People have their own perspectives and preferences, but when it comes to continual improvement the order of improvement matters. This Mindful Monday post is derived from a recent ITSM Academy Webinar.

In response to Lisa Schwartz, I made a comment in this webinar (at around 48:25) about USM being a foundation of an enterprise service management ‘building’. This got me thinking (or re-thinking) about this perspective and so here’s the post I said I’d write…

Whatever perspective helps you understand USM’s position as a principle-based method for establishing a service management system — relative to a practice framework that provides specific guidance and well documented instructions — is fine with me.

But whatever your perspective or preference, the order of improvement matters.

USM as a foundation / fundament

Fundamentthe foundation or basis of something

Foundationan underlying basis or principle

Jan van Bon actually uses the term ‘fundament’ when discussing this perspective, and as you learn about the USM method it’s easy to understand why. USM is a method based on principles.

Principle a fundamental, generally applicable rule or belief, which serves as a guideline for the behavior of a person or system

Practices are based on local choices and can be influenced by culture, technology, or a manager’s opinion. As conditions change, different practices can emerge. Principles are valid over longer periods of time. In fact, practices can be generated by principles.

Service management methoda fixed, well-thought-out course of action, based on principles, for the management of services

So, you use the USM method as a stable fundament or foundation for establishing your service management system, and practices for tailoring localized needs —- the ‘floors’ of your building.

What’s often missed by people who are just being exposed to USM is that the method establishes a universal definition of a service through the customer-provider interaction model as well; this is a critical building block of the method.

The USM method takes the order of improvement into account by establishing a consistent and universal definition of a service, without which your service management system has no clearly defined scope or purpose.

Other perspectives

Because I was familiar with APQC’s Process Classification Framework (PCF) I initially had a perception and preference when viewing USM.

After seeing APQC’s Process Classification Framework (PCF), I noticed that ‘process’ was right in the middle — or the heart — of the hierarchy. After learning about USM’s 10 process design criteria and understanding USM’s view of process versus practice this seemed to make perfect sense[i].

This put process right in the middle — or at the ‘heart’ of the PCF. But this view doesn’t incorporate a method, and it doesn’t account for service definition. So, while initially useful for me it is not a perspective I’ll continue to use for that reason and others.

Fundament or foundation seems a more appropriate perspective.

I went crazy with other perspectives too…

I looked at Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, but the order conflicted with USM’s order, and the Golden Circle is really focused on establishing a brand. So, while I liked ‘start with why’ it only confused the matter after that. Not a good way to view the entire USM method.

Of course, I then went crazy looking at inverted org charts… ’top-down’ became ‘bottom-up’ and eventually I offered up a radical enterprise view and started the confusion all over again. Of course, this is just a perspective —upside-down org charts and radical enterprises illustrate a purely people (WHO) view.

USM and the order of improvement

There’s a reason USM is a re-think. It tells us what we should already know:

  • You need to define service(s) first
  • You need to establish a service management system
  • Process comes before people and tools

The USM customer-provider interaction model gives us a simple, universal approach to defining any service as a key building block:

USM Customer-Provider Interaction Model

By creating a non-redundant process model with 5 processes — that establish 8 workflows that encompass all customer interaction patterns for a service provider — the USM is a repeatable, sustainable method for continual service improvement for the entire enterprise.

A singular normalized management system as an acceptable link is the core concept of the Unified Service Management method, and it is based on the concept of an integral and integrated process architecture.

The process model and standardized workflows are used by any organizational topology, leveraging any combination of practice frameworks for all service providers / service teams.

USM leverages systems thinking — an integral and integrated management approach which restores and optimizes the control over each service team contribution to the whole system.

The USM method considers that the order of improvement matters, and more importantly establishes unified routines for every service team. This enables the enterprise to get their ducks in a row, and sustain them (and keep them in a row) as things change.

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[i] (The other reason was that I was writing about my Lessons Learned on a Savage journey to Service Management and was seriously considering the title, ‘A Savage Journey to the Heart of Service Management’ but thought better of it.)

Published by myservicemonitor

I am an independent service management consultant with two decades of experience helping customers.

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