MarsLander: Finding Value

By Dick Stark

On Thursday, RightStar hosted our first MarsLander simulation training session. 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. Twelve RightStar customers and prospects attended this free session. The session came across as a excellent and entertaining. But what value did it provide and what is the benefit?

RightStar advertises this session as ITIL 4 based so the attendees expect an ITIL 4 education. While we give an overview of what’s new in ITIL 4 such as the Value Stream and Guiding Principles, the simulation is more of an assessment of how to use the ITSM and DevOps framework within an organization and the resultant increase in value by better adherence to these practices. In other words, how to get to Mars quickly, make a profit, and improve customer satisfaction—all at the same time.

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. What makes matters worse is that in a public session the students don’t know one another and are more “siloed” than they might be if they were all from the same company.

Several rounds commenced with RightStar discussing the application of ITIL 4 concepts such as: Visualizing the ‘demands & opportunities,” mapping the value streams, identifying value leakage and improvements, and progressing iteratively.

At the end, the workflow was much improved. But, how do we translate these improvements to a call to action, that the attendees can take back to their own organizations? Similarly, how do our own customers that invest in new DevOps or ITSM toolsets benefit? Marslander key takeaways include:

  • Focus on value. Post the business goals and make them visible to teams.
  • Improve priority mechanisms linked to productivity and business impact.
    • How do we determine priority of work (sequencing, ranking, what takes precedence?)
    • How can we increase capacity by removing blockers (i.e. automation)
  • Collaboration. Foster effective collaboration.
  • Explore coaching roles. Use Agile coaches.
  • Reserve time for continual improvement. Do Retrospectives.

About dick1stark

I am the President, CEO, and founder of RightStar Systems, a leading ITSM and DevOps consultancy and BMC Software Gold Solution Provider and Atlassian Platinum Partner. My passion is customer success—whether it’s reducing the cost of service management, improving overall efficiency, or increasing end-user or employee satisfaction. Since founding RightStar in 2003, RightStar has made the INC 5000 list four times. In 2011, RightStar was awarded the prestigious National Capital Business Ethics Award (NCBEA) by the Society of Financial Service Professionals based upon RightStar’s foundation of honesty, ethics, and integrity. And in 2014, RightStar was selected by Forrester Research as one of 13 North American companies profiled in its ITSM Consultancy Wave Report. Finally, in 2019, BMC selected RightStar as its DSM North American Partner of the Year for its sales and partnership excellence. Dick is a graduate of Stanford University and a Project Management Professional (PMP).
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