.

Focus on Results

This is a strategic viewpoint that will be embraced by an increasing number of ITSM organizations and one that will create a shower of benefits over time. It is not enough to simply deliver services and improve the internal performance of processes that support these services. We now must understand and measure the results and benefits delivered to employees and customers for each service and each investment of precious resources. By better understanding the measurable benefits and results driven by the services delivered through ITSM, we’re able to make better decisions, create new priorities, and focus our investments where they will have the greatest impact. This focus on results also creates a more natural alignment with the business and with our key business owners who are likely attuned to the same metrics.

This focus will launch an investigation to identify and then understand the business results we expect to achieve for all services delivered through ITSM.

Outreach to the Business

The ITSM organization must drive a proactive outreach to the business and to key business owners with a simple purpose: to help every employee in the organization do their job better every day. This is a long overdue discussion and one that will be welcomed. By assisting every employee to be at their best every day, we then carry this value through the connections of the business—all the way to the customer. 

The services of ITSM and systems of IT are tremendous enablers in the work that is performed across the organization every day. Traditionally, the ITSM team was programmed to be reactive to the needs to the business given the practical limitations of resources, high volumes of incidents, and a general lack of time and capacity. This new outreach is able to shift this reactive lifestyle to one that is more proactive and more entrepreneurial.

The ITSM-led outreach should be initiated, owned, and driven by the ITSM organization, and as such will have a widespread and immediate impact on the performance of the business.

Diversity in All Things

Our work on building a new culture for ITSM (and for IT) simply wouldn't be complete without a commitment to a more diverse workforce. While this clearly includes more women in all ITSM roles (current estimates put the percentage of women in IT at 10-15%), this alone is not enough. 

The scope of diversity must include more diverse and much needed skills across the ITSM workforce, including skills related to the customer, innovation, business management, automation and AI, creativivity, financial planning, and communication, to name a few. This will create a new set of priorities when interviewing and hiring new staff for ITSM, and will complement the ongoing need for traditional ITSM domain and technical skills.

With a more diverse workforce, we drive new discussions, shape better decisions, build a more balanced and adaptable team, achieve new insights, and create a higher performing ITSM organization.

Engine for Innovation

A new culture for ITSM can’t be properly equipped for future success if missing a passion for innovation and a plan for building a capability to first nurture and then advance the ideas that make innovation possible. This is clearly not a business-as-usual model that normally does not look to ITSM as a source of the innovation that is increasingly critical to every organization. But this too must change, and given the high degree of touch and influence ITSM has across the business, ITSM is a natural point of opportunity to drive innovation from within. 

This innovation can begin with the simple goal of improving the user experience for each of our many IT systems, including the increasingly common experiences of service catalog and self service. With an improved user experience, we are creating happier and more productive employees and customers, which in turn unlocks speed and agility across the business. All great innovations begin with an idea, and so we must create the opportunity for these ideas to be shared and then for the most promising ideas to be taken forward. 

On a related note, being open to new ideas is a fantastic mindset to promote across the ITSM culture and a behavior I consistently see in the very best IT and ITSM organizations.

While our work on best practices and leveraging frameworks including ITIL, COBIT, ISO, Agile, and much more will continue in ITSM, we must recognize the value of culture and make equal time for a focus on our people and teams. Given the rapidly changing global landscape of business, this investment in the talented people and a new culture for ITSM has the potential to play a bigger role in the transformation of the IT organization over the next decade than will the continued advancement of technology, tools, and best practices. The good news is that this is fully under our control and the effort of building a new culture can start today.

Keep the faith my friends.