ITIL Tattle

ITIL Tattle

Blog posts on ITIL and ITSM news and best practice from the ISG ITIL Team

Your guide to the “Guiding Principles”

For his last few blog posts (notably in last week’s blog), James has been teasing about the ITIL “Guiding Principles” highlighted in the current iteration (ITIL4).

Whilst I feel like a drum roll might now be anticipated given the build-up, these principles are not new and indeed are common sense!  I’ve often felt that a benefit of the ITIL advice is stating the obvious, so that everyone is on the same page.

So, expect no blinding insight, just a reminder and a surfacing of the sensible assumptions/presumptions that should guide continual improvement.


Focus on Value

If what we’re doing isn’t valued, or isn’t adding value, then there’s no point doing it!  More positively, we need to be contributing to the University’s goals, so what we’re doing should be valuable to the University’s teaching, research or public engagement.

Start Where You Are

No, not some sort of pop philosophical statement, rather a warning against jumping straight to “rip and replace” – what you’re currently doing has merit and wiping the slate clean to start again is very expensive in terms of time, money, effort and energy, so any gains made will be offset against that expense.  Thus a tweak to the existing situation can have a better return on investment, and should not be ruled out…

Progress Iteratively with Feedback

Small steps, with feedback loops to confirm you’re heading in the right direction, are more successful than a multi-year project which can’t be proved to be off-course until it’s complete.  One could almost say there’s a benefit to agility!

Collaborate and Promote Visibility

ITIL has always been about breaking down silos; working together for the good of the University is obvious, yet sharing information, improvement progress and data often seems scary.  By making data, processes and decisions transparent, they are open to review and improvement across the organisation (see below).

Think and Work Holistically

Although ITIL4 talks of a service value “chain”, it is clear that our services are a web of complex inter-relationships.  With a background as a scientist, I always wish to isolate elements as much as possible, but outside the lab, it isn’t possible (or often desirable) to control all the variables perfectly.  Hence the need to consider the service and services as a whole – unfortunately no human is omniscient, so we’re back to collaboration above!

Keep It Simple and Practical

Having acknowledged the complexity of our organisations, we shouldn’t add to it!  Sticking with simple, practical interventions is wise – there will always be edge cases and accommodating this will slow down both the initial delivery and operational benefits of any improvements.

Optimize and Automate

Wasteful activities should be eliminated (being lean has benefits too!), and if people can be freed up for the difficult, creative tasks, then the boring, repetitive (or high precision) tasks should be given to a computer.


So, there we have them, the ITIL4 Guiding Principles.  Nothing innovative or transformative, yet I’d still commend them to you and would challenge any suggestion that our student and staff experience would be better served by setting one or more of these aside…

(Fallout 3 Bethesda Softworks)

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