By Dick Stark
About a week ago, RightStar hosted a MarsLander session attended by customers and prospects. Based upon ITIL 4, this role base simulation is highly realistic and leverages game dynamics to provide a vision of successful ITIL 4/DevOps practices and the resultant business value. Paul Wilkinson, GameWorks founder and inventor of MarsLander and other simulation exercises like Apollo 13 and the Phoenix Project, led the session. RightStar is now trained and ready to help other organizations improve their own ITIL and Dev/Ops processes.
In this simulation the attendees work in the Digital-service team of SPACE-Y, a company that sells data collected from their space missions to customers, such as Universities and Research Centers. The team’s mission is clear: “Launch a rocket with MarsLander, deploy it on Mars and collect valuable data for Universities and Research Centers.” The participants include: Sales Director, Product Owner, Customer Support Team, Flight Operations, Application Development, Service Manager, Systems Engineer, Change Release Manager, and Vendors. The challenge is to balance between delivering value and continually improving services in an agile way.
The game began and stress, confusion, and chaos were the immediate outcomes. Incidents happened and work didn’t flow like it should. Several constraints prevented goal accomplishment when round one ended. A retrospective included the following:
- Nobody took a coordinator role.
- No consensus on how work would flow.
- Business goals and roles were not shared.
- Prioritizations was based on ‘First-in, First-out’ or whoever shouted the loudest.
- There was no open feedback or collaboration
Round two commenced with the applying of ITIL4 concepts: Visualizing the demands & opportunities, mapping the value streams, identifying value leakage and improvements, and progressing iteratively.
At the end, work was flowing smoothly. Key takeaways were:
- Focus on value. Post the business goals and make them visible to teams.
- Improve priority mechanisms linked to productivity and business impact.
- Collaboration. Foster effective collaboration.
- Explore coaching roles. Using Agile coaches.
- Foster more Service Manager ownership
- Explore how to embed service management capabilities in product teams.
- Reserve time for continual improvement.
- Explore how empowerment can work within the value stream.
What was eye-opening for me was that despite my DevOps and ITIL background, I, like the others in the session, got consumed with my own assignment (I was the release manager) and failed to think properly about the goals of the entire organization and how best to collaborate with others. This is why organizations need Agile or ITIL coaching, and why simulation training, like Mars Landing can make a huge difference to help organization better understand what really matters