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Working in the Shadows of ITSM

Sometimes, the things that need the most attention are those covered in darkness, lurking in the shadows. In a post for All Things ITSM, Michael Keeling explores this behavioral phenomenon of “shadow process” and what it does to the business.

Beware of Darkness

It is no secret that in a society full of rules and perimeters to live by, there are bound to be some rule breakers. What is interesting however is that sometimes, rather than one bad apple, these behaviors are actually actions of a collective group who have made this behavior a norm over time. Keeling has dubbed these behaviors “shadow processes.”

A shadow process occurs within an organization when an approved process that is expected to be followed is deemed “unworkable” by the employees. These processes can be as simple as eating at one’s desk despite a rule not to do so or to cheat on a diet, test, or partner. These are all things that are normal rules to abide by, but people break them because it is almost more normal not to follow them. It is important to note that these behaviors cannot be prevented, only monitored. Simply having a rule in existence is not enough to force people to comply; there need to be regulations and punishments for people to face.

There are a few other elements that need to be considered when determining if there is a shadow process:

  1. Is the behavior organized, not randomly occurring?
  2. Is the behavior consistently occurring?
  3. Does the behavior produce the same results as the approved process?

Shadow processes by their very nature are difficult to uncover, but there are a few tricks to do so, and one of the simplest ways is to utilize social media. What kinds of struggles and techniques are other companies using? Another route to take is to observe and see if one group is better than others. If everyone were following the same process, they would likely produce the same results, so if one group is doing better, they are probably abiding by a different process.

Not all shadows are bad and some employees are doing good. Just be mindful and do continual quality insurance to assure that projects are being completed well. You can read the original post here: http://allthingsitsm.com/shadow-processes/

About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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