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17 September 2010 | Aidan Lawes Blog
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Criticizing ITIL - Part 4
Aidan for the fourth week running follows up and responds to the comments on the misconceptions on how ITIL is positioned and promoted...

Someone was rash enough to enquire whether “you like ITIL, stop at 3 or will there be an upgrade next week?” How could I resist?

What my blogs and the various responses that I have received have crystallized for me is the thought that there are distinct threads to the “criticism of ITIL”: the ITIL material itself, the promotion of it, and the qualification scheme. Sometimes these threads are intertwined; sometimes the criticisms are very focused and specific.

My musings have also led me to seeing people as falling into different categories in a similar way to the Belbin team roles. For what it’s worth, here are Aidan’s ITIL characters.


Defends the indefensible. Refuses, or chooses not, to see the shortcomings in the content or the qualification scheme and robustly deflects all criticisms of either.

Blissfully ignorant

Never heard of ITIL, and in many cases never want or need to. Perfectly happy to remain in this state and eyes will glaze over if anyone so much as attempts to explain it.


Seen it all before. Has no faith in any approach, method, framework or standard. Thinks they’re all just a money-making exercise or a load of waffle from delusional wannabes. Wastes no opportunity to denigrate anything new as merely the latest fad.


Criticizes ITIL for what it isn’t rather than seeking to improve any shortcomings that it has. Often has their own agenda in promoting their own ideas and beliefs, and misrepresents ITIL accordingly.


Not only a believer, but wants to convert the world. Enthusiastically preaches the word wherever and whenever. Sometimes even sounds as if they know what they are talking about, but too frequently merely sounds like a parrot.


Thinks that ITIL is the most wonderful thing ever invented. Believes that organizations can implement ITIL and that doing so will solve all their problems. Decries other approaches and methods as inferior and urges people to seek salvation by becoming ITIL Experts or even Masters. Won’t be swayed from the true path by any argument, however logical that might be.


Not Invented Here. Never going to accept something that was developed elsewhere.


Newly introduced to the religion and not sure what to make of it. Often inexperienced and unable to make a balanced judgment, and therefore tends to believe the word of those deemed to be knowledgeable and authoritative. May evolve in any direction or remain in a state of limited understanding for years.


The organization may have embraced this claptrap, but I’m not buying it. And I’m going to do my damnedest to prevent any significant change happening. If I can’t do it openly, I’ll do it covertly by prevarication, deliberate mistakes, “accidental” misunderstandings, etc.


Doesn’t care whether it’s right or wrong, and may even believe in it at some level, but by heck there’s a buck to be made by exploiting the rest of them. Bucket shop training; labeling the product; dubious product certification; contentious consultancy.


Understands the limitations in the approach and the shortcomings in the qualification scheme. Uses what is valuable together with ideas and tools from other sources to help develop relevant solutions. Works within the bounds to make the best of what’s on offer.


Doesn’t accept things at face value but tries to genuinely understand what it is all about. Queries anomalies and inconsistencies, usually in an attempt to improve matters. Sometimes accused of being negative when in reality the purpose of the criticism is intended to be positive.

Just as individuals exhibit more than one Belbin characteristic, so they can with ITIL.

As for me, my unscientific self-assessment says I’m a Pragmatic Sceptic! 

Any feedback and comments are always welcome!!


17th September 2010

Hi Aidan
In your first part you wrote that ITIL itself is basically ok, if I understood you correctly: “major issue is not really ITIL per se”, While I agree with most or all your criticizes, I disagree with that statement. ITIL is fundamentally broken, it is illogical and uncoordinated. To list all faults is impossible but the incoherent definition of incident, the scrambled problem management, and the requirement of 40+ strategies and policies, should be enough to convince anyone. 

The books should have been reviewed and edited properly. I have heard from many persons that there was really no time for review or that comments were ignored.

Best Regards

Aale Roos


(ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.)

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