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Strategic Incident Management

What truly lies at the heart of incident management? And is it possible to still be strategic once an incident has occurred? In a post for All Things ITSM, Mark Smalley explores incident management and how it fits into the big picture.

Strategy All the Time

Life in general has a tendency to throw a curve ball every now and then. Just when you think you are sliding safely into home plate, the umpire calls you out, and you and your team are left to start the process over. The world of business is no different. In spite of your best strategic planning, things are just going to happen, but the good news is there are some ways that unexpected elements can be managed.

“Crisis” often triggers terror in the minds’ of people because they immediately think of chaos. Smally associates chaos with the five domains of David Snowden’s Cynefin framework. This framework “provides a typology of contexts that guides what sort of explanations or solutions might apply. It draws on research into complex adaptive systems theory, cognitive science, anthropology, and narrative patterns, as well as evolutionary psychology, to describe problems, situations, and systems.” In other words, when things go wrong, Cynefin could be the closest thing to a universal Band-Aid. The five domains of this framework include:

  1. Obvious
  2. Complicated
  3. Complex
  4. Chaotic
  5. Disorder

Snowden and Mary Boone collectively wrote an article that explored the options on dealing with these five domains. For example, in chaos the leader’s primary focus should be on uncovering patterns and attempting to stop the chaos from permeating further. Additionally, the pair suggests using this chaos as an opportunity to innovate.

Clayton Christensen believes that companies focus far too much on customers’ current desires and should instead be innovative and anticipate future wants. This type of anticipation he has coined as “disruptive innovation.” An innovator’s dilemma is the idea that the organization will reject their proposal.

Overall, the Cynefin framework and Christensen’s theories help to better react under pressure and handle chaos that may ensue. In this way, some strategy can be applied even when traditional strategy failed to account for a sudden incident. You can view the original post with a full rundown of Cynefin here: http://allthingsitsm.com/strategic-incident-management/

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