I've written before about what teams get out of The Phoenix Project simulations and how they can learn the principles of DevOps in an experiential way. However, that was always focussed on DevOps.
Now, ITIL4 is a big change in the ITIL world. ITIL didn't fundamentally change from V2 to 2011 and while the world skipped off to embrace agile and lean thinking and play with the cool kids of DevOps, traditional Service Management and IT Operations seemed to continue to do things the same old way. ITIL4 is now kicking stones around the outside of the group of cool kids and may even join in soon. It too has embraced lean thinking, using Service Value Chains, iterative improvements, and the whole Guiding Principles approach, introduced with ITIL Practitioner. All things that many good consultants and experienced service management practitioners were doing as they adopted and adapted ITIL, but it wasn't as clear in the framework before.
The MarsLander simulation from GamingWorks has been redeveloped to allow teams to experiment and experience how ITSM and IT Operations teams can operate in a more lean and agile method. This brings obvious benefits in organisations where development or project teams are more agile and the Operations teams continue to be more traditional. They can all start to think the same way. It also allows those IT teams that don't need to change because of outside influences, but just want to change so they are operating better, to learn about and try different approaches. Then there are those teams who have gone through ITIL4 Foundation training and know the theory. MarsLander allows them to put it into practice and see how to use that knowledge.
Aprill Allen - aka Knowledge Bird - and I are currently working with a client, as part of the Good Guidance collaborative team, to help them adopt a new and improved way of working. As a Managed Service Provider, they have been operating well for a number of years, always reviewing how they can improve and deliver greater value to their customers, but now it has been decided that a fundamental shift in thinking and working is required. As part of their learning experience, I ran a MarsLander simulation for a number of their team, including CEO, CDO, Service Delivery Manager, HR Manager and a number of technical people including Service Desk. I'm not going to go through their findings and learnings with you here, as that would take the fun out of you experiencing the simulation, but there were some key outputs which resonated with them, and every other team who has run the MarsLander or Phoenix Project simulations:
An earlier blog of mine pointed out similarities between different ways of working and thinking, with regards to learning, so the gods must be trying to tell us something.
What do you need to do to make change happen?
There's a lot of change going on in the way that organisations work. For many years we have, generally, carried on in the same manner, working in the same way. Whether this is in IT, HR, Finance, Logistics, Retail, or any other part of the organisation, we've pretty much done things the same way for several years. There have, of course, been small changes in the way things have been done, but, at least within the IT world, we seem to be rolling out new ways of thinking and working at a rather busy rate.
In the last few years we have seen a formalisation of SIAM (Service Integration and Management), VeriSM, ITIL4, COBIT 2019, Lean IT, DevOps, Agile ITSM, Cynefin, etc and along with those approaches, we have introduced teams to ways of thinking and working that have been used elsewhere for a while, like visualisation of work, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping, Theory of Constraints, servant leadership, constant organisational change management, agile management.....a growing list.
Don't get me wrong, this is all very good stuff and is needed in many organisations. Some are further down the path of change than others, but that has always been the case and always will be.
All these "new" (to some) approaches can be overwhelming. The other weekend I felt like I was back in the technical world, which I left because it was all changing too quickly for my little brain to cope, with what felt like a barrage of new approaches to thinking and working. However, when you take a step back and think about it over a nice cup of tea, it's not too bad.
Many of the approaches I have mentioned are fundamentally saying the same things. In no particular order and in a very simplified view:
There's nothing in that list that we shouldn't really be doing in our everyday life, is there?
If there is one key point from everything that is going on, it's that last point: Allow people to have time to try things and learn. In DevOps speak, this is part of the Third Way. Rob England & Dr Cherry Vu also talk about this in their book "The agile Manager"; Em Campbell-Pretty talks about it in her book "Tribal Unity"; Karen Ferris discusses it in her book "Game On! Change is Constant" and I'm sure in countless other places.
Knowledge Bird recently published the inaugural Knowledge Management Career Survey and one part of the results jumped out at me.
This highlights what we are all trying to do, or should be. Ways of working are telling us to create environments where people and teams can experiment, try things and learn from it. We are saying that people need to have time to learn, while at work. This goes beyond only learning something new when sent on a 3 day training course, or having to learn at home.
This survey points out that among many other things, one of the key things people want to create improved knowledge for, is to "extend capabilities within their role". The teams are telling us all that they want to learn more. The approaches to new ways of working are telling us that we need to create cultures where people can experiment and learn.
What are you doing to make this happen in your workplace?
Over the last 12 months, I have been lucky enough to be able to deliver business simulations to organisations who are either going through change, or who are looking at different ways of working.
These simulations have been created by GamingWorks and go by the names of The Phoenix Project and MarsLander.
The Phoenix Project simulation focusses on helping teams to explore and learn about DevOps and Agile ways of working. MarsLander helps Service Management teams explore how a more agile approach can help them deliver faster, with more value and use the ITIL4 approach in their everyday working. However, with the latest update to ITIL taking onboard the learnings of DevOps, Agile and Lean and applying them to ITSM, these two simulations help attendees explore, experiment and learn these similar concepts but in different ways.
The teams who have taken part in The Phoenix Project have come away from the day, and it is a full-on day, telling me and their colleagues that they understand the need to collaborate better, that the “business” representatives (as opposed to the IT team members) “get” what they need to do to work better with IT, that “business” and IT people understand why they need to communicate better, that they all understand the benefits of limiting their work in progress.
The teams who have participated in MarsLander, tell me and their colleagues that they understand the need to collaborate better, they understand why they need to communicate better within teams and with their customers (internal or external) and suppliers / partners, that they all understand the benefits of visualising their work and limiting their work in progress.
Senior participants - CIOs and IT Managers - tell me that they want to promote greater visualisation or work and encourage greater preparation, not just planning, within their teams.
Those at the pointy-end of delivering IT services tell me that they want to get their management teams on the simulations so that they understand the need for improved ways of working.
Non-IT attendees go away with a greater respect for their IT colleagues and talk to me about running the simulations within their teams - non-IT teams.
All team members also come away from the simulations as closer teams. Some were brand new teams only meeting for the first time on the day, but after an hour or two, you wouldn’t have known that.
So if you are looking to improve collaboration between or within teams, looking to explore different ways of working, or to understand how the DevOps principles or ITIL4 approach can help your teams deliver better services, get in touch. I may have just the simulation for you.