The Service Management Solution Framework (SMSF)

Because IT services continually proliferate, the supply of people taking on ITSM at the beginner level never decreases.

And because there are so many pathways to management maturity within ITSM, many different uses of language compete to define, explain, or justify relevant ideas.

Consequently, despite even the most popular “standards”, such as ITIL,  ITSM practitioners and commentators constantly regenerate confusion about providing and acquiring “solutions” to the problem of managing IT services for the business.

The confusion means that the investment in prescribed activities and offered support can be difficult to assess for its probable effectiveness. Many activities have immediate measurable effects, but the objective is to know when an effect is specifically constructive as evidence and progress of a “solution”.

A Solution Framework provides a standing reference for recognizing when and how something qualifies unambiguously as a solution. This Archestra Research notebook narrows the scope of the problem to exposing what a “solution” is, regardless of its source.

The framework consists of three perspectives: Business-centric, Capability-centric, and IT-centric.

Service Management Solution Framework Part 1

Service Management Solution Framework Part 1

The framework standardizes uses of terminology, while it calls out issues and activities that are usually already underway but that need to have their coordination specified.

By tracing the business view through the enabled capabilities supported by IT, all areas of managed contributions are aligned under accountability for inclusion and completeness in covering issues that make something a “solution”.

The full discussion of how to use the framework is available in PDF form at this link to its Slideshare location.




Incident Management Demystified


Due to the easy recognition that a service offers a modular approach to assembling supporting facilities for operations at any scale, the concept of “services” is a hot topic at many levels of organizational production. In turn, that makes the experience o using services a top priority in the consideration of operational and production performance.

This leads to a quick appreciation of why difficulties in service utilization become so prominent in an organization: services in effect become the “API” that is provided to the workforce for exploiting industrial-grade support of their efforts — in particular, the support provided by any enabling automation technology.

Since worker operations power the progress of maintenance, change and exploration, any expectation of competitively advancing rests on how well workers can leverage their resource. Thus, Performance is inhibited by interruptions of that leverage, which means that performance is also constrained by the capability to manage incidents.

Inspired by that prominence, the topic of incident management stays in the foreground alongside most other considerations of competitive advantage. However, even though the above understanding is commonplace, somehow the matter of how to define, track and handle incidents falls into debate.

We think this ambiguity starts at the level on which organizations demand accountability, which in turn subjects the issue to any preferences or habits of sub-organizations given responsibility along with the accountability. Many of these preferences and habits are institutionalized in local terminology, which brings up the need for a frame of reference that allows different specializations to identify when one of them is actually talking about the same thing or working on the same thing as is another one.


One hugely important observation is that an incident is largely psycho-logical. Unlike an mere unspecified difficulty which could simply be tolerated, it has to be noticed in order to be managed (accounted for), and it has to be defined in order to be noticed.

In general, an “incident” is:

  • a detected significant departure from …
  • a condition of an activity, …
  • where that condition was defined by the expectations of a known intent.

Yet, while detection is, by definition, always involved, reporting the detection is not. There can be a very significant difference between the presence of incidents and awareness of the incidents by any parties other than the immediate directly affected party.

In general, the management distinction of “an incident” has value in terms of the prevention of an incident and/or the response to the incident.

Prevention demands a clear view of the environmental dynamics that allow or cultivate activity without incidents. Options are mainly in the design, distribution, and prerequisites of the contact between workers and their various resources.

Response requires understanding, weighing and prioritizing relevant options to regain (resolve) a systemic stability in the interactions that accompany normal uninterrupted effectiveness.  Options are:

  • Circumstantial – a recovery of superficial user progress for the moment
  • Relational – a restoration of prescribed reliability on an underlying dependency
  • Fundamental — a re-engineering of the intended permanent infrastructure

Different parties should be able to map their existing roles and scope of authority to the design/distribution/prerequisites of prevention, or likewise to the recovery/restoration/re-engineering of response.


To assure that there is a commonality of perspective across those multiple points of view, we go to the fact that the operational environment discovered and exploited by workers is to some degree found ad hoc (which creates opportunities), and to some degree commissioned by design (which creates expectations). We also recognize that the environment at hand is typically far more extensive than any worker’s practical familiarity with it. Consequently, there is a degree of uncertainty about what will occur, while there is a degree of prescription about what should occur. This is the normal condition in which incidents are found.

The following lays out a common-sense understanding of how to recognize incidents and approach them from both the proactive and responsive standpoints, simultaneously. That kind of recognition allows the organization to be working on the environment continually with the ability to systematically compare intents to actuals in a closed loop of service production, deployment and service feedback. In this view, any whole or part of a service is a logical item to be addressed, since a service may itself be composed of other services, and the exposure of any service may be specifically significant at the whole or component level.

This version of the framework predicts the possibility of 49 generic types of incidents, completely without any binding reference to a particular organizational entity or infrastructure. Example: From one moment to the next, the likelihood of an “access error” may be greater or lesser than an “output omission”, but standard guidance predicts that both can occur depending on prevention and response.

Incident Definitions Framework


Presence On Demand – The New Productivity

A demand-based orientation redefines the way productivity is is defined and recognized — replacing the concerns of the supply mindset used by providers with the demand mindset used by consumers to evaluate their engagement with the influence of a company. The following figure illustrates the drill-down of concerns from Return on Investment in what the company does to the value attributes of its encountered activity and behavior. The concerns are highly summarized and contrasted between the supply orientation and the demand orientation.

Productivity On Demand_ROI and Value Matrix

Assessing Innovation Capability

The full-blown industry of innovation management consulting includes the usual complement of academia; professional services including training; the business media; and experienced in-house FTEs. At the same time, measures of success more often seem to exist only within the small percentage of organizations that already perform innovation well, somewhat like trade secrets. And from the outside, once we exclude the top ten lists, it is difficult to distinguish between exceptional success and repetitive success among all others. Finally, much more is heard about the difficulty of being successful than about the confidence of becoming successful. Since innovation is now a default imperative in most businesses getting press, this situation is not one that will remain unchanged.

Changing it leads to the need for identifying the key factors and indicators involved in successes and failures, and being able to compare them.  But an interesting and persistent problem is that so far, despite years of effort, both practitioners and motivated researchers offer such a wide range of differences in descriptions, explanations, methods and priorities for addressing the capability to innovate. This might simply reflect the true level of complexity of innovating successfully, but what we don’t know is whether the apparent complexity is originating in certainty or in uncertainty.

The challenge of reaching consistency in matching different ideas and approaches to successful outcomes also reflects two familiar problems. One is the problem of not being aware of what is unknown yet needs to be known. The other is the difference between correlation and causation. In both cases, guidance is needed for deciding what to look for and what to notice about it. And per the subsequent discovery, is innovation more like chess, or more like physics?

In the following discussion, an Archestra framework has derived from first surveying how people talk about innovation, with a special emphasis on what distinctive but general topics have most often recurred as “highly important” across the breadth of roles and environments cited. The initial perspective is very high level:

Innovation as Generic Production Capability

The further exploration is essentially about the underlying semantics that cross circumstantial boundaries of the speaker’s roles and environments. We classified the recurring discussion subjects and topics into two groups of meaning: one about the general subject of opportunity to innovate; and the other about the general subject of actually generating the innovation. We also took each group’s individual topics as placeholders to each be interpreted into corresponding issues about intent and about execution.

Opportunity topics and their related terms:

Innovation Opportunity Topics

Actualization topics and their related terms:

Innovation Actualization Topics

The final interpretive work cross-references the opportunity versus actualization issues for intent, and the opportunity versus actualization issues for execution, yielding two corresponding frameworks for the “front end” of innovation capability and the “back end” of innovation capability, respectively. These frameworks call out the specific factors contributing to the capability to innovate. See the documentAn Innovation Capability Assessment Framework for the detailed discussion of the frameworks.

Strategy As Culture

All organizations face the necessity of dealing with IT transformation and therefore the uncertainty of IT’s evolution. Specifically, transformation produces and includes three huge variations of information technology availability: modification, diversity and innovation. However this variety does not mean that there is no logic to employ for making and synchronizing progress within IT’s transitory state.

Real Time Service Management means both managing real-time services in runtime and exercising continual management in real-time.

The main challenge addressed is the unpredictability of the overall environment within which technology users make choices and commit action on their own.

For a user of information, the diversity of automation technologies represents multiple ways to gain a given outcome. However, the ongoing pace and processes of continual change create a significant risk of reducing the convenience of diversity to the confusion of complexity.

The combination of modifications, innovations and diversity resists predictability and optimization. Yet the users’ concept of value is based on their confidence in getting the kind of thing that they need at the time to do what they are trying to do.

This pits the users’ circumstantial awareness of apparent options against a knowledgeable awareness of the real options (processes, infrastructure and support) that affect the users’ intentions. Additionally, the number and variety of users makes demand a problem of scale as well as timing.

Therefore the issue is, what kind of logic successfully manages the accessibility, scaling and manipulation of the IT environment? Management continually profiles the current state of user-service interaction to make decisions about where and why to exert influence. In effect, that makes strategy cultural.



The user’s overall desired experience of technology is not hard to articulate.  As opposed to opportunistic usage, deliberate foreseen usage questions numerous factors that make up a degree of confidence in making choices.

Technology Awareness


The user’s intuitive perspective on technology options is highly pronounced in real-time demand. That perspective includes a set of typical concerns imposed on the pool of options. Staging the fulfillment of demand amounts to promoting manageable offers, expectations and constraints that users recognize.

Management organizations plan to enable diversity to satisfy the user, exerting influence on how the user’s requirements align across their concerns.

Technology Scale for Diversity


Management influence, as seen above, can systematically take on all of the currently transformative aspects of technology usage and direct them towards predictably enabling affects on users. The management organization also has the responsibility to generate this coverage at whatever scale the business requires. Scalability focuses the organization on infrastructure, process and support as means to enable the key real-time fulfillment workflows for translating demand into received provisions.

Applying the workflows at the necessary scale is realized through a set of basic capabilities that are exercised on a continual basis. All solutions for managing technology utilization are understandable in terms of their contribution to these capabilities.

Technology Management Workstreams

Service Design Modeling

DevOps works with the presumption that Operations are directly involved in the interpretation of requirements and use cases driving the development of solutions.

Including that perspective, this design model for a service presents a high-level abstraction that isolates the supply and demand sides of service production but aligns them within the decomposition and assignments of requirements, deriving the design implementation from the use case through sourcing and into development.

Archestra Service Design Model_v_DevOps

An extended discussion of the DevOps influence on the design model is found on Slideshare as DevOps and the IT Consumer.

All Archestra models and frameworks are subject to revision at any time.


Managing Assets in a Free-Wheeling World

Trillion-dollar dotcoms get trillion-ized by not carrying inventory. Wall Street creates “products” by packaging things that were NOT provided (payments due).  Employees bring their own devices. Lines-Of-Business grab what they want from the external Everything-As-A-Service buffet. And obsession with innovation, fueling the pace of change, makes almost anything in hand at risk of being “obsoleted” far sooner than was ever projected.

Story after story, being in charge of Stuff is an authority that has fallen on hard times.

Or not… A division of Needs has simply taken over from a division of Belongings, and the solutions to Needs are more clearly and vigorously attached to how things are obtained instead of what things are already in hand. It’s a natural evolution, allowed more speed and prominence by technology having finally gotten us past institutionalized scarcity.

It doesn’t mean, however, that assets have just gone away. It does mean that Resourcing is the big issue, and that managing assets is a requirement of resourcing. Resources are assets that have been given an operational assignment. Resources are derived from assets.

This takes place in three interesting scenarios, summarized in the chart here, and detailed in the document linked below it.

Managing Derived Resources

For a full description of why and how resourcing is the lead POV on asset management, see Assets as Resources in the Next Normal.

The provided logic, and the objectives of resourcing, explains how assets apply to innovation, XaaS, collaboration, “freemiums”, services, and many of the other defaults that have collectively and concurrently become “the next normal” of production.

The Big Idea

With a tip of the hat to Maslow, here is a visual compilation of my observations from over ten years in the web/social arena, about people saying what’s on their mind. The diagram is an analogy of psychological prioritization with no intent or effort to be prescriptive. However, it is a result of considering how and why thoughts begin to emerge, become exposed, and persist or not — in an environment where individuals constantly interact in a universe of nearly unrestricted information access.

As might be expected, the hierachy identifies the most essential requirement at the bottom (fundamental) and the most discretionary requirement at the top (aspirational). Although thinking may gain the awareness of outside parties pretty far down in the stack, the further up the hierarchy you go, the more social influence matters.

One sample of the implications of the hierarchy is that ideas may come and go, or keep and lose support, based on whether someone cares enough one way or the other to keep them in circulation. This is an illustration of why “caring” might occur or cease, showing five different levels at which the caring can be challenged or motivated. In retrospect, there is a notable accountability in these terms, of “thinking”.

This model separates the “unrestricted access” within the current information environment into how exposure of the thinking typically appears to be sensitive. The sensitivity is to managed versus unmanaged attention outside of what is already an “internal” reference point for the thinker.

In effect, a thinker has an emotional disposition, at different points in time, and on various levels, that affects whether the thinker’s idea will begin, and/or continue, to reach exposure.

The Social Hierchy Of Thinking



Understanding Solution Implementation

We know that the idea of “solutions” is often abused. We intuitively understand that something called a solution is not solving anything if, for example, it is installed but not supported to any practically useful effect. But we understand why a provider calls something a “solution” even in advance of installation: the provider is pointing at its offer to respond to a designated problem. Then we’ll go on to talk and think about implementing the so-called solution.

But “Implementation” is a crucial concept that requires the determination to distinguish and recognize restructuring separately from installation.

The execution of implementation matures from concept to reality in a deliberate and overt way, with a predefined kind of completed change becoming a new regular element of the organization (structure) of a behavior or of a facility.

An implementation is, therefore, typically visible as a new formation put into effect. The primary responsibility of its finish is to be the platform for actual upcoming action, not to conform to historical prescriptions or precedents. This in turn means that measuring the success of an implementation is done by comparing the meaningful characteristics of the new behavior or facility against the old characteristics.

Installations can be completed and yet have no significant forward impact at all. In contrast, an implementation by definition has a measurably significant impact identified in terms of the behavior requirements or facility requirements; this means that implementations may proceed and progress with an understanding that there is a threshold to be reached and crossed, representing the intentions of the affected client. Thresholds may in fact move over time, in response to the influence of new circumstances developing around and within the affected client. Managerially, the imperative is to keep the current threshold explicitly defined and agreed.

Intention is primarily directional. Alignment to intention is not so much a matter of fixed positions but of consistent appropriate movement. Enabling the alignment is the primary objective of the implementation effort. This also means that “successful” implementations can initially be detrimental to desired results, while still being on the way to desired benefits. The affected client should expect that adjusting to the formation can introduce difficulties that are necessary to sustaining alignment, at the expense of conventional signs of good performance.

Alignment is not ambiguous. The terms and relations that affect alignment rarely need to be invented but they need to be orchestrated and their cooperation or other influences tracked. In the framework of implementation, the regular and distinctive factors of its progression are exposed (providing “transparency” of effort). Directionality, from hypothesis to realization, is identified bottom to top and left to right.

Enterprise Solution Implementation Framework

To reiterate: an important fact of the difference between installation and implementation is that installation projects come to a close, while implementation initiatives do not close; they mature.

The Experience Of The User

Engaging and Supporting the Personalization of Productivity

Individuals in action are simultaneously thinking and feeling; giving and receiving. Understanding the actual meaning of “experience” therefore requires crosses several boundaries and concerns.

It is tempting to catalog issues according to what giving and receiving means regarding thinking; then, likewise, what giving and receiving means regarding feeling. To some extent this cataloging might generate a set of items that are useful in profiling the individual compared to other individuals. But that profiling would still leave the matter of how it makes sense to purposefully interact with the individual. “Making sense” is likely our way of saying, what do we think the chances are that the effects we want would be obtained from the interaction we expect?

Profiling is certainly not obsolete. But meanwhile, with the dramatic rise of powerfully enabled individual actors, two new issues come up.

One is that an individual is more likely to have multiple profiles, variously active at different times and places. Another is that the individual has far more control over when or why they will be profiled, yet the tendency now is for far more voluntary self-exposure. As individuals observe other individuals, they are unpredictably attracted to the chance to pursue similarity or pursue difference.

In the science of relationships, we are generally now needing to observe very closely and react very quickly as a mode of gaining desired interaction with a desired profile. The alternative, however, still exists and is also itself more powerful than before. The alternative is cultivation, which requires strategy, logic, and being thorough. It begins with seeing how individuals generally behave as they try to obtain or cause what they themselves want.

Here we have derived the general model of the behavior that makes up an individual’s sense of personal productivity:

Personalized Productivity1


The model gives a clear view of the significant touch-points in the dynamics of the individual’s experience, along with the reasons to interact at those touch-points. What comes next is the identification of how the individual’s exposure and awareness is co-managed by the person and another purposefully affecting party. The framework for that describes the person’s exposure to support and engagement along with the affecting party’s means of impact in an interaction. The affecting party maps the items in the framework to the behavior cycle of the subject individual person.

Not only does this reveal the commonality of concerns across marketers, managers and teachers; but it illustrates points where peer interaction is able to intervene in a prevailing tendency and alter it. The net observation is that an affecting party supplies the impacts continually as features or properties of an environment in which it want the individual person to appear. That cultivation does not rigidly fix opportunities, nor outcomes; but it does generate histories that can be analyzed for patterns and statistical prediction both of value to future interaction logic and interaction strategy.


Personalized Productivity2


Along with the ability to invoke desirable interactions, cultivation is fundamental to change management and compliance, as they both call for a successfully negotiated agreement on the part of the individual personal actor.