The Guiding Principles of ITIL 4



One of the key concepts within ITIL4 is the Guiding Principles. First introduced as part of the ITIL Practitioner and modified slightly in ITIL 4, these basic principles provide guidance for every decision you make regarding the products and services you provide and how you use your Organization and People, Partners and Suppliers, Information and Technology, and Processes and Value Streams. These four areas are something referred to in ITIL 4 as the Four Dimensions of Service Management. So, let’s look at the 7 Guiding Principles and how they are used.

Focus on Value ensures that every action taken, every decision made, is aimed at creating value for your stakeholders.  That begins with first understanding who your stakeholders are and the way in which the services or products you provide help them to achieve the outcomes they need. The level of which they can achieve those outcomes determines the value they perceive in the service or product provided. Notice I am using the word stakeholders here because you must create value for all your stakeholders, not just the user or consumers of the services but other stakeholders like the organization itself, the business and business owners or shareholders if you are a public company. 

Start Where You Are means considering what is already available instead of starting from scratch. To do this, you must first understand where you are by analyzing the existing state and then determining what can be leveraged to create value.

Progress Iteratively and with Feedback. Deming’s Plan Do Check Act Quality Model has long been part of the foundation of ITIL. The Progress Iteratively with Feedback principle speaks to this by breaking down work into smaller, manageable, yet significant initiatives that require minimal effort but can be used to gather feedback before advancing to the next iteration. The Agile development methodology is built around this with the concept of scrums and minimum viable product.

Collaborate and Promote Visibility focuses on removing silos and building trust. You can only do this when there is transparency and information is shared across the organization and really, with all the stakeholders. Working in silos has historically proven to be inefficient due to redundant or overlapping work and missed opportunities.

Think and Work Holistically is all about working as an integrated organization where all the activities and the role of that activity in meeting the vision and producing value are considered. Every piece of work should be directed toward meeting the end goal and effort must be maintained to ensure that all of the Four Dimensions are taken into consideration as you determine the best path to that goal. 

Keep it Simple means just that, simplify complex work by eliminating processes, procedures, services, actions, metrics, anything that does not add value and allow the stakeholders to achieve their desired outcomes. This principle is shared with the Lean and Lean IT methodologies and supported by many of the concepts and practice within these methodologies.

Optimize and Automate looks at optimizing quality and consistency by first optimizing to achieve the efficiency and effectiveness needed and then automating work to minimize human intervention and with that the opportunity for human error.

While a key part of ITIL 4, these Guiding Principles can be used in many other areas. I personally use these in everyday life to make sure I am focused on the right things and consistent in my approach to what is important to me and my family.



About the Author
Chuck Spencer, Flycast Partners ESM Practice Leadis a certified ITIL Expert and trainer with over 30 years of experience in IT Service Management. He holds additional certifications in Organizational Change Management, ISO 20000, Cobit, and Scrum and is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *