Sophie Danby has been questioning what it means to be an ITSM Community whilst Charles Araujo has been putting into words an overview of the discussions we had about the future of SMCongress. Those of us who were in the Pink Think Tank are thinking about how we can make the content we discussed useful to a wide audience, and there has been a wider debate on the Back2ITSM group and on Rob's blog about how itSMF International can be reinvigorated by giving people access to material that is currently hidden in plain sight.
I think these different discussions are extremely important for the future of both ITSM and ITIL. Not because I believe the future lies in crowd-sourcing but because I believe the future depends on getting three things right:
- A career structure that keeps people engaged with ITSM in the long term
- ITSM approaches, including ITIL, being driven by market needs
- A professional body for those working in ITSM in whatever role
This actually mirrors pretty much what I experienced many years ago when Internal Audit began to develop as a profession in its own right. Of course being IT people we would much rather reinvent the wheel than look outside IT for guidance.
How does this relate back to those post-Pink discussions?
We might as well start with the Pink conference itself. I've said many times that all the events we go to have their own sweet spot. Pink probably has several sweet spots. It manages to reach out to a wide range of participants, delivers a variety of content, and, perhaps this is the key, it actively reaches out to engage with participants, speakers, and , thanks to the streaming of keynotes and the encouragement of independent SocMed content it even reaches out to those who were not in the room.
There is a reason that so many of us believe that Pink is the once-in-a-lifetime-must-go-to-event-for ITSM and to be honest it isn't because they get the best speakers and have the best programme. It is because they encourage an environment in which networking and the discussion of ideas, both theoretical and practical is not only encouraged but actually hard to avoid. Compare that to the many conferences I go to where in all honesty the audience remains un-engaged and unchanged. I'm not recommending this, but you could go to Vegas the week is Pink is on, checking in on the Saturday, enjoy all the attractions of Vegas during the daytime and then in the evenings sit in on the discussions that take place in the two piano bars and you would take away an awful lot of ITSM goodness.
Despite of, or perhaps even because of, Pink's commercial nature it actually feels more like what I used to experience at conferences for Chief Internal Auditors. This is a meeting of professionals who believe in what they are trying to achieve, who are open to learning in many forms and who are given the resources and support to help them do things better when they go back to the office on Monday morning.
The ITSM chattering classes on SocMed that are such an easy target for Rob's blog love talking about the ITSM community. I think there are some good reasons for that, not least because the nature of ITSM means that it attracts people who, mostly, genuinely care about other people and want to share not just knowledge but also emotional support. However I believe that it is a red-herring. We won't make progress until we stop thinking
How do we engage the wider ITSM community?
and start thinking
How do we make ITSM a profession?
So, how do we make ITSM a profession?
You'll find lots of definitions out there but let me suggest a few things from my days as a professional internal auditor.
- A professional body membership of which is effectively amnadatory
- A career path that includes multiple options
- A body of knowledge
- Exams that are controlled by the professional body
- Professional standards that allow an outsider to judge whether a professional is acting in accordance with good practice
- Support from higher education
- A code of ethics and a disciplinary body
Perhaps here we have a role for SMCongress. Perhaps it should be the catalyst for the switch to becoming a true profession?
I await your thoughts.