This week, in the second of our author interviews, we catch up with Pamela Erskine, author of ITIL® and Organizational Change.
ITGP: Thanks for speaking to us Pamela. I’d like to start by asking about your book. Most ITIL® and IT service management books focus purely on best practice advice and how you might apply it in your organisation. But you’ve done something different. What made you want to write ITIL® and Organizational Change?
PE: I decided to write ITIL® and Organizational Change as managing change is a practice that isn’t well understood in Information Technology. We often believe that people should just do what needs to be done but people aren’t wired this way. Most of the time, they don’t even realize they are being change resistant. If we want to succeed with ITIL® adoption, we need to engage the staff in the process. As John Kotter would say, “We need to win their hearts and minds”. We really need to think about how adopting ITIL or other service management practice should change behaviors and then take actions to facilitate the outcomes we are looking for from our teams.
ITGP: So you felt there was a gap in the advice for the people part of an ITIL® project?
PE: When I looked at the ITIL® materials, they mentioned organizational change but they just didn’t provide enough guidance. ITIL® and Organizational Change complements the ITIL materials by providing in depth guidance on overcoming resistance to change, improving morale and productivity, building organizational change plans, and improving overall adoption of change relating to ITIL and IT service management.
ITGP: This sounds like knowledge borne from experience! So how did you get started in IT?
PE: I began my career in IT computerizing medical and dental offices. It was a long time ago. At the time, if you walked into a doctor’s office, they had an actual schedule book and they used ledger cards to record your charges and payments. I worked for a small company that helped offices computerize. I actually installed the computer and trained them on how to use the software. Eventually, I moved on to computers in a hospital and pharmaceutical setting. In this role, I became involved in developing and improving processes relating to patient flow and pharmaceutical dispensing.
ITGP: So, even early in your career you were involved in managing change associated with developments in technology.
PE: Yes. The installation, training, and process work prepared me well to move into management where my focus became IT transformation focusing on improving efficiency and effectiveness in order to improve customer satisfaction and manage rapid growth. Over the years, I worked in many different industries but I found my passion in transformation.
ITGP: Based on all your experience, can I ask what advice you have for those just beginning in the IT sector?
PE: For those starting out in IT, based on the current pace of change in the industry, you will have an exciting and challenging career. My advice to those starting out in the field is that your technical skills may get you a job but your interpersonal skills, ability to adapt, dedication, and your level of accountability are what really matter when seeking to advance your career.
Focus on working well with others. Consider changes in the environment a growth opportunity rather than a threat. When something goes wrong, be a part of the team that focuses on resolving the issue rather than blaming others. Remember, it is okay to say that you made a mistake but follow up regarding what you will do differently in the future. Everyone around you will remember how well you worked with others and your level of dedication in getting the job done.
You can be the smartest person in the room. Your technical skills could be stellar but if you complain the entire time you are fixing the issue, you won’t be remembered for solving the problem.
ITGP: One final question before we wrap this up. Can I ask you what aspects of your work you particularly enjoy?
PE: Being an IT Service Management Consultant and Instructor, I have the opportunity to work in many different industries with people at all levels. I love the mentoring aspect of my job. I often help people work through tough strategic and operational challenges. I walk them through best/good practice and I help them apply it to their situation. It is very rewarding to help people learn and grow.
ITGP: Training and mentoring are very rewarding, so I can see where you are coming from. I guess that’s also what made you write ITIL® and Organizational Change. Time’s up I’m afraid, but many thanks for speaking to us today.
PE: Thanks for inviting me.