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.

Be careful what you wish for… about setting goals and have success

Today I flew Business Class to Hong Kong. For some people that is not  a big deal, but for me it is! A few years ago I set myself a goal of flying business class before the age of 40, but had no idea that this was really achievable.

Now – you have to remember that I am Dutch, so by default I am very sceptical about spending money on ‘frivolous things’. I can’t help it… it’s in my genes!! So when I set this goal for myself it was very ‘out there’…. not something that would be easy to achieve, and most people who know me well would argue that it was a ridiculous goal to set as I would NEVER achieve it! But today, about 14 months later and 1 week before my 39th birthday here I am… sitting in Business Class flying to Hong Kong.

So what happened? Well – a couple of things really…

  • I verbalised the goal and talked about it to other people
  • I figured out the type of activities I needed to do to achieve the goal.
  • I stuck with it and chipped away at it… one frequent flyer point at the time… !  
  • I set myself the goal but that was not enough! I needed to put it into an action plan.

About 14 months ago I would only dream of flying Business Class and hope that it would happen someday. But like my mentor always says: “Hope is NOT a strategy”

So I signed up for a frequent flyer program  and started collecting points towards upgrades etc. And now I have my first upgrade.. I achieved my goal! One year and one week ahead of schedule!!! So, what can we take away from this? Well, apart from signing up for a frequent flyer program… it is very important to write our goals down.  What is it that we want to achieve? Just talking about it isn’t enough.. WRITE IT DOWN! For some weird reason that is a lot more powerful. Write down your personal goals for the next 12 months… your business goals or your career goals…

Once you’ve written them down you can start talking about it with other people to shape the way you want to achieve your goal (notice that I no longer talk about a dream?!?! A dream doesn’t have an action plan…. goals do!) This stage is important as it will help you identify what you will need to do to make it happen.. what actions do you need to take? What activities and habits do you need to start? Now that you know what you need to do, the hard work is done.. all there is left is simply following your action plan! One day at a time.. .do the little baby steps.

One day you will get there.. believe me! It works for me…

But remember:  “BE CAREFULL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!” 

Today I flew Business Class to Hong Kong. For some people that is not  a big deal, but for me it is! A few years ago I set myself a goal of flying business class before the age of 40, but had no idea that this was really achievable. Now – you have to remember that I am Dutch, so by default I am very sceptical about spending money on ‘frivolous things’. I can’t help it… it’s in my genes!!
 So when I set this goal for myself it was very ‘out there’…. not something that would be easy to achieve, and most people who know me well would argue that it was a ridiculous goal to set as I would NEVER achieve it!
But today, about 14 months later and 1 week before my 39th birthday here I am… sitting in Business Class flying to Hong Kong.
So what happened? Well – a couple of things really…
I verbalised the goal and talked about it to other people
I figured out the type of activities I needed to do to achieve the goal.
I stuck with it and chipped away at it… one frequent flyer point at the time… !
 I set myself the goal but that was not enough! I needed to put it into an action plan. About 14 months ago I would only dream of flying Business Class and hope that it would happen someday. But like my mentor always says: “Hope is NOT a strategy”
So I signed up for a frequent flyer program  and started collecting points towards upgrades etc. And now I have my first upgrade.. I achieved my goal! One year and one week ahead of schedule!!!
So, what can we take away from this? Well, apart from signing up for a frequent flyer program… it is very important to write our goals down. What is it that we want to achieve? Just talking about it isn’t enough.. WRITE IT DOWN! For some weird reason that is a lot more powerful.
Write down your personal goals for the next 12 months… your business goals or your career goals…
Once you’ve written them down you can start talking about it with other people to shape the way you want to achieve your goal (notice that I no longer talk about a dream?!?! A dream doesn’t have an action plan…. goals do!)
This stage is important as it will help you identify what you will need to do to make it happen.. what actions do you need to take? What activities and habits do you need to start?
Now that you know what you need to do, the hard work is done.. now all there is left is simply following your action plan! One day at a time.. .do the little baby steps. One day you will get there.. believe me! It works for me…
But remember:
“ BE CAREFULL WHAT YOU WISH FOR! “

Originally posted 2009-06-01 14:57:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ITIL V3 Certification – are you confused?? You are NOT alone…

For a scheme that has been around for approx. 2 years now, it is pretty sad that there is no increased clarity around the ITIL V3 certification scheme.  Where a few years ago most clients would be confused because of the scheme it self, now it seems that training providers are able to do their own thing..

OK – so what are the confusions:

1. First confusion: From the start there was the confusion on naming of the toplevel program. Initially the top level was called ITIL Diploma but later on this was changed to ITIL Expert. Try do a google search on ITIL diploma though… I am sure you’ll come up with approx. 103,000 hits.
For the record – the top level is called ITIL Expert. the ITIL V3 Expert certificate is NOT achieved by attending the ITIL Expert course, as there is no such thing. The ITIL Expert certificate is earned by achieving a minimum of 22 credits though either the ITIL V2 + Manager Bridge programs or the ITIL V3 programs. I wrote about the different pathways in this post.

2. The second confusion developed around the 1st of May 2009. From this day onwards, APMG released their new ITIL V3 Foundation and ITIL V3 Foundation bridge syllabus and exams. This means that from this day onwards ALL training providers have to adhere to the new syllabus with the amended timelines for Foundation and Foundation Bridge. The biggest change is in the ITIL V3 Foundation Bridge program, as the number of contact hours has increased to 9.5 hours.
This means that the Foundation Bridge program is now a 2-day classroom program (as I can’t imagine people wanting to do this in 1 day… just imagine: 9.5 contact hours + 30 minutes for coffee break in the morning + 30 minuted for coffee break in the afternoon +  1 hour for lunch + 30 minutes for the exam + some setup time for the exam… a minimum of 12 hours are required for this course! As an educator, teacher and trainer I know from experience that after 8 hours in the classroom people simply don’t absorb any more information…. your guess is as good as mine when you try to think about the effects on the passrates for the ITIL V3 Foundation Bridge exam.)

3. Third confusion is on naming conventions again. The courses that follow the ITIL V3 Foundation program are called “the Intermediate Programs”. Within the Intermediate programs there are 2 type of modules: Capability Modules and Lifecycle Modules. This is the naming convention that APMG described in their certification scheme and the associated documentation and illustrations. However, there are a number of course providers who have created their own petnames for these programs. Probably seemed a good idea when the marketing department came up with it… but what it does is completely confuse and frustrate the clients out there.

Example – earlier this week we received an enquiry to do the ITIL Expert pathway and this person was convinced that this was a 4 day bootcamp. When we viewed the link with the course information we could see where the confusion came from.
“ITIL Expert Certificate: Service Operation”- 4 day bootcamp….

This is NOT the ITIL Expert certificate.. this is a 4 day classroom program around Service Operation which will gain you 3 points towards the 22 needed for ITIL Expert certificate.

4. Fourth confusion is on the difference between ITIL V2 qualification and ITIL V3 qualification. This comes down to naming convention again:

ITIL V2 qualification is build up as follows: Foundation certificate, Practitioner certificates (x4), Manager Certificate

ITIL V3 qualification is build up as follows: Foundation certificate, Intermediate certificate (x9), Managing Across the Lifecycle certificate, ITIL Expert.

As both these qualification pathways co-exist, we as training providers have an obligation to separate to two pathways as much as possible to make it easy for our clients to know which type of program they have signed up for.

The whole certification and qualification thing is confusing enough as it is… let’s work together as training providers to shine a clear light so our clients don’t trip along the way.

Originally posted 2009-06-17 09:28:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ITIL Service Management – or how to deal with customers who say: "I want – I want – I want…"

I had a brain wave yesterday… (!) All of a sudden it dawned on me that a ‘want’  is not the same as a ‘need’… It is quite OK to have ‘wants’ as long as you understand that you can easily live without any of them. (Although a friend of mine commented that ‘wants’ are really ‘needs’ at some level, which I thought was really funny!)

So what does this mean for Service Level Management?
Well, we all know that we need to discuss with our customers what their needs are and when you read the ITIL books there is a differentiation between stated needs and natural needs. Needs are important when we discuss the Services and Service Levels with our customers. When we discuss new services with the customer we need to find out the Needs and needs levels, in other words: Service Requirements, of the customer for this service.  But, if Service Requirements Statements are about the customer’s needs, then why do we so often end up debating the customers ‘wants’?

Do you really NEED 100% availability of your email capability? Or is that a WANT?
How critical is this IT Service for the continuity of your business processes?

For some clients the answer to this question is: “It is 100% mission critical. All our business processes start with an email”. Well, in that case you talk about a NEED. But I’d like to argue that in most cases email capability is a WANT and not so much a NEED. We can still sell without email… we can send faxes or, hang on – this is a novel idea: call people on the phone and meet them in person!! (Yes, again – not possible for some organizations, but very true for most…)

Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against WANTS. After all, I am a girl who loves to shop 😉 But it has to be clear to both IT supplier and customer that we are discussing WANTS and not NEEDS, and that additional WANTS have a pricetag. Especially when it interacts with the mission critical services and systems.

Maybe we could re-write the ITIL books! Rather than talking about a business Service Catalogue and a Technical Service Catalogue, we need to develop a NEEDS catalogue and a WANTS/ Nice to have’s Catalogue.

Do you think that would make it easier for the average Service Catalogue Manager and Service Level Manager out there??

Originally posted 2009-01-12 20:29:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ITIL Foundation course … waiting for the new syllabus to arrive in May.

We have to wait until May 2009 for the updated syllabus to come into effect… but the wait has been so long! The comment we get each and every time we run a 3-day Foundation course is that it is too much information in too short a time!

And to be honest: I can’t blame the students! How can you get your head around the 5 lifecycle phases AND the individual processes AND the functions AND the concept of IT Service Management with ITIL framework processes and the fact that processes and functions work together and need to be customer facing & customer focused!

It will all be better when the new syllabus comes into effect, but until that time it continues to feel like you’re running a marathon. 

This week I was teaching a group of very experienced IT specialised, but it was a very diverse group: application support, desktop support, Service Desk and teamleaders were all part of the group. How do you keep a group like that together, all lined up toward the common goal of wanting to pass the exam? A lot of people compare it to ‘herding cats’ and maybe they are correct, I don’t know.

What I do know is this: teaching ITIL Service Management Foundation classes has made me a better manager. Over the years it has sharpened my skills to identify what is happening in a group, to deal with variable levels of content knowledge and interest in a subject. When you can do this with a group of 15 – 25 students, managing an executive management team of 8 is a piece of cake!!! 

All these potentially negative comments haven’t influenced my believe in the framework though – it works and when it does work, it will make the life of an IT professional a lot easier and less frustrating. But we need to actively manage the road toward that point. And for many people that road starts with attending the ITIL Foundation course… 3 days of flooding; 3 days of information overload; 3 days of high speed learning. It is the start of an amazing adventure and we expect our students to hit the ground running!

Originally posted 2009-02-05 18:59:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Will ITIL V5 still have Capacity Management as a process? Or is it replaced by Cloud Management?

This was the discussion I had with Rob England (IT Skeptic) and Eric Lauzon (CIO – Asia for Nortel) during the networking cocktail party on Monday.

That morning Eric had explained how Nortel transitioned their IT strategy. This was needed partially due to the way the world is changing and turning towards hyperconnectivity. Examples of hyperconnectivity he gave are the 4-fold increase of Internet commerce transactions, the amount of new facebook registrations each day and the NIKE wifi shoes.  Eric also discussed how Nortel implemented a unified communications strategy where the desktop is completely integrated with telephony (voip) and other cool things.

In the afternoon there was a panel to discuss the balance between capacity, resource and cost.

Anyway – those were the triggers for the discussion. 

So with our rapidly changing industry and the fact that this change is not just the change in technology, but also the change in customer demands and expectations – are we really going to need Capacity Management in the future?
Clients want access to an IT service and they want it NOW – this is what they are used to in the consumer technology market… and with the options of Cloud Computing, SaaS, virtualization and other web-based services we can pretty much deliver everything our clients want…. within their expectations for timeframew… so why bother with capacity management?

Well – because you still need to have an idea of where the company is going; what are the corporate objectives, what is important to the bottom line of the company, what type of service are they going to need in the future? So you will probably always need to do Business Capacity Management (the future looking part of the process).

The nitty gritty part of the process – the routine activities of monitoring, measuring and analysing utilization and performance of individual components will probably not be as important anymore in the future. All that stuff is dealt with at the supplier side.  The ‘cloud’ … you don’t control those components so you don’t need to perfomance manage them.

The internal IT shop will need to manage the performance of the web-based services –> the outcomes of that service, that is! So a much closer link to Service Level Management than we currently have. And probably closely linked to supplier and vendor management as we currently know it in outsourcing situations.

So I don’t think the process will be eliminated or deleted from the framework, but the activities to be performed will change. You can’t stop the control activities but you can eliminate a lot of the operational activities.

Interesting times coming our way!

Originally posted 2008-10-17 14:29:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2 Most important things to stay in business while times are tough

This is a very short post as I promised only 2 things… so here is comes:

1. STOP READING THE PAPERS AND FOCUS ON YOUR BUSINESS

I love this one as it is soooo true! The more time we spend on reading the articles in the paper with all the ‘doom & gloom’ stories, the more we are going to believe it. You become the bunny trapped in the headlights of oncoming traffic.

Also – the more time you spend reading the papers; both physical papers and all the news channels you subscribe to online… the less time you have to work on the business. And these are times to have laser vision focus!

2. JOIN THE GYM

Or at least start a program to stay fit! Your business needs you, more than ever. This week I spent 3 days at home with an amazing head-cold. I can’t remember the last time I was this sick and it involved every part of my body from the shoulders up. My brain didn’t function, my concentration was fuzzy at best, I couldn’t make decisions… it really affected my work.

So don’t give viruses and other germ a chance to grab hold of you: start a training program as if you’re preparing to run a marathon. You need stamina and a high level of overall fitness to run a business. When you’re tired and feeling run-down, that is when they will get to you. So start moving!

 

Good luck and have fun running a successful, focused business!

Originally posted 2008-11-15 07:54:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ITIL Service Strategy: Demand Management, and the top 4 resistance you can expect during implementation

Every process that you implement into the organization, will initiate some form of resistance. A large component of your project planning should revolve around communication, education and awareness. It is through these activities that people in the IT organization AND in the business units start to understand what Demand Management is trying to achieve.

It may take anywhere between 6 months and 2 years before people start to actively believe and evangelize about the benefits of Demand Management, keep that in mind!

 Some potential reasons for resistance are listed below:

  • Difficulty to produce a service before the demand materializes.
    Developing products and keeping them in stock is easy: as long as you have a manufacturing process and the warehouse to store it. With services this might be more difficult. For services you not only need physical assets, but also the capabilities of Human assets. In order to prepare for the delivery of a service you need to train, up skill or employ people with the desired skillset. When the demand is not there yet, these people might feel frustrated because they can’t do the job that they were promised. 

     

  • Aligning Capacity Production cycles to PBA (Patterns of Business Activity).
    This is also a potential area for resistance as the Business processes might be fluctuating more than initially expected. With the help of Demand Management you spend a lot of effort in aligning the Production cycles to (what you think is) the PBA, but all of a sudden the business activities change. This also may lead to frustration of staff members and you will hear the catch phrase “I told you so… this new process doesn’t work!”
  • Customer resistance to Demand restrictions
    Potential resistance doesn’t only come from within the IT organization, but you can also expect some to come from the business side. Especially since most of the communication around demand and business activities has been between the Business Relationship Manager and the Customer…. Most end-users won’t necessarily have been involved in this process but they will be affected by the potential demand restrictions that are a result of these discussions. This form of resistance can be managed by strong communication messages to all stakeholders, including end-users.  
  • Loss of business growth due to too many restrictions
    One of the possible challenges that you may face is that the Demand Manager will be a bit ‘too enthusiastic’ about the way the process is implemented. The process and associated controls go from one extreme to the other (being from no formal demand restrictions at all to too many restrictions). The pendulum needs to swing to a happy medium where the business is supported in its growth strategies by appropriate demand restrictions and controls. This issue won’t happen as clearly when the Service Level Packages are clearly aligned with the desired business outcomes.

Originally posted 2009-01-25 08:00:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The secret to success? Consistency!

This morning I am flying to Canberra to meet a few clients and as so many times before, I had to go through the airport security. And you know what happened?? For the first time ever, my bag was taken from the security belt and had to be searched…. reason: an umbrella!!

Not an issue, I hear you think – this is just another security measure, one of many as this has become a normal part of airtravel. Well, but what about the fact that this umbrella has been in my bag for the last 12 months (at least!) and I have been flying with this bag/umbrella combination at least 10 times now. (last time was last week)

The security guy told me that there had been an issue a few months ago when somebody put a knife in an umrella and this wasn’t picked up and since this incident, the security measures were upgraded to the extend that ALL umbrellas now have to be checked.

That is fine, but why didn’t this happen at the other 9 occasions where I flew with my umbrella in my bag? Why today, and not last week?! I find it very hard to take all these security measures seriously, especially as they are not performed consistently.

So what can I learn from this? How can I use this experience to improve my business? Well, the most important thing that we are working on is building a personal relationship with our clients. People buy from people they trust… and you can’t trust a person who is inconsistent. I can’t expect clients to buy from us when we change the rules all the time. So the secret to success is consistency.

Consistency without being rigid, as our customer service ethos is very high! There is a LOT we do for our clients, to help them with their business, to improve the way we contact our clients and the experience we give them.

So where would consistency be important:

  • Invoicing terms (when do we expect payment, and when do we start chasing?)
  • Inclusions in the courses (do students receive a certificate of attendance or not?)
  • Living up to our promises (we have a pass guarantee for our classroom Foundation course)
  • Processes and procedures (I always try to send an email within 12 hours after meeting a person to confirm the action items from the meeting)
People (clients) need to be able to know what they can expect when they deal with The art of Service, we need to be consistent… even when we don’t feel like it! Being inconsistent is NOT an option as it eats into our credibility.
Now, all I need to do is try not to forget…. 
Ivanka

Originally posted 2008-09-09 21:42:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter