Crystallization. Sometimes, after staring for years at a problem, clarity just happens.
Today, in this LinkedIn debate, the following occurred to me:
In ITIL, services are supported by processes.
In Kanban, services are supported by teams of people with WIP limits.
Underneath the actual delivered IT service or product outcome, the mental models of ITIL and Kanban are very different.
- In Kanban the major unit of management is a team of people with various skills who have limited time and attention, therefore requiring limited WIP.
- In ITIL (and other major frameworks such as COBIT and CMMI), the major unit of management is the process.
The two worldviews can be depicted thus:
ITIL has always distanced itself from questions of implementation and organizational structure. In so doing, it distances itself from people and the actual execution of work. But (I argue) in the absence of specific guidance to the contrary, the default implementation model for the major frameworks becomes
One process = one queue
In general, ITIL assumes that the processes have infinite capacity, nor is there concern for transactional overhead. Many of us have been documenting and discussing the results for a number of years now: overburden, gridlock, unmanaged demand, and poor IT performance.
As we move forward with the IT4IT work, the direction I am increasingly leaning towards is that
we must understand execution
-- and --
execution starts with the
fundamental operating principles
at the team level.
Now, especially as we scale up delivery, process becomes important. This is reflected in Agile concepts such as cadence and synchronization points. I am not quite ready to throw out Change and Incident Management. The shared service model also will never go completely away.
But without an execution model that works at the resource-constrained team level, in the face of dynamic, variable, and information-centric demand, IT will continue to deliver sub-optimal results.
In conclusion, the Agile Manifesto states:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Perhaps I am merely restating that.