ITIL Island – that mythical place we love to visit.

If you’ve ever taken an ITIL class, you’ve most likely experienced ‘ITIL Island’. ITIL island is a great place to be. A place where CIOs are always wanting more ITIL and asking you for your expert advice on implementing and improving ITIL processes.

One of my staff called me on the first break of her first ITIL Intermediate class… “this would NEVER happen at <our organization>”. Worse, the instructor wanted to focus on the material, and not delve deep into our organization’s problems. With a deep sigh, I agreed, and asked her to suspend her disbelief, get everything she could out of the class, and we’d work it out when she got back to work.

It has a name, this place we go while training – ITIL Island. A mythical place, this island. Things are different here on the island. It’s like no place you know, but with a strange familiarity to many places you’ve been. It’s good news and bad.

The Good News

ITIL Island helps us push the “real world” off long enough to get the information we need to be successful in implementing ITIL when we go back. By avoiding unnecessary entanglements with reality, we’re able to focus in on the key concepts.

You also get a much-needed break from the demands of the office. Decompressing is important to learning. Disconnecting from the office (turning off the phone and ignoring email), much like while vacationing, is critical to successful learning.

Set realistic goals of ITIL training. Don’t be the guy in class that wants the instructor to solve your company’s problems, and please don’t be the guy who plays ‘Top That’, by  proving that, indeed, his company is so messed up that no one could possibly have a more difficult challenge than he. This doesn’t help anyone, least of all him.

Really do ‘suspend your disbelief’,  let go of your company’s challenges, and learn all you can while you’re on the island. I’ve found it useful to schedule ‘what did you learn, and what can we do in the next 90 days to improve’ meetings the week after folks return from class.

The Bad

The challenges that Service Management professionals face can be overwhelming at times. ITIL Island is full of hope and optimism. It’s the perfect antidote to the daily, often uphill grind of implementing Service Management. In short, it’s addictive. Once you experience it, you want to go back and get more.

As you spend more time on ITIL island, your real world skills start to erode. You find yourself wanting to go back where you were successful, and things worked “like they should”. This can seriously damage your Service Management program. The reason IT management approves ITIL training is so staff come back and help solve their real world problems, and generate business value.

Those who didn’t vacation on the island resent those who come back acting superior and dismissive of their real world challenges. They become academic and irrelevant. Not what you were going for.

The Best of Both Worlds

People need hope. They can withstand great adversity if they only have hope.  ITIL Island is a land  flowing with hope and optimism. Time on the island can help rejuvenate, and restore hope that we really can do this ITIL thing.  It really does work.

Suspend your disbelief. Leave the real word back at the office. Learn everything you can. Don’t expect the friendly folks on the island to solve your company’s problems. And, when you’re ready, head back to face your challenge with renewed energy, and spread around a little of the hope you brought back from ITIL Island.