The Agile Manifesto for IT Service Management

Posted on June 4, 2015

Since before the beginnings of the word “DevOps” many of us have tried to create an adaptation of the Agile Manifesto specific to Operations.  All attempts failed.  It is now apparent to me that they failed because DevOps was all together a more complex phenomenon than any of us realized at the time.  While it is true that we were trying to transform the way Development and Operations had occurred in the past, we were in very green territory, because they simply hadn’t worked together in the past.  Our enemy was poorly defined and the forces we were fighting against were foes we hardly knew.

The enemy at the time was us, ourselves.  It was the practices of the companies we worked in, the way we were told the world worked, the system we were forced to accept.  But by coming together we pooled our experience to create a new way.  More important, as this new way became popularized our own companies gave us the room to fully implement those ideas and forge the future we wanted and needed.

Today, the holdouts of the old philosophy are referred to as “Traditional IT”.  These philosophies are most entrenched in the field of “IT Service Management” (ITSM).

With a defined counterpoint it is possible to accurately contrast the new and the old to create a suitable adaptation.  Here it is:

Innovation and Creation over Tradition and Standards

Principles and Beliefs over Business Propositions and ROI

Collaboration and Open Source over Intellectual Property and NIH

Iteration and Experimentation over Comprehensive Project Management

Just like the Agile Manifesto: “while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

ITSM isn’t bad… but it has gone astray.  It lost its first love and became a means to its own end, making its practitioners conform rather than allow them to reform.   We must never allow DevOps to suffer the same fate, suffocating ourselves with our own hubris.   We must learn from the past, especially from ITSM, so that we may adapt, evolve, and innovate based on the values above.