The ITIL 4 Journey – One Year In

Blog post – The ITIL 4 Journey – One Year In

Axelos was nice enough to ask me to write an ITIL 4 blog post a little while ago on the Managing Professional certificate. I was happy to do it; you can read a little more about what we came up with at

It’s been a couple of months since I worked with them on this post, and I’ve had a chance to reflect a bit on what we’ve learned in this first year of ITIL 4, and as part of this ongoing transition. A few lessons seem to keep coming up again and again, and I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Value Stream Mapping is a game changer for IT organizational practices. While many people and organizations have leveraged LEAN practices for years, there is unique value to using it in the context of IT service delivery. Most compellingly, it gets IT organizations thinking cross-functionally and, even more importantly, across many different ITIL practice areas. I have been a long term proponent of “working backwards” from the customer and desired outcomes to how and what we do to help facilitate service value creation. Most of my customers struggle with cross-functional alignment and, when they have been able to operate successfully in a cross-functional model, do so in the context of a process or two, like incident management or change management. ITIL 4 emphasizes and demonstrates that many practices contribute to each and every service value chain, and that organizations must look at how (and how much) practice support they require to deliver the desired business outcomes.
  2. This focus on value is reinforced by the emphasis on Customer Journeys as part of the Driving Stakeholder Value guidance. Very few people in an enterprise actually understand the entire journey that a customer takes to co-creating value, and in most instances confuse success at a particular touchpoint with success in facilitating an excellent customer experience. So much of IT culture has traditionally been reactive (‘no news is good news”) that we often accept a lack of active complaints as a substitute for real validation of an excellent customer experience. Modern social media culture has taught us the compelling value of engagement with stakeholders through the entire journey, and that customer feedback is the shortest path to compelling improvements.
  3. The emphasis on high-velocity IT is critical, but only if it is velocity to value, not just velocity to more “stuff.” IT organizations continue at times to confuse features with benefits, and speed to market with use and value conversion. If organizations adopt Agile practices such as value-based prioritization of backlogs and teams focusing on delivering the highest value solutions first, all the time, they will avoid this challenge. However, sometimes organizations find themselves trapped by the desire for “low-hanging fruit;’ many times the fruit may be low-hanging, but low value too. Also critical is that the customer is driving the prioritization, and is accountable for optimizing the value delivery for the business.

There are countless new areas of guidance in ITIL 4 that will help you during your digital transformation journey. If you haven’t explored some of the new ITIL Specialist and ITIL Strategist programs, I encourage you to take a look. If you haven’t read the new ITIL books, they go far beyond traditional ITIL practice guidance to help you improve customer value and optimizing organizational resources. Take a look and reach out to us if we can help you on your journey.