IT Transformation; Hitting ‘The Wall’

If you’ve been working on IT Service Management for some time, you’ve undoubtedly had times when you are just exhausted. Not sure you can take another step.IT Transformation Hitting The Wall

Sound familiar?

So much to do, so much opportunity; an endless uphill battle.

And on top of that…

…the regular job most of us in Service Management have in addition to the transformational duties we take on.

It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint

When you started this journey, it was exciting. A world of opportunity to improve service delivery and customer value was wide open. “We can do this”, you said, and you took off with a sprint because you saw the value, and it was there for the taking.

But 20 miles down the road, things look different. This is hard.

Why did we even start? When do we get to the fun part? Where’s the finish line, with the crowd cheering me on?

You’ve hit The Wall. Your feet feel like lead weights, and every step is a struggle.

Of course, I’m making the analogy of running a marathon and IT Transformation with IT Service Management.

My personal running journey hasn’t taken me to marathon distance. Yet.  But my friends who marathon assure me that The Wall is a beast, and there’s not a lot to prepare you for it. It’s something you have to face.

The problem is, it’s not just the distance and the physical exertion. Somewhere around mile 20, many experience a demoralizing, overwhelming exhaustion, both mentally and physically.

It messes with your mind. Strips away your confidence. You were a fool for trying. You’re not a runner.

Give up.

The Lonely Road

Organizational Change is hard. (See How Organizational Change is Like Quitting Smoking) There are forces at work to keep things the same. Some is just human nature. Some is calculated resistance.

If only people would ‘get it’. See how excellent we will be when we get there.

It’s just… right….there. So close you can taste it.

But it’s always an uphill battle. There’s a business to run. Day-to-day results to deliver in the here-and-now. If only we could just get a few basics in place, things would be so much easier.

It wears on you to see a better way, and yet have to deliver as-is.

It’s lonely out here on the road. In running, it’s hearing your breathing and the rhythm of footfalls on the pavement. Chush. Chush. Chush.

If you’re like me, a yeoman runner at best, you find yourself alone behind the middle pack of Weekend Warriors. Ahead of the walkers who are enjoying the journey at a leisurely pace. Way behind the über-competitive leaders.

Occasionally, you pass or are passed by someone like yourself, but for the most part, you’re alone. Your motivation has to come from within. From a deeply held belief that we can do this.

Excellence in IT TransformationWe can be excellent.

And just when you feel like you have it made… around the next curve comes the uphill you weren’t expecting. A setback. A change of duties. A new strategic direction. A major failure, and the scrambling to understand what went wrong. (And sometimes who gets blamed.)

The Nameless Face Cheering You On

I love watching races near these obstacles. The look on runners’ faces resonates with me deeply. The combined look of desperation and relentless resolve. I see you.

You dare to pursue Excellence.

You inspire me.

You would crawl up that hill on bleeding knees if that’s what it took.

Let me be the nameless face in the crowd cheering you on.  It’s amazing people like you who make Service Management great.

I thank you for how you are making your organization great. One step at a time. One hill after another. You are weary and worn, but you refuse to give up. It’s not in you.

You faced the Beastly Wall, and you won.

You are Excellent.

Photo Credit: Gabino Cisneros via Compfight cc

  • Kenneth Gonzalez

    Good job on this post. I like it a lot!

    For me, this prompts a number of items to think about and consider, such as:
    * Identifying the underlying assumptions held;
    * Definitions of the basic terms used;
    * Individual and organizational intent;
    * The time horizon in which the “change” will occur;
    * What is meant by “beginning” and “end”, where transformation is concerned;
    * The fit within the larger universe in which the org finds itself;
    * And a host of other important factors.

    The single biggest missing that we can do something about is *approaching things thoughtfully* and actively questioning throughout the transformation effort.

    One thing is for sure, it’s not a time to go on auto-pilot! 😉

  • Dave Churchley

    I like the analagy – I’ve experienced similar in both my ITSM journey and my running (although I’ve not yet reached marathon distance either).

    One thing that I think can help (again, with both ITSM and running) is breaking the journey down into smaller, manageable pieces. When running a half-marathon, I run in 3.5 mile chunks (I have a 3.5 mile training route which I know inside out). I’m learning to take a similar approach into my ITSM journey: have an idea of where we want to be, take a simple first step and make iterative improvements (in manageable, 3.5 mile-sized chunks) to get closer to the desired destination.

  • Dave – So true.

    Lots of people “want to” run a marathon, far fewer get up the next morning and run.

    Setting the goal, and taking manageable steps in that direction is far better than having a perfect plan.

    Love to hear your thoughts on:

    http://itsmtransition.com/2014/06/itil-doesnt-work/

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