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The Adaptive Enterprise

Apr 28, 2004

ITSM Watch Staff

By Cinda Daly and Ken Wendle

Daly. Any advice on where to start?
Wendle. Check your mindset. I spoke very recently about this with a high level IT manager who said that one of the biggest challenges he runs into is going off on tangents: "Let's do Six Sigma, or "Let's do ITIL." They often confuse the end with the means. What comes out of that mindset is doing it for the sake of doing it, rather than understanding what is to be facilitated by it. It's not about doing ITIL; it's about what you're going to get out of the processes and practices that matters.

IT always seems to be reactive. A group of CIOs that I met with recently reflected that everyone wants to be compliant with standards and regulations, but they don't want to scurry around just to create a bunch of reports. They want to get ahead of the curve so that when the next thing comes along-and it will come along-they will be able to absorb it as just a matter of course. Adapt, not react.

ITIL best practices are put in place to enable this goal, to enable the adaptive enterprise. Architect the organization so that change-adaptability-is part of the structure.

Daly. What technology innovations are required to support the adaptive enterprise?
Wendle. That question summons my butterfly analogy. One wing of the butterfly is the infrastructure, the guts of IT that actually produce the IT services being consumed by the business and the customers of the business. The other wing is the set of processes and procedures used to manage those IT services to the level required by the business and it's customers. This wing is where ITIL-defined processes reside. The butterfly body supports the translation process from the technology view to the business view. If you remove one of these parts, the butterfly won't fly.

The technology innovation that will make the adaptive enterprise fly is a tight alignment between the business demands and the IT infrastructure so that adjustments are almost instantaneous, made possible in part by tightly integrated management software linking these three parts together. HP is doing that now, for example, in our Utility Data Center, a "pre-wired," almost self-managing dynamic data center. It's pretty impressive!

Daly. What is the largest barrier that companies must overcome to achieve the adaptive enterprise?
Wendle. The six inches between the ears. And a lot of legacy. The IT professionals of the future will be business people first, technology people second. To this point, an associate sent me an e-mail today from a section manager at a large aerospace company in the Midwest. She has revamped how she ranks her technical staff. The traditional technical staff guru who can't get along with other members of the team or lead a project is no longer highly ranked on the technical merits alone. Her ranking criteria today is equally split among three areas: 1) leadership, 2) technical knowledge, including specific technical expertise, Six Sigma, and project management abilities, and 3) teaming and communication.

Daly. Offer a practical suggestion on how to overcome the barriers.
Wendle. In a nutshell: education. A lot of mindsets have to change. Share the vision. Teach the common goals. Speak the common language. And stay the course. It really does take something that many IT organizations often lack: discipline.

For example, if you try to circumvent the discipline of change management, then you may just get fired. If you don't share your database knowledge with the team because you believe that knowledge is your "intellectual capital" or "job security," then chances are you'll be replaced with someone who will share.

Daly. How do you see the future of technical support?
Wendle. Let me preface my answer with this: There will always be a need for good, qualified, technical support professionals. Years ago I made a statement that: "The best customer service is the call you don't take." In other words, you've delivered the service so well there were no issues to call about. Or the problem or issue was solved before the customer even noticed that there was a problem. The example I gave about one of our managed service facilities is an example. On February 4, 2003, they had their first zero incident day. They delivered the IT services so well that there was no need for someone to call in for help. There were no service-impacting, infrastructure incidents causing someone's pager to go off. None. To some, this may sound boring. But, as I've often pointed out, when it comes to successful IT service management, boring is exciting.

Daly. What's next after ITIL-or is ITIL it?
Wendle. This may sound heretical, but it's never been about ITIL. ITIL is, was, and always will be a means to an end. HP took it and created the ITSM Reference Model. Microsoft used it to form MOF. Again, it's a means to an end. But make no mistake-ITIL is a great start, and it keeps getting better. We're currently in version 2; new books are being added, and the existing books will be updated.

The ITIL pocket guide says, "IT Services are there to support the business in it's effective and efficient operation." No other industry that has had to face what the IT industry is facing has had such a bountiful source of information. What a head start!

Ken Wendle continues to drive service management excellence for Hewlett-Packard, the ITIL best practices board, and the industry as a whole. He will share his deep insight in his breakout session, "American ITIL: The Challenge and Success of IT Service Management," and in the HP product showcase, "On the Road to the Adaptive Enterprise," at HDI 2004.

The Daly Interview™ is a publication of Focus Events, Inc. This interview was written exclusively for ThinkService, Inc. by HDI 2004 Program Chair, Cinda Daly, CindaLDaly@cs.com. to handle help desk, operations, network, and performance management. And, like most companies, HP found that this approach provided limited value and did not enable IT to become the true business partner that was required to be successful today. As a result, HP pushed the boundaries of service management, and, with the need in recent years to cut costs, increase the business value, and integrate within the "new HP," the efforts continue to pay off.

Daly. How do you characterize a "true" business partnership between IT and the business as a whole?
Wendle. I've always thought it was a bit peculiar that there has been so much discussion about "business/IT alignment" or "business/IT partnership." After all, we don't talk about "business/marketing alignment" or "business/accounting partnership." Isn't IT just as much a part of an organization as those divisions? So, I would characterize it as a true partnership when IT is not thought of as something different, but as something that has become as much a part of the mindset as every other aspect of the business. And, this relationship includes not only what the business requires of IT, but also what IT can provide in terms of enhancing a business's performance in the market-new services, capabilities, etc.

Daly. You have "pushed the boundaries of service management at HP." Just what boundaries were pushed, and how did you accomplish that?
Wendle. Let me first point out something fairly obvious: HP has just undergone the largest technology merger in business history, which was also one of the largest business mergers ever. Because HP is a technology company, the technology choices that have been made have been equally important to any other business choices that have been made. >From an IT perspective, we literally have merged four distinct IT organizations into one. While this process isn't 100% complete, speaking from an employee perspective and from a customer perspective, my perception is that I'm dealing with one company.

Daly. How did ITIL best practices influence this successful merger?
Wendle. HP used ITIL as the foundation for the HP ITSM Reference model, the model upon which our own IT organization is based. The ITIL processes and ITSM Reference model continue to play a large role in this consolidation. It is also key to our rapidly growing managed services business. One HP facility has embraced ITSM to such a level that it has helped foster the idea of "zero defect" IT service delivery.

Daly. Let's come back to the zero defects example in a moment. You often talk about the adaptive enterprise in the same breath as IT Service Management? What is the adaptive enterprise?
Wendle. HP defines an adaptive enterprise as "the ultimate state of fitness: business and IT synchronized to capitalize on change." That works for me.

Daly. What dynamics have driven the requirement that IT organizations become adaptive enterprises?
Wendle. Change! Change! Change! If it's not the market, it's the government; if it's not the government, it's the competition; if it's not the competition, it's the geo-political environment. Changes are coming from all sides. Our CEO, Carly Fiorina, often quotes Charles Darwin who said, in essence, that it's not the strong or even the most intelligent that will ultimately survive, it's the most adaptive. Adapt or die. It's that simple-and that difficult.

Daly. How does the adaptive enterprise incorporate ITIL best practices?
Wendle. ITIL is a means to an end, not the end itself. The "end" is effective and efficient IT services management. Our late CIO, Bob Napier, observed that every business decision triggers an IT response. For an organization to become adaptive, it must be able to respond quickly to those business decisions, as well as to all the other changes mentioned before.

Daly. How do you define effective/efficient?
Wendle. The ability to quickly absorb changes and quickly adapt to business needs without impacting service quality and availability, and do it in a cost sensitive manner Even further, it is also the ability to be so tightly synchronized with the business that the IT organization can actually facilitate business success. In my mind, the highest maturity level of IT service management is the enablement of the adaptive IT enterprise.

Daly. You often cite, "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are very different." Bridge the theory and practice with the adaptive enterprise?
Wendle. Often people hear about ITSM and ITIL and immediately think, "It sounds good, but it's all theory." I'm among the first to admit that the first version of ITIL was heavier on theory and lighter on practice than the second version. If it was 80 theory/20 practice then, it's more 20/80 today thanks to the feedback of the early adopters, HP included.

Similarly, the concept of zero-defect IT service delivery is often dismissed as theory. Consider the automobile industry 15-20 years ago. Although W. Edward Deming's ideas for manufacturing also sounded like theory, today the practice of zero defect manufacturing is almost clichi. The enabling concept then was process-repeatable, scaleable, measurable, improvable process. Those are the same concepts that IT organizations need to embrace today. It's not theory. It is practical, and it is possible.