IT Governance

5 ITSM Lessons from a Marathon

Sports are full of good metaphors for life, even the trivial non-sports like running in straight lines for ridiculous lengths of time. ITSM practitioner Claire Agutter recently ran her first marathon, and she realized there are parallels between that and service management. In a post for All Things ITSM, she shares five lessons learned from preparing for the marathon:

  1. Goals drive changes in behavior.
  2. Goals need to be translated into day-to-day activities.
  3. People might not be getting in your way on purpose.
  4. Don’t ignore the kinks.
  5. Change takes longer than you think.

Chasing Improvement

The benefit of a specific goal over a vague goal is that you can work your way backward toward creating a plan for a specific goal. In Agutter’s case, the goal was to run a marathon. In ITSM, it might be a change initiative to modernize a legacy system. In either case, with a deadline and a clear (and realistic) goal, behaviors start to change. The feasibility of success becomes exciting, and processes change to accommodate hitting this goal.

Speaking of which, progress toward goals must be made in increments. Agutter says changing ITSM habits takes on average 66 days, so there needs to be a real commitment. Mini-goals along the way can facilitate the achievement of the big goal. There could be resistance at any rate, but not necessarily for malicious reasons. Agutter got used to having to run past big groups of people hogging the pathway during her training. They did not intend to slow her down; they just did not know she was coming. Likewise, people might impede ITSM initiatives just because nobody ever communicated the initiative and its value to them. This can be swiftly rectified.

About not ignoring the kinks in progress, Agutter shares this:

“Train through the pain”.  This is one of the worst ideas I came across as I prepared for my marathon. Every scrape, niggle or chafe was a warning sign that I needed to change something.  As I pushed my pace and my training distances increased, I needed to treat those niggles before they turned into something more serious.

If you spot your ITSM project is drifting, don’t ignore it.  Find the problem and address it before it grows.  I suppose we could call it shift left thinking for runners.

All of these things are important because, yes, sustained change truly does not happen overnight.

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