We've all been there, environments that seem to be a never-ending force fed buffet of P1 incidents, war-rooms, project crisis, screaming Execs, etc. etc.
Our solution to this….? The newest sparkly tools & technology!
Well, not really.
Let's take a step back and look at our problem objectively.
When we operate in "crisis" mode, we start to view our issues subjectively rather than objectively. Fight or flight kicks in, we become more concerned with our individual "survival" and look for either the nearest exit or sacrificial lamb.
The result: Extremely poor decision making.
Which ironically enough creates more problems that we can look forward to addressing in the next crisis. We may think we have a short-term "win", a "stop gap" or "tactical fix", but this situation is not sustainable and eventually we run out of fingers with which we can plug the dam.
It's interesting to note how ITSM frameworks typically get thrown out during these times, the very frameworks designed to avoid these issues are the first to go during our mad-dash to fight the fire, only to trip over own shoelaces.
In addition, how does leadership expect to retain talent in these environments? Yes, we can all perform under pressure when needed, but our fight-or-flight coping mechanism is only designed to run short term. Too often I've seen talented resources get burned out and quit, without having added any long-term value to the business, through absolutely no fault of their own. We never do our best work under pressure, this is the reality, not the movies.
So what's the solution? How do we break this cycle of crisis being the new norm and pull our IT service centers back to the realm of sanity?
Simple, but not so much. Get back to basics. Pick your ITSM framework, be it ITIL, IT4IT, whatever, just pick one and run with it.
Write up your OLAs/SLAs, rules of engagement, workflows & strategy, give your resources breathing room in which to operate and make good decisions. Enable & support resources to make smart decisions at the appropriate level, and foster an atmosphere of predictability, which encourages resources to keep an eye on the long-term view whilst operating tactically. In essence, drive your organization from the inside out, rather than have external forces drive if from the outside in.
Sounds simple & makes sense, but here's the catch, to effect this change you need leadership that can step back from the ongoing crisis, see it for what it is, and drive these recommendations throughout their organization, regardless of push-back from external forces.
This absolutely is a top-down approach, requiring a leadership approach of people first and remembering that charity starts at home, the organization needs to be able to perform its duties effectively first, prior to expending resources on others.
Given this approach, we should be able to break the cycle of crisis, enabling our resources to spend more productive & valuable time on strategy and risk avoidance/mitigation, clearing the deck of future crisis and bringing the organization back to the realms of sanity.