The surprising bonus value of ITIL CAB

CAB is arguably the most widely adopted ITIL® process, but its value goes far beyond Change Management. CAB rallies people  around a common cause; the perfect antidote for silos and fragmented service delivery.

Didn’t see that one coming

In What is an ITIL CAB: A Simple Explanation I talk about CAB evaluating changes for business impact. The heart of Change Management, and by itself a critical function of a healthy IT organization.

But the last time I lead a Change Management implementation, I was surprised by the boost to culture that I hadn’t seen coming.

ITIL CAB breaks down silos

The organization had strong silos, each operating independently with varied levels of success. Over time, as the infrastructure became increasingly complex, changes in one silo often had unintended and catastrophic consequences in others. The business impact was high, and it was clear better change management was needed.

As we implemented a Basic ITIL Change Management Program, the cross functional CAB met every Thursday morning to review upcoming changes. The group was a bit frosty at first, argumentative and confrontational at times. Staff were offended when people in other silos asked about their changes. To say the least, it was awkward in the beginning. There were times when I thought for sure we would never get there.

But we stayed the course and kept meeting to review changes. Slowly, CAB became a weekly touch point of sorts. Laughter became common. The group worked through forming and storming, and started norming and performing. Expertise was shared across silos. Teams learned from each other. Excellent practices in one area were adopted as cultural norms for Change Management.

People stayed after the CAB meeting to talk shop. Informal discussion facilitated cross team collaboration.

As the CAB rose above their silos, a missing cultural element started to emerge – one that I’ve since called OneTeam.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall

If silos ever had a legitimate place in IT Services, those days are but a distant memory. It’s really hard… no, make that impossible to deliver good service in an organization with strong silos. In high performance IT organizations, Business Value is Created Horizontally – cutting across silos.

If you have:

  • Finger pointing and blame storming
  • “not my problem”, “network’s fine, must be the application”
  • Each team has own systems and processes
  • Customer-facing web organized by team (rather than services)
  • Tickets bouncing from group to group
  • Team = work group (not IT)
  • root cause” means proving “we” aren’t at fault

You’ve got walls that are strangling effective teamITIL CAB OneTeam Collaborationwork and collaboration. And your customers are paying the price in lost efficiency, infrastructure instability, and poor customer experience.

The walls between groups have to come down for effective IT delivery. It’s not some kind of group-hug-sing-kumbaya fluffy feel-good. For CAB to be effective, you must have cross functional collaboration. The kind that doesn’t think us versus them, throw rocks, or place blame.

Good for Change Management. Good for IT culture.

The Family Dinner

Becky Hand wrote about The Benefits of Eating Together over at SparkPeople. Its an institution that’s been practiced for thousands of years.

The family dinner is a time of bonding together. A time to listen and share. To talk about the details of the day. A check-in point where we come together and collectively understand who and what we are.

Wisdom is passed on, values explored. Identity is formed.

The next generation learns family history and values in action. The older generation learns about what’s new in the world, and together we explore what it means, and how to approach it.

A strong sense of belonging and understanding comes from this simple sharing. It’s a powerful base from which we face the challenges of our lives. Every day, win or loose, we find wisdom, knowledge, and unconditional support.

This is the bonus value of CAB. It’s a prototype for healthy IT culture.

No silos.

No walls.

OneTeam working seamlessly together toward a shared goal.

A twofer!

What’s not to like in that?

CAB is critical to effectively managing changes. By itself, a functional CAB will greatly improve change implementation, risk analysis, and reduction of business impact.

But for a silo’d IT group, CAB may be the first opportunity staff have to experience OneTeam collaboration. And the benefits go a long way toward opening up lines of communication and enabling excellence in IT Service Management.

Have a silo’d culture? Need better cross functional collaboration and teamwork?

Implementing a basic CAB can do wonders, and it’s not as hard as you might think. See how in How to Implement Basic ITIL Change Management.

Photo Credit: dsearls via Compfight cc