If you have a chance to participate in
HPs ITIL simulation, take it. If you do not see one in your near
future, find a reason to schedule one. It’s great fun. A complete
and total bloodbath at first, of course, but still great fun.
At first glance the whole idea seems
pretty goofy. You and a group of your closest work acquaintances
organize yourselves into a system support team for a Formula 1 racing
team. You try to keep the IT systems running over a 25 minute race,
passing information and solving problems as quickly as possible.
When a system goes down the affected cars lose speed; the slower your
cars go the less money your team earns at the end of the race. A
ticking counter shows you just how much money you will earn if the
race were to end at that moment. Your race team also scores points;
if you win the most points over five races you claim the championship
(and the adulation of children everywhere).
The first race is pretty much a blood
bath. People assume their familiar roles, doing what they always do.
Your organizations failings stand out in sharp relief, especially
every little turf battle or bit of chaotic interaction. Oh, and
concepts like priority, urgency, impact, and even just basic
information sharing go straight out the window. No one has any idea
what’s going on, and it’s all good fun.
After that you get to step back and
assess how you did. It starts out pretty ugly, naturally; no one
really understood what we were trying to accomplish. Everyone held
onto information they had, not out of any negative designs but simply
because it never occurred to them others would care. Meanwhile we
all complained about the problem solving team, who never seemed to
get anything done. Mind you, I was ON the problem solving team and I
agreed with the assessment. Of course, I also knew half the time we
couldn’t figure out what to work on, let alone if there were any
problems for us to address.
Over the next few races they introduce
ITIL concepts. If you do not know ITIL, it’s a good chance to get an
overview. If you do know ITIL, it’s a fun recap of stuff you already
know, with a chance to show people how these things work without
having to change your entire organization. By the end of the
simulation you should have a humming, information passing machine
churning out solutions at a rapid rate.
I suspect it really shocks folks to
discover how much people infrastructure it takes to support just a
few problem solvers. We tend to think of all IT people as problem
solvers, each with our own areas of expertise and skill. The
reality is, though, that a mass of problem solvers attacking things
independantly cannot generate anywhere near the output of a small
group supported by a people and process architecture prioritizing
their activities, feeding them the right information, and keeping
everyone else off their backs while they do their jobs.
The converse is also true. It takes
relatively few problem solvers, technical folks, and architects to
support even a complex organization plagued by real-time faults if
you communicate clearly, have adequate status tracking, and some
means of deciding when you need help. That first part, though, takes
a lot out of most people.
Anyway. Take the ITIL Simulation. If
nothing else, it will show you exactly how people think…always a
good thing to know as you prepare for the next wave of business