Happy National Customer Service Week – October 6-10

This one is for you @ITSM_Donna (well, it’s actually From you too… LOL)

Knapp_smallOkay…two questions…

  1. How is it October?
  2. What are you doing for National Customer Service Week?

National Customer Service Week (NCSW), is held the first week in October each year and is designed to raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays within an organization. It is also an opportunity to say thank you to those who work in customer service for a job well done.

So to those of you who are customers / clients / learners / alumni of ITSM Academy… THANK YOU.

And to our talented, dedicated, loyal and hard-working teams… THANK YOU.  Each and every one of you plays an invaluable role in making ITSM Academy a place that is easy to do business with – and that’s something that makes us proud.  #ILoveMyTeam

PS – If you missed out on booking one of our customer service classes, it’s not too early to plan for next year! Customer Service Excellence for the Service Desk Professional is a perennial favorite.

Until your next trip to LisaLand…Happy Customer Service Week!


Would You Look at That!

Lynda May 2013Many thanks to my new friend – Lynda Frederick, MSPM, PMP – for agreeing to share this blog post with me (and you!).  You can find Linda on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/lyndafrederick

I love this true story about a couple named Dow and Nancy.  Dow was busy working on his PhD and his wife Nancy helped out as his part time assistant and typist.  Dow was doing research in the maritime industry, so the couple spent five months in Europe traveling to different port cities and studying ships, ports, and logistics.

On a rare day off Dow and Nancy decided to explore a maritime museum; they just couldn’t get enough ships!  They came around a corner in the museum and saw a stained glass window that was a picture of… nothing!  It was just blobs.  After a brief glance, Dow said “That’s the ugliest thing I have ever seen!” and he proceeded on.






Nancy hung back and continued to look at the window.  There was something intriguing about it and she wondered what message the artist could be trying to send.  Suddenly, she saw it!  It was as if she was standing above a koi pond looking down at fish.  Instead of the silhouettes of fish that we draw as kids with an oval body and a triangle tail, the fish were beautiful blobs that gracefully overlapped each other.  “Would you look at that!”  Nancy called for Dow to come back to look at the window again.

Once Nancy pointed out the elusive koi, the couple stood for a few minutes taking in the beauty of the fish in the window.  When they returned from their research trip, Dow and Nancy loved to tell the story of the fish window.

Here’s a challenge for you.  What do you look at every day?  What do you overlook every day?  Where have you become complacent?  I challenge you to look for something in a new way.  Look for fish!  Find something you can improve or refine or automate or clean up or simply make better.  The fish are there, you just need to look for them.

Until your next trip to LisaLand…Happy Fishing!

2013 The Year of Innovation

At the end of 2012, we declared that 2013 would be “The Year of Innovation” here at ITSM Academy. And I’m proud to say it was!

This year, we’ve concentrated on 2 large projects.
1. my.itsmacademy.com – our Learner Portal
2. GAME ON! An Interactive Learning Experience

fill_the_seat.jpgAs I wrote about a few weeks back, part of the reason we were able to accomplish standing up both of these in a single years was by attaining our Certified ScrumMaster certs along the way. We have morphed from a standard Waterfall project methodology, using Agile instead. That wasn’t an easy transition.

Focusing on Shippable Products and running in 2 week sprints has been great. This has really helped us with prioritization. In an organization our size, self organizing teams makes sense, but appointing 3 individuals to be Scrum Master, Product Owner and then Team Members, isn’t always realistic. So we’ve taken the best of what we learned from Scrum, and have adapted to fit our needs.

An exciting by-product of this, is that it really helped us focus on our next Line Of Training – Agile ITSM.  We have 4 new classes which we are adding early 2014:

  • DevOps Overview – 4 hour virtual class, introducing concepts of DevOps. January 24 and February 28 (with many more options to come), virtual classroom.
  • DevOps Fundamentals – 2 day certification course, this course provides attendees the ability to formulate a high-level strategy and action plan for adopting DevOps in their organization.  April 7-10, virtual classroom.
  • Certified ScrumMaster – 2 day certification course, which we are delivering in partnership with a leading Rep of the Scrum Alliance.  March 17-18 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Agile Service Management: Applying Scrum to Process Design – 5 hour virtual class. Coming soon.

So, with our 10th anniversary behind us (how is THAT possible?  Oh, Jayne Groll wrote a great blog about our first ten years…) we continue to grow, morph and change.  Which I’ll be honest, is something we are proud of 😉

Until your next trip to LisaLand…Happy Innovating!



Why I Love My Team

Apparently a theme for my blog will be, “Great advice I heard or read many (many) years ago, and I can’t give credit because I don’t actually remember where I heard or read it, yet it’s become an important part of my leadership style.” Because once again, I want to talk about a sentence that has had a powerful impact on me….

“When you die your job will replace you in a month or two. Your family never will.”

I think most (normal ;-)) folks would translate to, “Don’t prioritize work over family,” and there is a lot of that in there for me….But, as a leader, I also use it as a reminder that we spend a lot of time at work  – did anyone see the Jellybean Video on Youtube?

As a business owner I believe we have a responsibility to create the healthiest work environment we can. We encourage our team members to prioritize their family events. We provide them with all the flexibility we can to attend kid events, spouse events, etc. We believe in mental health days. As the manager I know, when I give the best of me to my employees, they give the best of themselves back…funny how that works, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s not the smartest business decision Jayne and I have made, because there is a high level of risk in this. But we hire people who become our work family.

Our very first Full Time Employee (and for any other small business owner’s out there you know why I capitalized those letters!) just celebrated her 9th anniversary. By March, well over 1/2 of our staff will have been with us for 5 or more years. I’m proud to say that most have been hired for new positions as we grew the company.

Yes, over the 9+ years the Academy has been in business, we’ve had a few folks leave the team to pursue other opportunities. We still miss them, tell stories about them, show pictures of the fun we had together and the things we accomplished. But there have been very few who have left.

How cool is that? #ILoveMyJob

We wrote this our first week in business. Our Company Philosophy starts with…

We believe people are our greatest resource – and count on each member of our team to be a superstar who, collectively, creates a high performance team. We treat our people with respect and learners as guests in our home.

Read the rest of the ITSM Academy Philosophy.

plaqueSeveral years ago, one of my team gave me a plaque for Christmas that says, “We all believe in each other, and THAT’s what makes us family.” That plaque is on a coffee table right outside our flagship training room in Ft. Lauderdale. It serves as a reminder to me that each and every individual who works here at ITSM Academy are my second family.

Without them, I could not function. Without their intelligence, love, support, generosity, ideas and courage, we would not be what we are.

Many times, learners have commented about the sign. Usually, it’s along the lines of thanking us for the culture we’ve built. Our wish is that our Alumni feel they now are part of our extended family, because that’s how we feel about them.

So here’s my advice.
If you going to spend such a huge percentage of your life at work, do things you love, with people you love. And if that’s not what your work life is like, then have courage to make a change. Either go find something else, or fall in love with your job again. Spend some time figuring out what it is about your job that no longer makes you happy, and take steps to get back to your “happy place”.

As a leader of an incredible team, nothing makes me happier then when someone comes to me with ideas and suggestions of changes they would like to see take place. Without that kind of dialog, team member can become disgruntled and negativity can spread like the plague!

So my thanks and love to my business partner, our rocking teams and Alumni. You guys make my life so rewarding.

Until your next trip into LisaLand…#LoveYourTeam!


Intellectual Rug Burn (IRB)

At the #SMFUSION13 Conference, I had a scary allergic reaction to some food at a restaurant. Three Benadryl later—no kidding—my team put me to bed. The next morning I was more than a little foggy when I attended Glenn O’Donnell (@glennodonnell) session, and I heard him say, “Intellectual Rug Burn”. That peaked my interest so much that I tweeted it, quoting him, and asked to share a frosty beverage that evening to learn more.

After the session, I asked Glenn about it. Here’s how that went:

(Hugs all around and my hearty congrats to Glenn for knocking it out of the ball park and then…)

Lisa: “You really intrigued me with that expression, ‘Intellectual Rug Burn,’ what did you mean by that?”

Glenn: “Excuse me”?

Lisa: “When you said, ‘Intellectual Rug Burn,’ what did you mean?”

Glenn: “Lisa, I said intellectual grunt work.”

Lisa: “Well, I heard what I heard…and then I tweeted it.”

No, that’s not embarrassing at ALL to have had that conversation with a lead analyst at Forrester…

To which Dhiraj Gupta (@dhiraj4772) quipped, “You have to come to the Cleveland LIG and present on Dirty ITSM.”  Sidebar, we are actually thinking of doing that, but in a way that’s humorous and informative without being offensive or too risqué – so if you have ideas email or tweet (@ITSM_Lisa) me.

Of course, we laughed a lot about my new favorite Fusion expression. Since I am an above average idiot, I shared the story with many of our industry friends. We are all in agreement, it’s a great expression, but what does it mean?

I’ve been thinking a lot about it. So I Googled it…I don’t know if I was surprised or not, but there are zero results found on the phrase…but it’s Awesome, because I’m coining it, and seriously thinking of registering the mark on it—LOL.

I asked my husband, but he got all political in his response, so I’m not going down that path with you.

So, my (perhaps still Benadryl fogged) brain started really thinking about it…Rug burn is something that hurts later, but while you’re getting it, you are so “involved” that you don’t notice it’s bad for you.

Add the word Intellectual with that, and one definition could be any conversation you have, with yourself or others, that feels good while you are doing it, but hurts later…

When put in that context, the first thing that comes to mind is gossip, whether it’s grousing about a co-worker, a competitor or an organization. It might feel cathartic to have the conversation, but what good ever comes from negativity? Wouldn’t it be better if our conversations centered on identifying problems, dissecting possible reasons, suggesting solutions and taking actionable steps to resolve the issue?

And I guess that’s my take-away from all of this. The next time I find myself having a conversation that I will later categorize as IRB, I’m not going to do it. Instead I will identify, dissect, suggest and take action! And I challenge all of you to do the same.

Because #ILoveMyJob, I don’t want any negativity in my culture, and let’s face it people, “The fish stinks from the head down.”

Until your next trip to LisaLand…Happy Conversing!


The Beauty of Buying

Once, many (many) years ago, I heard or read a sentence that has had a powerful impact on my professional life.  I’m sorry I don’t remember where it came from, because I would love to give credit where it is due, but I just don’t remember….

But the truth in this sentence is powerful in its simplicity.  “People love to buy stuff, but they hate being sold to”.

Think about that for a moment.  Close your eyes and recapture the excitement you felt the last time that you purchased something you were excited about.  The adrenaline rush you got when you made the “buy” decision.  I don’t care if it was a new purse, a car, a techno-gadget, etc.

Now, rethink that experience if you were being hounded by a sales person, who was trying to shove it down your throat.  You might not have purchased it.  If you did, their bad actions would have diminished the thrill of the purchase.

Our Vision at ITSM Academy is, “To be the first call every ITSM professional makes when contemplating training”.

Our Mantra, “It’s easy to buy from us”.

I think you see where I’m going with this.

For those lucky enough to have jobs centered on helping folks buy stuff – when done correctly – we get to share in their purchase high.  As an added bonus for us here at the Academy, we get to assist them in buying something that will actually help improve their jobs.  Even better, when they take the best practices back and start the cultural change needed to morph their IT shops into a service organization, we have the ability to positively impact thousands of people each year. 

How cool is that?  #ILoveMyJob

And all of us are sales people.  Even if your job has nothing to do with sales or marketing, you spend part of your day selling something to someone.  Whether it a new idea to your boss, convincing your husband to try a new restaurant, your kids to eat their vegetables, (I could go on and on, but I won’t).  I am convinced that there is at least one daily interaction in everyone’s life, where you are selling to someone.  So remember, don’t sell it to them, help them buy it 😉

Until your next trip to LisaLand…Happy Buying!


Welcome to LisaLand

People often say to me, “you should write a book”. As a matter of fact, three peers at the itSMF Fusion conference said it to me this week. And of course, my immediate reaction is, “I don’t have time to write a book”… and I don’t. But, one of our keynote speaker’s – Cindy Solomon – talked about courage. And I realized, I can be courageous and start a blog. It’s not a book, but I think my random moments of inspiration are better suited to short blogs anyway – LOL.

The plan is to write about the things I know… process improvement, motivating teams, using humor and storytelling skills to foster relationship, etc.

Check out my professional profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.