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Kenneth ("kengon") Gonzalez

Author, Speaker and Digital Business Alchemist

The past few weeks have been pretty good. I spent part of it at the annual ServiceNow user conference — Knowledge13 in Las Vegas. It was a great conference and I’m so thankful to my esteemed colleague Michael Dortch for the opportunity to attend as a speaker and participate in his panel discussion on “ITSM in 2015 — and beyond!“. I had such a great time and have lots of stories to share, look for that in another blog!

Having had the opportunity to talk about my perspectives on the ITIL Joint Venture here and here and knowing that I was going to be at the conference, Linda King of G2G3 asked me if I was interested in having a conversation with a representative of the JV while at the conference.

JV Announcement

Small extract of the webpage with the Capita JV announcement

Within seconds of receiving this invite via Twitter direct message, I launched back with an enthusiastic: “YES!!!” Maybe I should have been a little more restrained with my response, but do remember that I am an American! 🙂

Given this, she set up a time to have a conversation with Chris Barrett (of Capita) who is one of the newly appointed directors for the Cabinet Office / Capita Joint Venture. I purposely arrived early on Tuesday so that I could ensure that I’d be on time for our meeting. I’m thinking that you’d like to know a bit about what happened?! OK, let’s do a run down, shall we?

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Based upon a recent exchange with Stuart RanceJason Druebert asked me:

Twitter Conversation with Stuart Rance and Jason Druebert

Twitter Conversation with Stuart Rance and Jason Druebert

I think that this was a great and timely question to ask. As one might expect, I do have my own preliminary thoughts on the Joint Venture (JV) with Capita. Rather than composing a response and cluttering up the timeline, I thought it would be best to use this as an opportunity to post a short blog! 🙂

Let’s have a look at my thoughts, shall we?
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My next couple of blog posts may seem as if I am just rambling, but I can assure you that there is a larger design intention at play here. In this one, I am going to follow up on my last post (The Power of Cultural Forces which used the ITIL tender announcement to illustrate the underlying principles) and talk a little bit about the limits of learning. Why the limits of learning? Well, frankly, we need to talk about it — we’ve not been doing well as an industry and it’s about time we fixed it!

For the purposes of this post, I will use USMBOK and an aviation example to make my points, wrapping it up with a few comments on ITIL and certificate programs. An aviation example? Why? Well, for those of you who do not know it, among other things, I am an Instructor and (Stan-Eval) Check Pilot. What does that mean? I provide flight instruction and  evaluate their knowledge and skills to ensure that pilots are fit to execute their responsibilities as Pilot-in-Command (PIC). I will say more about this in future posts, but let’s just say that this has an important shaping effect upon how I think and approach my work.

In fact, I think that a significant part of why I am good at what I do is precisely because I have this experience and background. Needless to say, I have an appreciation for “learning” that transcends what most people mean when the term is used. Would you like to know more? Good. Let’s have a look…

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Since the ITIL tender was issued in late 2012, there has been much discussion about the future of the framework and what this means to those that have come to rely on it. Indeed, as time has passed, especially over the past few weeks, many have anxiously awaited the Cabinet Office to publish the results of their evaluation and announce a “winner. In a certain sense, I can’t blame anyone for that. After all, many have jobs and/or are engaged in businesses which are directly related to this framework, so any reduction of uncertainty regarding its future should be a good thing for them.

As far as I am concerned, I’d like to go on record as saying:

I am not (and haven’t been) attached to the outcome. The fact that Capita has won is fine with me! It’ll all work out, in the end.

It’s not that I don’t “care,” because I do. I just think that the work I am doing transcends any one of the numerous frameworks or standards that I might be paying attention to at any given point in time.

Despite this, I think that this single event provides us with an opportunity to talk about a number of things that are very important to those with an interest in service management. So, for the purposes of this series of posts, I shall use ITIL as the foundation for a discussion about the power of cultural forces.

Let’s dive in, shall we? Good! 🙂
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Let’s start off with a simple, necessary assertion:

No one book will ever contain all of the things you need to know about a given area of study/interest.

No place is this more evident than in the area of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and (more generally) IT Service Management (ITSM). If you’re reading this, it’s 99.99% likely that you have some interest in one of these topics and are likely consider yourself knowledgeable about them. A wise author once wrote:

“It’s not what you know, it’s what you know that just ain’t so”

Now you might be saying to yourself, “what does this have to do with the ITIL books?!” Well, I am very glad you asked, because I have a story to tell you. Let’s get started…

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One of the reasons I enjoy social media is because it allows me access to some of the best minds in our industry. Because of a recent tweet exchange with Paul Wilkinson (of GamingWorks) and Stuart Rance (of Hewlett-Packard) on the topic of ITSM and organizational culture, I proposed that we schedule a Google Hangout to discuss this topic, record the session and make it generally available to the ITSM community.

hangout graphic

Would you like to know more? Good! 😉

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When I was part of the Product Management team for Global Consulting Services at Symantec Corporation, I had the chance to work with many great people and on the development of many excellent, leading-edge services. Often times, we start projects and are not able to see them through to their completion. In my case, the completion of our planned Green IT Services was a good example of this. I thought it was both timely and relevant then and I still think so today. Why? Let’s have a look…

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18 July 2012 was an important day for those of us who pay attention to international standards. Why? Because it was the date that ISO published this document on the pending makeover of the management systems standards.

One could consider this from a surface perspective (i.e. how a management system standard is organized) and completely miss the point!

“So, what’s the point?”, you might ask?

It’s about  demonstrating conformance, people!

Article on ISO website

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A quick scan of search engine results and tweets regarding the development of business continuity and disaster recovery plans will yield a significant number of results for you to go look at and research. In fact, there seems to be an overwhelming bias towards the planning portion of these two areas. Indeed, this bias can be seen in almost any area — it is not unique to just these two. I think that one of the reasons for this bias is the fact that few organizations actually make the investment to create credible plans. Still, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about what happens to those organizations that invest resources in creating their plans and then stop.

Why is this a problem? It’s just like the old joke/saying:

“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re actually different.”

Anonymous

Whether or not we actually think that’s funny, it’s actually pretty accurate. Because when something goes wrong during the execution of the plan, someone will undoubtedly say something along the lines of “well, that wasn’t supposed to happen like that”. Why something actually didn’t go “according to plan” is irrelevant, when you’re in the heat of a response effort. You just know that it didn’t work the way it was supposed to. That’s why I’m calling this post “Famous Last Words”.

Let’s consider this in some more detail.

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