Inspiring Rare Birds Guest Blog: How do you do it all?

For all guest blogs on Inspiring Rare Birds go here. #ifshecanican

Yesterday I was stopped in the elevator on my way down from the Brisbane Book launch by a lady who asked me “Do you have a child, and if so… how do you do it all?”

Wow – can you believe that this is something I never really thought about?

To answer her questions:

1) Yes – I have a 14 year old son Frank whom I adore. I just love watching him grow up and being a part of his life every step along the way. Being an entrepreneur supports me in being a mum. I can go to school recitals, performances etc. as I simply plan around them when I can. (doesn’t always work out that way though, especially with interstate and overseas client obligations).

2) How do I do it all? The honest answer is: I don’t.

I don’t do it all.. I have an amazing husband who is my partner in many ways. We are a great team in running our companies together and we are a great team at home. His role in the business has been designed in such a way that he can work from home, so he can pick up the kids from the bus in the afternoon. He loves to cook so that’s what he does as well. Grocery shopping is either done online with home delivery or Gerard does it when he’s doing a school run. I look after the animals and I love to bake. A lot of the other stuff we do together.

Frank has been making his school lunches independently since he was 8 and he is responsible for his own school bag, laptop etc. We don’t have time to run after him all the time to do his jobs for him and he know that. His morning ritual happens without us having to manage his time which makes life so much easier!

We outsource or automate as much as possible: our iRobot Roomba is a fabulous little vaccuum cleaner for the daily top up floor clean for example. We also have fantastic gardeners who look after our property, making sure it doesn’t turn into a jungle.

Underpinning all this is the fact that both Gerard and I have a very clear understanding of our priorities. For example: Our windows don’t get cleaned every day or every week, probably more likely once a year, and we’re OK with that.

EKKA 2009 – 1 year celebration, and random thoughts on the success of ITIL implementation

Last year I started a series of  blogs on a public holiday for the EKKA, or the Royal Brisbane Agricultural Show. It started due to the fact that I couldn’t comprehend why people need an annual leave day to go to a show. (you can read my very first post here )

Exactly 12 months later (yup – today is Wednesday.. people’s day at the Ekka and thus a public holiday for all employees in Brisbane) and I still don’t understand it. But as with so many things, you grow to accept that this is the way things are happening.

But hang on… isn’t this the root of all evil, procrastination and failed ITIL implementation projects? If only we wait long enough, we get used to the status quo and take it for granted…

It’s easy to see how this way of thinking hinders our progress, and our aim to achieve more within our IT organization. Yes, in the beginning we spoke about how things didn’t make sense, and how we could improve these things. But over time we stopped talking about it because we were busy fighting fires and dealing with an overload of operational issues. And after a few months we were used to the situation… ” this is how we do things around here” . We stop looking into our processes from the outside, and don’t see the forest for the trees. We stop complaining and ‘ just get on with it’… Until there is a new manager, a new co-worker or a new consultant that comes in and asks the $64,000 question: “WHY do you do the things this way?” 

It’s important that we all know the answer to this question,  and there is no ONE correct answer. There could be many correct answers – ranging from : “we chose to do it this way because of budget constraints”  to ” We chose to do it this way because we investigated various options and this one worked best in our corporate environment”. The only answer that would not be satisfactory is: ” Err.. .I don’t know.. we sort of always have been doing it this way…” 

That type of complacency does a lot of damage, and when we simply accept the status quo we will not improve our services or our delivery. The fact that we haven’t done it any differently doesn’t mean our current way is correct or the most optimum way!

Imagine what the world would look like if the Monks in the Middle Ages accepted that they would be hand writing the books, or people would have accepted that travel was done by horse drawn carriage… simply accepted this notion without thinking about other solutions or different ways.

Originally posted 2009-08-12 14:35:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Up close and Personal with Ivanka Menken

These blog posts have been fairly personal, and in the past couple of years you’ve probably learnt more about me than you ever imagined.. I have however made a decision to ‘up the ante’ and start a video blog around a subject that is very near to me: what it means to run a business and the fact that we need to read and continue to read books to learn.


This is not a hollow phrase, I truly believe in this statement and reading books plays an important role in achieving this. Verne Harnish once said that successful business professionals (“A-players”) read a minimum of 24 books each year.  Busy business buddies booksAnd these books would be a combination of business books, novels and periodicals like the Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine.

If the video doesn’t load, you can always watch it here:  Up close and personal with Ivanka Menken



Let’s start a conversation – what are the books that made a big impact on you? I would love to hear from you.

Originally posted 2011-11-21 13:24:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Who came first: The chicken or the egg? (trying to answer the question why APMG/EXIN accredited ITIL Service Management trainers must pay for their ITIL V3 Intermediate exams?

WOW – that is one massive title… :-)

The reason why I wanted to write about this subject of ITIL V3 intermediate exams is because I find it very difficult to ‘sell’ this policy to my accredited trainers and our delivery partners.

This is the issue:

The Art of Service (and every other Accredited Training Organization) has to employ accredited trainers to be able to deliver the ITIL certification programs. This is part of the accreditation stipulation and we pay an annual fee per trainer for this accreditation, I get that.

But, with the new ITIL V3 certification stream APMG has also changed the trainer requirements. It is now a requirement that:

every trainer who wishes to teach any of the ITIL V3 intermediate programs has to have their ITIL V3 Expert certificate AND the certificate of the program they are going to teach.  

From a quality point of view, I sorta-kinda get that as well. For our organisation this means that each trainer must sit 10 exams (!!) as there are 4 ITIL V3 Intermediate Capability exams and 5 ITIL V3 Intermediate Lifecycle exams PLUS the Managing Across the Lifecycle. As we have course material for each of those programs, and anticipate to deliver all of them – we have to be prepared and have each trainer qualify for all  possible courses…

But – what I don’t understand is why accredited trainers have to pay full retail for sitting their exams? This is why I started to think about this as a chicken-and-egg conundrum.

  1.  It is due to the trainers and their interaction with students that ITIL has become such a powerful and globally accepted management framework. And I am sure both EXIN and APMG reap the benefits from that! Also, don’t forget that we have to pay an annual fee for the trainer accreditation as well.However, on the other hand…
  2. Looking at the obvious fact that APMG is a commercial organisation they are probably trying to squeeze every dollar out of the industry. Could it be that APMG hasn’t sold as many exams as they promised to OGC at the beginning of their contract last year, so what better way to beef up the sales figures than by first mandating that all trainers must sit for the exams and then following this up with a full price charging mechanism for said exams. That is an amazing way to make sales and revenue figures – almost a license to print money! The trainers have no choice but to sit for the exams…. kaaaaching!!

Without trainers you don’t have accredited courses so no exam participants – which means no $$$ for APMG. And by charging for each trainer exam, I am sure people will become very selective in the type of exams they are going to sit for. Less trainers means less students, means less knowledge about the framework, which means that it is less well-known (and/or implemented incorrectly so it doesn’t clearly offers the value to the organization) which brings the risk that IT organizations will be looking at alternatives… Cobit anyone?!

Originally posted 2009-01-16 09:19:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rob England keynote #leadit

Rob England (aka the IT Skeptic) guided us through a forrest of IT Service MAnagement trends in the next decade.

some of the major take aways from his presentations are:

Information Technology really should be rebranded as Information ENGINEERING. It is important to mature our industry along the lines of the Engineering industry where we need education and qualification as entry level requirements and ongoing certifications to remain part of the profession.

The future of our industry relies on 3 major ‘legs’ (like the castors on an office chair):

  • Governance
  • Assurance
  • Service

The service component needs to focus on:

  • Service Design
  • Lean
  • Outside in – being customer centric
  • Social Media

ISO 38500 is an important standard for IT governance (or rather corporate governance for IT Management) because it provides us with a clear separation between RULE and GOVERN.

–> IT rules itself, but can not GOVERN itself. Governance is the task of the corporation.

Finally Rob made the point that as IT Professionals we are way too focused on the technology. Sure – we pay lip service to the mantra ‘People – Process – Technology’, but in reality we work the other way around: Technology, process and a little bit people.

People are massively important and they have been neglected by our industry. The IT Executives are finally waking up to the importance of people so the future trend is:

People first, then process, then technology.

The challenge in this is to also create our project budgets and business plan to equally balance these components, rather than the historical budgets around Software license – vendor support – little bit of end user training…

However – this might be wishful thinking for the next decade. Maybe we need to get Rob back in 10 years to re-iterate this message??

Originally posted 2010-08-24 23:15:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are you an ITSM Grand Master?? or did you happen to pass your theory ITIL exam?


… has been our motto for the past 10 years, as you never stop learning and never know everything about a subject.

Our students know that things change rapidly and that there is always something new that you will need to know. A new theory, a new framework or simply a different approach to the same issue. And we want to enable you them keep studying, and continue to learn.

I can’t remember who said it but this quote rings true in this context: ” insanity is: doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome”…
As an ITSM Grand Master you expect a different outcome – you want things to be better, easier, smoother, more efficient and more fun. So clearly we need to do something different to help you achieve your goal.

So far our ITIL V3 Intermediate elearning students are well on their way to become a true Expert, but there is so much more to learn before you can call yourself an ITSM Grand Master!

How about:

  • Customer Service Management
  • Cloud Computing
  • Career Development / Professional Development

And there are toolkits available to help you get the best out of your project, templates and checklists to speed up the implementation of the processes, etc.

As content creators and educators we constantly think about ways to help ITIL professionals to make the most out of their new certifications. How can we help you to be successful in your career? How can we make sure you become the ‘Grand Master’ , the authority that people go to when they have an issue with their IT Service Management?

“You don’t get great at anything in a day… you get great at it day-by-day”

In order to get great at anything you will need to learn and practice. To become an Expert at anything you’ll need to spend at least 10,000 hours on it!
That is the reason why we continue to support our students on their way to become an ITIL Expert, not just the certificate from APMG — but a true and tested GRAND MASTER. We want to be there to help you get through the 10,000 hours.

That’s where training stops and education begins… that’s where the journey becomes a shared experience and not an isolated learning event..

I am so excited to be able to be part of that journey for thousands of people across the globe. Students for life who are excited to share in their successes.


Originally posted 2010-03-01 16:40:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Which ITIL lifecycle phase interacts with the clients?

The ITIL Framework is based around IT Service Management (so basically the activities that need to be done to create, deliver and manage IT Services).
As the focus is on the management of services it is of vital importance to stay in constant contact with your clients, every phase in the Service Lifecycle focuses on customer interaction.

For Example:
Service Strategy – Demand Management needs to listen to the clients to figure out what the Patterns of Business Activity are. What is it that the client needs from IT in terms of service types and support?

Service Design – This phase has processes like Service Level Management and Service Catalog Management. The Service Catalog has a business component to help clients make appropriate decisions in relation to the type of services they wish to purchase. This phase also starts the creation of a Service Design Package which features User Acceptance criteria.

Service Transition – This phase interacts with the customers about changes to the Services and Service Experience. Change Management will interact with the clients for high impact changes as their input is important in the assessment and authorization of changes.

Service Operation – This phase interacts mainly with the End-users of the service as this is the phase where all day-to-day activities take place. The Service Desk is the first point of contact between the business community and the IT Group.

Continual Service Improvement – This phase needs clear direction from the business and as such interacts with the customers in relation to vision, mission and strategy. Customer Satisfaction surveys are usually initiated from this phase in the lifecycle.

See? Every phase interacts with the clients and end-users at various levels. The IT group can’t work in isolation (anymore…) and needs to know exactly what it needs to deliver to the customers to what level of expectations.

Originally posted 2009-10-11 10:14:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are visas designed to make us cheat?

Since I am going to South America next month I have entered the wonderful world of visas again…. AARGGHH  – and it is driving me crazy!

Why do visas still exist in the first place? Isn’t it enough to have a checkpoint when you enter the country so that people know where you are and for how long you are staying? Why are there 5 million different visa types with an equal amount of paperwork to be filled in before applying for said visa? (OK – 5 million might be a slight exaggeration, but I am not far off…. ). Is it to discourage people from going to your country to do business / work / entertain? (Oh – this person is coming over to bring knowledge to our IT Professionals so that our businesses run more efficiently and provide better value for money… oh no – we can’t have that! We need to place a hurdle in this person’s path…)

:-(  (sorry, I am feeling very frustrated at the moment – can you tell???)

OK – so here is the story: I am going to Brazil for 10 days to do some keynote presentations at a conference and to do a Train the trainer program for the trainers of our new reseller of ITIL Service Management programs in Brazil. This TTT is one of the compulsory requirement for any reseller we have so its not like I have never done this type of assignment before…

Normally I apply for a business visa for the country that I am going to as clearly I am not going to the country for leisure… And applying for a tourist visa would be cheating and lying and I prefer not to do that.

This time I am getting very close to it though.. as the Brazil visa system is driving me insane!
We applied for the business visa and within 24 hours received a very polite email  from the embassy in Sydney that since I will be training Brazilian residents I have to apply for… (wait for it…) A WORK PERMIT!!!

WHAT THE..?!!!

Oh, and to apply for the work permit the first phase has to be done in Brazil and the second phase in Australia. Oh yes,… and get this: it is TWICE the price of a normal busines visa… I am starting to get seriously annoyed by now. 

So – if I would have lied and said I was a tourist I would get a FREE visa for 90 days….(at least I think it is free – to be honest, I haven’t looked into it because it is not my intention to do this).
If I would have lied and told the embassy that I am attending a conference as a delegate and did some business meeting I would have been able to apply for a visa in Australia for $90 and a 5 day turnaround. But because I chose to tell the truth I am now penalised with a temporary work permit visa which costs approx. $160 (+ birth certificate copy + other formal documentation that I need to find somewhere and ‘certify the copy’ at an extra expense) oh – and it takes 30 – 60 days processing time!!!!

I honestly don’t understand the system – I can sell training courses online to Brazilian residents (who BTW live and work and study in Brazil) without a work permit but the moment I enter the country to do the EXACT same course face to face I need a work permit???

This is a system that is NOT from this day and age anymore… I’m sorry but I fail to see where the benefits are (except for the government who can pocket a nice revenue for each visa that they process…

And don’t think I am singling out Brazil… Australia is just as bad (or equal) and I can’t comment on the USA but I am sure there are plenty of stories about that country and its rules and regulations…

End of the story is that I might NOT be going to Brazil after all… it’s too short notice for the visa process to clear.
Would be a shame and a missed opportunity for the development Brazil’s IT industry.

Originally posted 2008-10-25 13:04:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

how to implement a CMDB, CMS and Configuration Management without any problems

Did that get your attention?! Reality is that most people struggle with the implementation of Configuration Management. Their projects tend to become ‘bigger than Ben Hur’  and the CMDB is not trusted because the data is inaccurate.

What do you need to do to make your CMDB a valuable component of your IT Service Delivery? Where do you need to start? And what are the pitfalls you need to avoid at any cost?

Well, first things first: A CMDB is NOT a product that you buy…  It is the result of the implementation of a Configuration management process and the collection of databases and repositories you need to collect the information about components and how they relate to each other.

At the start of each implementation you will need to manage expectations. Start each initiative with a full blown marketing& sales campaign so that every person involved knows what is happening and why.

Every organisation is at a different level of maturity, and you will need to match your Configuration management implementation to the maturity level of your company. Start with Incident Management… what areas of service deficiency can we target with a CMDB or CMS? Where can we leverage the current technology? Where can we eliminate further incidents by utilizing the knowledge we gain from Configuration Management?

Remember our maturity level… At any point ask the question: “does it make sense to take it to the next level?” If you can’t answer that question… don’t move on!

After you’ve identified the chaos you’re in and recognized through Incident management where to focus your attention you can start off with some good old detective work! This inventory is important because it builds the foundation of your future IT Management activities.

You’ve done step 2 and created an inventory of products and services… this is starting to look like an Asset Management system. But don’t get sucked in at this stage… remember you maturity level! Only measure what you are capable of… and don’t try to do too much or too fancy. Even when you identify that you are only capable of measuring the current state – that’s OK! Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not!

This is also the time for an honest (re-)assessment because most organisations already have most of the data they need – just not in the form of information that can be used. Look seriously at your current data sources that you can re-use. Where can you consolidate data sources? Where is the overlap? Even though the data may be out dated an/or of poor quality, this doesn’t mean you can’t work with it. At least it gives you a starting point. A benchmark to which you map out your improvement projects and processes.

When you follow these honest steps you’ll be on your way to a mature Configuration Management Process and CMDB implementation before you know it.

Good luck!

(This blog was inspired by a presentation by Glenn O’Donnell and Carlos Casanova I attended at the itSMF Fusion10 conference). Glenn and Carlos are the authors of ‘the CMDB imperative’ )

Originally posted 2010-10-29 20:54:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Didn't pass your ITIL V3 Foundation exam?? Don't despair.. you're NOT alone!

As I mentioned in an earlier blog – as of the 1st of May 2009 there is a new syllabus for the ITIL V3 Foundation and ITIL V3 Foundation Bridge exam. This new syllabus is a result of the global review and lots of feedback from many students, training providers and examination institutes.

The biggest comment was that the Foundation program was basically ‘too much information’ for a 3- day course and the regional representatives spent 2 days talking about a better way of teaching this Foundation level of the ITIL V3 Service Management program.

Based on this feedback and these discussions, APMG created a new syllabus for the Foundation and Foundation bridge exam and a completely new set of examination questions that are in line with the syllabus. The accredited training providers received the new syllabus and two sample exams to prepare their new course materials to be in line with the new formal exams.

Soooooo, as of the 1st of May all training providers are offering new materials based on the updated training and exam requirements.

A quick check with a number of providers shows that from the 1st of July the percentage of successful candidates has decreased quite dramatically for Foundation exam participants. Also – the average results has dropped from 85% -90% to as low as  70 percent.

Now – as training providers we do NOT have access to the real exam questions (and that’s a good thing, as it keeps the training separate from the exam. It ensures that your certification is independent from the training), the only thing we have to go on is the syllabus,  exam requirements and the sample exam. This drop in number of successful candidates is something that is being investigated by a number of training providers.

IF you are one of the candidates that sat your Foundation exam AFTER the 1st of May 2009 and you feel that the exam was quite different from the course materials and the sample exam. In other words – you feel that the course and sample exam did not give you a true indication of what the real exam was like – contact your training provider and let them know!

Every 4 months there is a formal review of exam results to assess if the exam and/or syllabus needs to be updated.. all feedback is important, so speak up!

Originally posted 2009-06-20 17:05:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter