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OMAN: Critical success factors for ‘Digital transformation’: Part 3

Tadafur organized a series of business simulation game workshops to follow on from their highly successful executive training program ‘e-Government & Digital  Transformation’.


The third simulation was ‘Apollo 13 – An ITSM case experience’.

Why this simulation? One of the top issues in a recent global CIO survey is ‘Business Continuity’. Digital transformation signals the growing importance of IT and an increasing dependence upon it. However, currently $Billions are lost every year due to downtime, which represents a significant business risk. ITSM is no longer an operational issue, it has become a strategic capability. Organizations have invested heavily in ITIL certification and are failing to achieve the ‘hoped’ for, yet necessary value from the investment. How can we ensure that ITSM theory such as ITIL can be translated into practice?

Apollo 13 – an ITSM case experience’ is a dynamic, classroom based business simulation. During this highly interactive workshop participants will see, feel and experience the benefits of applying ITSM best practices  on organizational performance: ‘cost of ownership’ , ‘effectiveness and throughput of processes’, ‘availability and continuity’ and ‘customer satisfaction’. Participants will enact the roles of the Mission control team of Apollo 13. They will have to use their ITSM theory to design, implement, evaluate and improve their own processes.

What happened?
Following the design phase, acting as Mission Director in the simulation I asked the team – ‘Go or No-Go’? Meaning – ‘Are we all ready to launch’? (A live service) – ‘Do we know our roles, the process and the agreed ways of working’, everybody confirmed ‘GO’! I then asked ‘Who really thinks that this is going to go badly wrong’? Suddenly the hands went up ‘We don’t really know how to perform the roles’, ‘we haven’t agreed what to do when there is too much work’…. Yet they had all said what they ‘thought’ the business wanted to hear!! Rather than protecting the business from Risk. Honest, open feedback is something that managers need to stimulate if we want our transformation initiatives to succeed.

This is a top scoring ‘Attitude, Behavior, Culture’ card in global workshops with more than 5000 organizations.

The team had also designed their process without engaging with the business or users (Astronauts), as such they had no real way of knowing what was critical and when it was critical in order to prioritize their workload.

The Apollo 13 rocket blasted off. Incidents and events entered the simulation. There was chaos, procedures were not being followed, the team did not know the goals or the agreements with the business, they did not know where incidents were, high priority incidents were lost or forgotten, incorrect and inaccurate information was given to the users and to the mission director. It felt stressful, demotivating and IT had lost the trust from the business. ITSM as a critical capability to underpin digital transformation!?

Critical Success Factors

We then explored some Critical success factors for ITSM. We explored how transformation managers needed to apply the 5 P’s (People, Process, Product, Partner capabilities aimed at realizing Performance) ensuring a consistency in Service Design. The team applied a pragmatic approach to CSI (Continual Service Improvement) and prioritized improvements together as an end-to-end team. Team members became more engaged and started taking ownership for improving their own work, they started listening to each other and asking questions. The team actively engaged with the business to gain more insight into priorities.

The second game round was successful, all incidents were solved, the astronauts were happy, the Mission Director was happy, the team felt less stress and felt in control. More importantly the business goals were realized!

The final question was ‘What are you now going to take away and do differently in YOUR organization’?
Each person gave an answer:

  • Ensure a clear understanding of the goals and have the right information to make informed decisions. Do not make assumptions.
  • Get a clear picture of the strategic goals and ensure ITSM processes are aligned to realizing these goals in terms of Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks
  • Use the right tools – build the tools together ensuring information is accurate, complete and there is ownership for keeping it up to date (e.g Incident tracking tool, Known error database).
  • Consider customer NEEDS. Engage with the customers and users to understand their needs.
  • ‘Brainstorm’ CSI improvements together, end-to-end (capture these and prioritize them).
  • Know the objectives and goals, at an organizational level and at a team level. How can we measure success.
  • Define, agree and commit to roles, responsibilities and authority together. Be pro-active and take ownership of your role.
  • Communicate better. Communicate goals, agreements, ask people what they need. Learn to listen better ‘active listening’, summarize and confirm understanding and agreement.
  • Have clear agreements with business, between teams, with suppliers.
  • Ownership for your role and confront others on their roles and responsibilities – avoid ‘compensation behavior’ (doing someone else’s job, who then stop doing what THEY should be doing, giving YOU more work to do, meaning you have less time to do YOUR work).

The key question now is ‘who owns the list and who will ensure that this is transferred back into daily work’?

Helping individuals and teams transfer the learning into the working environment is a critical skill managers need to develop, where needed coaching and empowering people to successfully adopt and apply new behavior.

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