(Nearly) Everything You Need to Know About Being an ITSM Pro

Everything You Need to Know About Being an ITSM Pro

In my 40+ years, I have gathered an enormous amount of feedback, insights, and experiences from the thousands of organizations that have taken part in our simulations or attended our presentations. This feedback has been condensed into the blogs and articles I write to share with, and give back to, the IT service management (ITSM) community of ITSM pros that has given me so much.

This article includes some of what I consider to be the most relevant insights. These are all shared to help people from making the same mistakes, wasting time and effort, and putting business value at risk. However, I know that most people reading this article won’t have the time to follow and read the links or the time to do anything with the tips (please see How Do You Value Your Time (and the Time of Others)?).

To help other #ITSM pros from making the same mistakes, wasting time and effort, and putting business value at risk, here @GamingPaul shares his advice from a 40+ year career in the industry. Share on X

Either there is no time or people will say, ‘Not my responsibility.’ If not yours, then whose? Somebody suggested I make a book out of them. I never had the time and couldn’t figure out who would want to read it.

Anyway, transformation is the latest industry buzzword bingo word for ITSM pros so let’s start here…


70% of digital transformation initiatives fail.

Says who and why?

The first article I want to share with ITSM pros analyses various industry reports and summarizes them into five key success factors (and provides links to those industry reports – these are recommended links for ANYBODY responsible for transformational change).

The State of the Union…70%

The article finishes with a bit about the status of frameworks… which brings us to the following blogs, a summary of my itSMF CZ 2021 presentation content.

I’m quite proud of this two-part article. It’s a good bit of ranting with, what I think is, a touch of humor. These two pieces go deeper into where the one above finishes and looks at the surveyed state of frameworks.

The Elephant in the Room Part 1

The Elephant in the Room Part 2

These articles describe how poor we are at solving transformation challenges and getting all these frameworks to work, despite the massive amount of certifications and training. This brings me to one of the key reasons we keep failing… we don’t know what value we’re trying to realize!!

This brings us on to…

The Business and VALUE

It’s a hot topic for ITSM pros these days: value. And more specifically, the ‘co-creation’ of value. This piece was my first blog on value and why we fail. It was written back in 2017 but it’s still highly relevant:

This new word that AXELOS sneaked into the definition of a service in ITIL 4co-creation’ is enormously powerful and a game-changer word! It’ll change things forever. Only most people skip over the word and carry on with how they currently use ITIL. It means engaging with the business to understand what value means to them and changing their attitude, behavior, and culture (ABC). The business is part of the problem when it comes to realizing value from IT investments.

This article shows how, in a two-hour workshop, business boardroom mindsets and behaviors can be influenced.

I mentioned above that the business is also part of the problem. A core critical aspect of this co-creation is IT governance — the business taking ownership for value realization and preventing value loss. I was particularly proud of this two-part article on IT governance which extends and carries on from the above blog article on the business role. Without effective IT governance, we can never hope to optimize value.

IT Governance 101: IT Governance for Dummies, Part 1

IT Governance 101: IT Governance for Dummies, Part 2

All of the above challenges have been around for a long time despite the amount of money spent on training and certification, which is probably my most passionate subject…

Training for ITSM Pros

The Model in the whitepaper shared below probably influenced my career in training and developing people.

It’s not our Model. We first introduced the Model into the ‘Toolkit’ section of the ITIL Practitioner Guidance, although the text on how to use it was removed as it took up too much space. So we made it into a whitepaper – The 8-Field Model whitepaper. It’s about how to scope a training initiative, manage the transfer of learning, and put measures in place to measure behavior and impact. TO HELP PREVENT ALL THE FAILURES ABOVE FROM HAPPENING!!

The 8-Field Model

The following article explains why ITSM pros need the 8-Field Model showing some typical approaches to the ‘training’ question.

This article was a follow-up to what is probably my most passionately felt rant and one that caused the most controversy. The hunt for the certificate!!!!

I fear it’s a problem we can NEVER solve because it requires all stakeholders in the end-to-end value chain (IP owners, examination institutes, ATOs, client procurement, and individuals) to agree on the value that should pop out of the value chain. Is it ‘gaining a certificate’ or ‘being able to apply theory in practice to solve recognized problems’? Then engineer backward to ensure that we all focus on enabling and facilitating this. I know this is naïve of me. The commercial model behind certification is what drives the current behaviors. I’m not against certificates. I’ve always stated that ‘while there is value in the certificate, there is more value in applying the knowledge in practice.’ There is too little end-to-end focus in helping organizations realize the value add.

However, even with the 8-Field Model, maximizing the value from a training investment won’t work unless we change our leadership styles, skills, and behaviors. This need is even more critical now that we are in this age of digital disruption and agile transformation.

'Maximizing the value from a training investment won’t work unless we change our #leadership styles, skills, and behaviors' – @GamingPaul Share on X

Leadership for ITSM Pros

CIOs are responsible for ‘fostering the right culture’ was an analysis made by the late and great Robert Stroud about DevOps. There is nothing new in this. We wrote the ABC of ICT book back in 2008! Yet still, managers struggle with culture. They seem to adopt what I call ‘the magic wand approach.’ Hoping that a new culture will emerge by saying ‘sim-sala-bim’ and waving a magic wand (or throwing some collaboration tools at it). This article looks more deeply at culture and, more specifically, the importance of ‘principles’ to glue the SILOed frameworks together for ITSM pros.

Here is another one relating to DevOps, which shows what leadership teams need to do to enable change…

I was also particularly pleased with and proud of this article – it explores ‘passing behavioral defects downstream’ and links behavior to the three ways of DevOps.

Personal Leadership for ITSM Pros

This piece was an experiment that worked out well, got a lot of hits, and led me on to write the one above about behavior flow…

Leadership Starts with You

All this stuff is about flow and getting end-to-end people to work together in value streams. They’re collaborating, which brings us to…


We’re really poor at collaborating. We as ITSM pros often work in SILOes and defend our SILOed frameworks. This issue triggered me to write:

Followed by this one in response to ITSM.tools call for a crowdsourced piece on collaboration

All this talk about collaboration and value led me to recognize these were principles that all the SILOed frameworks were trying to espouse, so I wrote these…


To me personally, this is the next level. It’s too often seen as the fluffy stuff. NOBODY in the Marslander simulation can name the ITIL 4 Guiding Principles, yet often all the hands go up ‘yes, I have an ITIL certificate.’ Agghhhhhhhhhhhh – we teach ITSM pros to pass the exam, NOT what the critical success factors are. To me, this is a critical success factor! Again something I am passionately campaigning for.

At the itSMF UK conference, I was asked, ‘When did you suddenly realize it was all about VALUE?’ The article below sums up my journey through technology, to process, to services, to performance (value), to people (ABC), to values/principles. It took me 40 years. I’m sharing this to accelerate people’s learning and help avoid my mistakes.

This one is from 2012.

The article below examines in more detail the principles from Lean, Agile, DevOps, and ITIL4 and how they link together – helping us realize the value chains we ITSM pros keep talking about. This was a forerunner blog for the Sim-sala-bim blog mentioned above.


All this talk about principles and behavior brings us back around to ABC. Everybody talks about ‘changing mindsets’ and ‘culture change,’ but people forget the behavior bit and how attitude, behavior, and culture work together. The book we wrote back in 2008…

Here’s the latest ABC article I wrote – 10 to 15 years after the first one. Again a poor indictment as to the effect of all of our ‘framework’ related training and certification investments as ITSM pros. ‘Don’t let the ABC Earthquake damage your transformation initiatives’…


ITIL 4 is the latest version of ITIL. I’ve been fortunate enough to have built a large part of my career around ITIL. I’ve made many mistakes ‘implementing’ it as an ITSM pro, which prompted some of the ABC work we did above and is one of the reasons we developed business simulations. Knowing we’ll make the same mistakes again… and again… and again, I wrote this, which explains the ITIL 4 service value system (SVS) model and how to use it.


Then, as a result of banging my head against a brick wall for so long, I wrote two weird ones:

Is it TIME for another hero, again based on the frustrations with certification…

And, nearing the end of my career, I looked back on that time. It triggered me to write this blog about time and how we spend it or waste it as ITSM pros.

And finally…

The Shiny New Thing for ITSM Pros

I realized that, ever since I adopted ITIL as the Shiny New Thing, we as an industry are obsessed with adopting the latest Shiny New Things (Agile, DevOps, ITIL 4), hoping that they will solve all of our problems. They don’t! For me, it is like the film ‘Groundhog day.’ Every day, Bill Murray wakes up and relives the same day, the same experiences. Every year we adopt another new framework, and we relive the same painful experiences and make the same painful mistakes every year. We are not addressing the ABC!

To confirm my point, I announced on Linkedin that I’d be introducing a new framework that would solve EVERYTHING. I had eight times the average amount of views for that post! As I said, we love new frameworks as ITSM pros. Finally, what I launched was something called ‘The Shiny New Thing that Really Helps’ – it was simply a repackaging of the ABC of ICT book! Perhaps people will then want it. I’ll immediately get a load of emails from people asking where they can get ‘The Shiny New Thing that Really Helps foundation certificate. Consultants will be saying that they already have years of expertise with shiny new things, asking where they get the fast track bridging certificate to the Master Certificate in ‘The Shiny New Thing that Really Helps’? And ITSM tool providers will be declaring that their tool is ‘The Shiny New Thing that Really Helps’ compliant.

Here’s my blog on the ‘The Shiny New Thing that Really Helps.’

That was it. So long, folks!!!

If you liked Paul’s ITSM Pro articles, these other ITSM articles might be useful.

Paul Wilkinson Photo
Paul Wilkinson
Director & Owner at GamingWorks

Paul Wilkinson has been involved in the IT industry for more than 25 years and has a broad background in IT operations, IT management, and product innovation and development. He was project team lead in the original BITE (Business & IT Excellence) process modeling of ITIL, an ITIL V2 author, and member of the ITIL V3 advisory group.

He is co-owner of GamingWorks and co-developer of a range of business simulations focusing on IT service management, project management, business process management, business and IT alignment, alliance management and co-author and developer of the ABC of ICT products and publications.

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