Service Management 101 Blog
A blog about service management, outside-in, lean, standards, and frameworks
Canary in a Coalmine
The phrase "canary in a coal mine" is frequently used to refer to a person or thing that serves as an early warning of a coming crisis. Its origin is the use of canaries in coal mining as an indicator for toxic gases.
Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they provided both a visual and audible to danger. Canaries are known to be ultra sensitive. The presence of a toxic gas would first excite the canary, and then kill the bird before affecting the miners.
The canary in the coalmine analogy provides a stark reminder of what is at stake when implementing aspects of an IT Service Management (ITSM) initiative. Humor me.
Consider for a moment the canary represents the latest ITSM ‘must have’ solution in the form of the service portfolio and associated management ‘process’. The mine is the customer or business environment and the economic perfect storm. The cage is ITIL guidance. And industry factors such as Cloud Computing, or the renewed demand for transparency of fiscal decisions or business/IT alignment, the dangerous, poisonous gas.
At stake is the life of the miner, representing the reputation of the IT organization and the success of the ITSM initiative. On a good day, all survive. On a bad day, we lose the canary. On a very bad day, we lose the miner. The perfect storm of the availability of viable Cloud Computing options and the economic pressures most organizations have to work under for the foreseeable future has launched the subject of ‘service portfolio management’ to the forefront of the ITSM water cooler discussions.
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