Shysters, Highwaymen, and others on the ITSM Journey

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Travel in medieval times was always full of challenges and dangers. Travel usually took place during the daylight hours, following roads perhaps built during the Roman Empire period, or following other roads that were not well paved, if they were paved at all. Sometimes the “road” was simply a rarely used path or obscure trail. Travel was slow; usually by foot or perhaps horseback, and journeys took days, if not weeks to complete.   Any journey was quite an endeavor, as people usually traveled in groups, not only for company, but for protection as well. Those traveling had to pack some provisions and hope to find a safe haven with shelter and food along the way in a roadside tavern. Travel was dangerous, as highwaymen hid in the nearby underbrush, looking to rob an unsuspecting party or unaccompanied traveler. Even during stops at a roadside tavern, the travelers couldn’t totally relax. Shysters would approach the traveling party and promise rewards in exchange for a sum of money, but the reward would never materialize, leaving the traveler with nothing. Travelers could also encounter mystics, who like the shyster, for a sum of money, would predict the future; when morning came, the mystic was nowhere to be found. Sometimes travelers found the journey too treacherous and stayed near the tavern or even turned back. Further compounding the journey was the various fiefdoms that traveling party had to pass through. Each fiefdom had its own set of customs and laws, despite the fact that the fiefdoms were all part of the same kingdom. Bad weather, rivers, mountains, and other obstacles presented challenges to the travelers as well.

But for those that planned well, took appropriate precautions, and remained vigilant, the traveling party accomplished their goal and reached their destination. Many times, there was a feast for the travelers to celebrate the successful journey.

Certainly, I think you can agree that modern travel has come a long way since the medieval times.  Medieval travelers encountered challenges, obstacles and shady people on their journeys.

But it occurs to me—are ITSM implementations so different than medieval travel? It isn’t so much of a stretch when you think about it:

Medieval Travel ITSM Implementations
  • Poor or non-existent roads
  • Often trail -blazing – there is no current road!
  • Had a destination in mind before traveling
  • Business Case and ITSM Plan
  • Traveled in groups
  • ITSM implementation team
  • Travel was slow
  • ITSM implementations take time (“journey, not sprint”)
  • Many obstacles and challenges
  • Many obstacles and challenges
  • Shysters, highwaymen, mystics, traveling party
  • People who support, doubt, or resist ITSM


Do you see the similarities?   While there is a lot here I could discuss, I’d like to focus on the aspect of people.

Are you encountering shysters, mystics and highway men on your ITSM journey? How are you keeping your traveling party focused on the goal? What are you doing to keep those that want to stop or turn back engaged?

When I think about it, I think that the people we encounter on the ITSM journey generally fall into one of three groups:

  • Believers –This group is energized about the implementation and put heart, soul, and mind into the effort. They don’t become discouraged when the inevitable obstacles and challenges arise, but use those challenges and obstacles as motivation to achieve success.
  • Doubters – Generally the people in this group take a “wait and see” approach. While they may not resist the ITSM implementation, they aren’t quite convinced that it will be successful either.
  • Resisters – This is the group that wants nothing to do with the ITSM implementation, and often work against the implementation.

In your ITSM implementation, you must address all three groups. All three groups are a part of your ITSM “traveling party”. None of these groups can be ignored nor favored to the determent of the others. So how to ensure that all three groups are being engaged? Here’s some suggestions:

  • Believers – Keep in mind that ITSM implementations are journeys – they take some time! Have your believers participate in the development of goals and objectives and identify interim achievements. Celebrate successes along the way, and approach challenges and obstacles as learning opportunities. Showcase the efforts and accomplishments of the implementation. Proactively engage them, solicit and incorporate their feedback on the implementation.
  • Doubters – Develop appropriate measures and reports, and show them the evidence that your making progress. Show this group how the use of continual improvement practices will help overcome challenges. Show them how ITSM is helping the organization achieve its goals and objectives. Proactively engage them and solicit and incorporate their feedback on the implementation.
  • Resisters – This one may surprise you—make them part of the solution! Purposefully include resisters on the process design teams and workshops. Have them articulate specific (not general) areas of concern and engage them to help determine the resolution to those concerns. Proactively engage them, solicit and incorporate their feedback on the implementation.

The ITSM journey will take some time. You may have rebuild some worn down roads or in some cases, blaze new trails. There will be those on your journey that want to sell you things you don’t need, or worse, take your money and vanish. You will encounter obstacles and challenges.   But in my opinion the most important part of the ITSM journey is the people that you’ll meet on the way.   Engaging your believers, doubters, and resisters – all three groups – is a key to a successful ITSM journey.

Need some guidance on your ITSM journey?  Tedder Consulting is here to help – contact me today!  Get my monthly insights into all things service management – click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

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