IT GovernanceRisk Management

ITIL isn’t Evil, but You Are

ITIL itself isn’t evil, but those who use it incorrectly, well… As Joe the IT Guy reflects on a presentation by Colin McNamara at Interop New York, he realizes just how important it is for tools to be used as intended. And when you approach ITIL with the wrong attitude, your entire IT service management (ITSM) is put at risk.

ITIL is a Volvo?

Joe compares ITIL to a Volvo. In case you’re not all-knowing about cars, Volvos are considered to be among the safest in the world. Back to his analogy: A person who ends up driving a Volvo later in life might feel comparatively safer, and hence take more risks. Why?  Psychologists call it “risk compensation.” It happens when we feel safer. Since humans have a built-in tolerance for a degree of risk, we take more chances and get reckless when we’re feeling protected.

Risk Compensation

The point is fairly obvious. If one feels safer practicing IT development within the safety of the ITIL framework, won’t they become reckless and start to take unnecessary chances? Joe thinks so. This is arguably due to risk compensation. The conclusion: ITIL is great, but drives the wrong behaviors because of how great it is.

The Real Evil

To solve this problem, according to Colin, one must focus on the problem of ITIL being applied at the wrong time, in the wrong situation, and/or for the wrong developers. THAT, says Joe, is where the real evil lies. Why do IT organizations fail to implement ITIL properly? Any combination of several reasons might cause ITIL to fall into evil misuse.

Avoid the following:

  • ITIL as Best Practice Process (it’s for IT improvement!)
  • ITIL Adoption without a Clear Agenda
  • ITIL Bureaucracy without the Requisite Benefits
  • ITIL Not Integrated into IT and Business Operations
  • ITIL Used in Place of a more Appropriate Methodology
  • ITIL Used as a Success Indicator

Read Joe’s blog post at:

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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