Mindful Monday: More re-thinking about ESM

Improvement often requires taking a new perspective, but this kind of re-thinking can result in dramatic simplification that benefits the entire enterprise; see the webinar replay, ESM and the Big Re-Think.

…Simplifying internal processes and structures will have positive impacts on the entire value creation capability of a company.


A frustrating part of continual improvement can be the different perspectives that people bring to the conversation. But these perspectives can help us think differently about complex problems; in fact, it is sometimes complexity itself that drives creativity and improvement.

A dose of complexity can disrupt overconfidence cycles and spur rethinking cycles. It gives us more humility about our knowledge and more doubts about our opinions, and it can make us curious enough to discover information we were lacking.

–       Grant, Adam. Think Again (p. 165). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

But complexity can also be an impediment to creating and delivering value, partly due to the confusion it creates.

For example, one day we have a clean looking org chart, and suddenly someone offers up an inverted org chart…’top-down’ becomes ‘bottom-up’! Suddenly our world is upside down! Or someone else offers up a radical enterprise view and starts the confusion all over again. Of course, these are just perspectives — and upside-down org charts and radical enterprises illustrate a purely people (WHO) view.

Or, someone else (perhaps from marketing?) may bring the Golden Circle into a discussion. This puts WHY at the start, HOW next and WHAT is last! USM says a different order! Of course, service definition using USM’s customer-supplier interaction model can be guided by—and help guide— answers to the question, WHY?

But the Golden Circle’s perspective may be more about governance; vision/mission (i.e., what is our purpose?) and is not really focused on a management system. Again, very important but a different context!

So, when you think about enterprise service management and the complexity of multiple practice frameworks, shifting organizational structures and rapidly changing supplier relationships get crazy…

Think Again...

simplicity in service management is possible!

My goal is to help customers with the endless, uphill roll that is continual improvement.

Mindful Monday: The Importance of Re-Thinking

As the amount of knowledge and the pace of change overwhelms us, perhaps the most important lesson to learn is the ability to rethink and unlearn. Nowhere is this truer than in the continual improvement space.

The reality is that service management in today’s world of digital disruption is made ever more complicated as existing and emerging practice frameworks evolve. In fact, as service management expands to the entire enterprise now might be a very good time to think (or re-think) about simplifying your service management system.

While preparing for ESM and the Big Re-Think: sustainable ESM with the USM Method this Thursday, September 15th at 11AM EST

[NOTE: I’ve also got a couple coming up over at the itSMF USA on Thursday, September 22nd at 1PM EST and a follow up in October (tbd).]

…I stumbled upon Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. The truth is, I had set the topic for the webinar before I found the book but having read it over the weekend, I highly recommend it!

“In 2011, you consumed about five times as much information per day as you would have just a quarter century earlier. As of 1950, it took about fifty years for knowledge in medicine to double. By 1980, medical knowledge was doubling every seven years, and by 2010, it was doubling in half that time. The accelerating pace of change means that we need to question our beliefs more readily than ever before.”

–       Grant, Adam. Think Again (p. 17). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

One of the biggest reasons I’ve liked the continual improvement space, and most of the practitioners I’ve met along the way, is the eagerness with which these professionals pursue new ideas. So, leave your lizard brains at home and come join us with an open mind.

“when our core beliefs are challenged, it can trigger the amygdala, the primitive “lizard brain” that breezes right past cool rationality and activates a hot fight-or-flight response.”

Grant, Adam. Think Again (p. 60). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

For those of you who are still rolling that improvement ball uphill…

Keep Calm and Carry On!

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My goal is to help customers with the endless, uphill roll that is continual improvement.

Mindful Monday: Is the Enterprise ready to strike back?

While simplifying things is not so simple, it remains an important key to a great customer experience. The enterprise needs to simplify services, as well as how they are managed.

The digital disruption we find ourselves in today has resulted in an almost unlimited number of choices, which can drive the number of customer touch points through the roof. This can have a negative impact on the customer experience.

A successful customer outcome/experience is one that makes the customer’s life simpler and easier— as well as more successful. The basic improvement techniques of eliminating moments of truth (MOT), process break points (BP) and business rules (BR) apply today more than ever.

These elements — MOTs, BPs and BRs — are often MUDA from the customer’s point of view. This is why we want to streamline the customer journey, right?

The desire to accelerate flow from concept to product through a CI/CD pipeline may also be important to customers. They all want desired new features as quickly as possible, right?

But be careful about our desire to accelerate flow and spew out hundreds of new features that may not necessarily be what the majority of your customers want. Often their basic desires are much simpler, and in fact our frantic desire to find ‘Muda’ inside CI/CD pipelines can lead us back to inside-out thinking.

Another reality is that service management in today’s world of digital disruption is made ever more complicated as existing and emerging practice frameworks evolve. In fact, as service management expands to the entire enterprise now might be a very good time to think about simplifying your service management system.

Why simplifying service management can accelerate value delivery

How you manage services across the entire enterprise is no longer just an IT responsibility.

Establishing a simple, sustainable service management system will provide the basis for meeting customer expectations on a consistent basis and applies to the entire enterprise.

“…simplifying internal processes and structures will have positive impacts on the entire value creation capability of a company.”


The USM Method’s 5 processes and 8 standard workflows apply to all service providers inside or outside the enterprise and is one way today’s enterprise can strike back against the exponential increases in complexity felt by employees and customers.

“Managing complexity well can create… higher returns…lower costs…improved customer satisfaction…”


Want to find out more?

Join me over at ITSM Academy:

September 15th, 2022 at 11:00AM EST for a webinar titled ESM and the Big Re-Think and find out more about the Unified Service Management Method.

I’ll be following this with a series of two webinars over at the itSMF USA with the first one on:

September 22, 2022 at 1:00PM EST titled Simplifying Service Management for the Enterprise: ITIL v4 and the Unified Service Management Method

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(another) Mindful Monday: The enterprise service management mountain

An enterprise service management system drives continual improvement, and for many this mountaintop seems far away. But a standard management system for the enterprise can be established one rock at a time.

The Unified Service Management Method’s universal approach to defining ALL services — along with 5 processes and 8 workflows that apply to ALL service providers — create uniform building blocks that enable a simple, sustainable service management system to be achieved incrementally over time.

Today’s service delivery involves complex ecosystems that involve multiple services within a larger supply chain or network. Regardless of where they are within this chain or network, every service organization performs the same activities to manage their part of the service.

Whether the provider is delivering an integral (i.e., end-to-end) service or is part of a larger network of services, they each strive to convert customer needs into predictable performance using people, processes, and technology.

All providers will make changes, handle incidents, deal with customer wishes and manage risk. Who and how they accomplish these activities will vary, but these routines can be structured in a uniform way that simplifies their management.

This enables an organization the flexibility to use the USM method anywhere in the enterprise, and incrementally expand it over time. USM provides a level of standardization and interoperability that allows for changes to procedures and work instructions without re-work, so as your service ecosystem changes or your ecosystem providers add new practice frameworks you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

This provides a service management system that can be built and maintained — one rock at a time — using simple, standardized and sustainable service management building blocks.

Mindful Monday: Wisdom and the Nature of the Beast

The importance of establishing a service management system is old news; but it may be time to re-learn some old lessons: get your management system in order with a simple method.

It’s funny how wise words can seem boring; we’ve heard about establishing a service management system for years now. The nature of the improvement beast often comes from people who have been pushing the improvement ball uphill for a very long time.

The question is, have we been listening?

When I talk to people about the USM Method and say that it can help you establish a simple, sustainable service management system I can almost see the wheels in their heads spinning immediately to technology and ‘service management systems’.

And this completely misses the point.

Technology is only one of the organizational resources used in a management system:

Management system: the coherent set of organization resources that you organize and coordinate to realize your goals effectively and efficiently.

Applied to a service organization, a service management system defines the organizational structure, the roles, functions and profiles, the tasks, authorities, and responsibilities (TAR), the rules and guidelines, the culture, the means, and the routines: processes, procedures, and work instructions.

It is also well known that process comes before technology (remember that one?). Wise words indeed.

But are we listening?

Another common misconception about the USM Method is that it’s another practice framework. Even after repeatedly describing the differences between practice-based frameworks and a principle-based method (it’s even in the name!), I can tell that this has not always been fully understood.

Service management method: a fixed, well-thought-out course of action, based on principles, for the management of services.

A service management method is much more generic than a framework based on concrete practices. A service management method can produce all conceivable practices of a service organization and serves as a blueprint for practice-based frameworks. The method supports any organizational structure or technology.

With the emergence of enterprise service management and accelerating change, a simple and sustainable service management system is more important than ever.

It may not sound like ‘new thinking’, but the USM Method does take a look at service management from a perspective of wisdom.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”


Perhaps the USM Method is something worth listening to.

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Mindful Monday: Ask yourself…………. is The USM Method 4me?

Today’s enterprise portal encompasses all enterprise services and demands a simple, sustainable service management system at its heart. Attempting to adapt a single practice framework makes service management increasingly complex.

Today’s digital enterprise is leveraging multiple frameworks — ITIL, Scrum, COBIT, APQC, SCOR, IT4IT, NIST, ISO27001, and many others. The frameworks mentioned here are practice-oriented; they provide guidance on ways of performing tasks in actual situations. IT leverages ITIL, finance may use COBIT, and other business units may want to adapt APQC, Scrum or other ‘best practices’ based on their individual needs.

In 2015 I ran an IT Portal Boot Camp Series of webinars and talked about a one-stop IT shop which leveraged an IT portal and the ITIL framework. But attempting to ‘adapt’ a practice framework that was originally engineered for a specific business unit (such as ITIL for IT services) does not provide structural coherence with other practices within the organization.

A portal is a framework for integrating people and process across organizational boundaries, and this demands a unified service management system for the entire enterprise. USM provides a method for achieving this.

USM enables the enterprise to get in control of its service delivery, with a management system of 5 processes and 8 workflows.

“…Simplifying internal processes and structures will have positive impacts on the entire value creation capability of a company”


The Unified Service Management Method provides a standardized, unified link for sustainable supply chains in service ecosystems. The process model and standardized workflows are used by any organizational topology, leveraging any combination of practice frameworks for all internal and/or external service providers.

This step-by-step approach includes re-usable, standardized templates that easily apply to the entire enterprise and can be deployed incrementally. It improves interoperability between service teams by providing a level of standardization that does not limit localization of organizational structures or tooling.

“Managing complexity well can create … higher returnslower costsimproved employee satisfaction…”


If you are re-evaluating your current ITSM tool, struggling with ITIL or other practice frameworks or are looking to achieve a customer-driven level of maturity it’s clear to me that a simple, sustainable management architecture (not a technology architecture!) is what should be defined first.

4me, The USM Method fits this bill perfectly.

To see if The USM Method is 4you too, contact me today!

DevOps, USM and BeingFirst

As a cultural movement, DevOps is very much about people, and having been been strategic advisors to executive leadership for 40 years I wonder… have any of you DevOps fanatics leveraged the resources at BeingFirst?

Full disclosure, I am an Affiliate, but that won’t cost you any money and I’m not really interested in promoting them for my sake. But having read both The Change Leader’s Road Map as well as Beyond Change Management years ago I keep going back to their rich library of excellent resources.

For example, there’s an upcoming workshop on How to Launch Transformational Change Projects Successfully on July 26th, which I think will be interesting.

The nature of the improvement beast starts by looking in the mirror. It also requires us to pay it forward, think differently and engage everyone to roll that ball uphill.

Service management needs to mature quickly, and to achieve service excellence an easy to learn, inexpensive, and universal method of managing services should be available to all actors in supply chains and networks. The Unified Service Management (USM) method was developed for that purpose.

It allows flexibility for any organizational structure including matrix, team topologies, squads/tribes (i.e., DevOps), outsourcing, multi sourcing, or even a ‘Radical Enterprise’.

But as with all change, people are often the hardest part of the journey. USM and BeingFirst can be applied independently, but combined I believe they can help DevOps teams accelerate the path to transformative change and breakthrough results.

Will tomorrow always be another day away?

Starting my mindful Monday listening to Beaming Ortelius may have been a bad idea. Half-awake and listening to a podcast about CDEvents and a Keptn Deep Dive got me wondering if tomorrow’s always a day away…

Just because I’m not a developer doesn’t mean I’m not interested in development, and it doesn’t mean that lessons from the past can’t significantly benefit development either. Not everything good is open source, or even code related.

Open-source initiatives like Ortelius and Keptn are changing the game for developers, and we should encourage acceleration of efforts like these. But there are other things that matter as well, and that can directly impact both today’s value delivery as well as accelerate tomorrow’s.

The Unified Service Management Method (USM) is one of those things. As Jan van Bon stated in ITSM tools, using a methodical approach to establish an enterprise-wide management system for value delivery (i.e., services) that can accommodate different practices, toolsets and organizational designs can help today and tomorrow.

The use of 5 non-redundant processes and 8 standard workflows that can apply to any service and any service provider creates a simple and sustainable service management system that can be leveraged by the entire enterprise.

And the USM Method is not a day away; you can start today.

Is IT4IT for you?

I recently took a look at IT4IT’s version 3, and while there’s a wealth of information in there, I’m not sure it’s for me. Frameworks and standards such as ITIL and IT4IT provide huge bodies of knowledge, but today’s complex digital services demand a simplified and sustainable management system.

As the name suggests, IT4IT is limited to digital services. In fact, the IT4IT standard not only changed IT service to digital product it ‘changes this focus to address technology or code as the main actor in the delivery of an outcome of a service, removing those services performed by human labor[1].’

People are still actors in the delivery of outcomes. USM provides a sustainable management system for any enterprise service, not just IT services, so it applies to everyone in the enterprise. This also makes it far easier to consume than the IT4IT standard.

Again, as the name suggests, IT4IT is inside-out. The seven value streams described in the standard are designed to ‘combine all of the necessary capabilities to deliver value and support to the dependent parts of the Digital Product lifecycle’.

USM describes customer-driven service delivery. Four of the five processes and five of the eight workflows are customer-facing; USM is very much outside-in!

IT4IT provides a very detailed reference architecture that is designed to manage the business of IT. It ‘prescribes the value streams and capabilities required to manage the Digital Product lifecycle’. Similar to ITIL, IT4IT is practice-oriented; it provides ways to perform tasks in actual situations.

Whether IT4IT is for you depends on who you are and what you’re looking for. Jan van Bon posted about this years ago. I think large enterprises in particular will find plenty of good information in the IT4IT standard, and it should find a place in the enterprise reference library.

But what all enterprises need today is a dose of simplicity, and the Unified Service Management Method delivers that very well, as outlined in a single book.

USM is a method that provides the architecture and the management system to deploy any combination of practices in one integrated system, for any combination of teams or organizations, in any line of business.

Get a simple, sustainable management system in place with the USM Method; then pick and choose what other parts of your reference library apply to you.

[1] The Open Group IT4IT Standard, Version 3.0

Continuous Adaptation Requires a Service Management System – Successful Customer Outcomes and the USM Method

As Jan van Bon is articulates in his In Control with USM newsletter, he discusses what it means to be customer-driven:

“In the fourth growth phase of the Value Maturity Model, customer-driven, a balance is created between the position of the customer and the provider. The customer and the provider learn to determine together how the service is provided and how value is created for the customer. This is where the term ‘co-creation’ kicks in.”

Jan van Bon

Of course, this thinking is not necessarily new and in the book An Introduction to the USM Method it recognizes that the USM Value Maturity Model is based on a study by KPMG more than two decades ago. Don’t let this fool you! The USM Method has a wealth of information that is critically needed for today’s enterprise service management requirements.

USM Value Maturity Model

“There have been multiple instances where one ‘expert’ or another took something, ‘improved it’, and re-published it as new thinking. … even Deming spent a great deal of time copying Shewhart’s ideas and devising ways to present them in his own way. Students of continuous improvement are therefore students of history to some degree.

This sometimes creates friction between authors and confusion around who exactly is an ‘authoritative source’.

This is the nature of the beast.”

from Rolling Uphill

The new thinking of USM is more about adapting than adopting. One of the things I like most about USM is that it takes many of the lessons we’ve learned and looks at them from the perspective of a method for establishing a service management system rather than a framework or a practice.

USM and CEMM’s Successful Customer Outcomes

The facility that USM describes in its definition of a service (as a supported facility) can be related to the USM Value Maturity Model. When defining a facility from a customer-driven perspective, it reminded me of Successful Customer Outcomes from the Customer Expectation Management Method (CEMM).

Unified Service Management Method – Service as a Supported Facility

Facility – the combination of goods and actions that is made available to a customer in the course of service delivery and that is supported by the provider in its use by that customer.

The functionality of a facility specifies what a facility can do, or what a user can do with it (i.e., fit for purpose), and the functioning of a facility specifies how well the facility performs its functionality (i.e., fit for use).

Support – the assistance that a customer receives from the provider when using the facility; functionality of support specifies what kind of support the user gets (i.e., fit for purpose), and the functioning of support specifies how well the support is delivered (i.e., fit for use).

Customer Expectation Management Method (CEMM) – Successful Customer Outcomes

Successful Customer Outcomes (SCO) are the embodiment of what customers actually want from us, the organization. When crafting SCO statements:

• Ensure SCO statements embody what customers really want from us

• Represent personal perspective of the customer (i.e., outside-in)

• Ensure SCO statements are actionable

• Ensure SCO statements are measurable

• Ensure SCO statements make the customers’ life simpler, easier, and more successful if we deliver on them

Successful Customer Outcomes and the USM Value Maturity Model

The output of applying USM’s approach that a service is a supported facility does not necessarily guarantee a customer-driven definition of service, although that is clearly USM’s goal.

USM recognizes that customers also have different levels of maturity based on the Value Maturity Model.

Customer-Provider Value Maturity

If a provider is on level 2, and thus focuses on the systems that produce the service, and the customer is on level 4 and wants ‘integrated solutions for the business’, there is little chance of a satisfactory relationship between the two. Conversely, if a level 1 customer is only looking for cheap goods, and the provider at level 3 offers integrated services, the chances of a mismatch are also high.

The USM Method

What this means is that a Successful Customer Outcome (SCO) may be defined by a customer at any level of the USM Value Maturity Model. In other words, taking an outside-in approach to understanding what the customer wants from you as a service provider doesn’t automatically suggest that you must deliver services at level 4 of the USM Value Maturity Model.

Perceptions of Value, Successful Customer Outcomes and Service Specifications

When we use CEMM and stand in in the shoes of the customer to describe our successful customer outcome from this outside-in point of view, we should remember that value is determined by the observer.

So, if you’re talking to a person who wants a certain technology maintained you may get a technically driven definition of a service (i.e., I need my heating unit maintained); but if you’re talking to human resources, they may simply state a need for comfortable office environments (i.e., keep the room at 72 degrees).

Value can also be considered from different perspectives which could include social norms, technical possibilities, or cultural acceptance in addition to the specific stakeholders involved. In addition, it’s difficult to determine value in advance. The user experience has a major influence on the value of the service.

The result is that the enterprise is constantly accelerating the pace at which they attempt to co-create value with the customer and translate this value into business cases that have social, environmental, relationship and/or value-in use benefits for both parties.

This is resulting in a continuous flow of wishes from customers and providers alike as they attempt to co-create value, and a constant need to adapt routines across the service ecosystem(s).

Thinking Differently with The USM Method

Your service specification (a supported facility) will drive technical specifications and subsequent changes that will impact the routines of the provider(s). The use of practice frameworks requires a service management system that can quickly adopt industry best practice frameworks and adapt these routines to ever-changing internal and external customer requirements (without having to adapt the service management system as well).

We have enough of an uphill roll today. Leverage the USM Method and establish a service management system for the entire enterprise today.