Lead Users, Agile Development, and ITSM

Lead Users

You know the main point of this blog is really so I don’t forget things I come across or ideas I have. I am sure, that if I didn’t right this one down, I’d forget about it and then “rediscover” it about a year from now.

Anyway, what is a Lead User? And how did I find out about it?

I did some reading on Professor Von Hippel’s site (and of course Wikipedia).

The ‘lead user’ is the person who is using your product/service in a way that the majority of people are not yet. They are trying to solve a problem that the rest of the world doesn’t know it has, yet.

The idea is that you can get innovation breakthrough’s by working with ‘lead users’ of your products/services and see what problems they are facing and how they are working on solving them. You can then perhaps also work with related (but different) area’s to see how they are working to solve similar problems.

If all goes well, you will be ahead of the competition and just as importantly have a better product/service.

Lead Users and ITSM

Are there ‘lead users’ of ITSM? Are there people in  your organization that are trying to use your processes (or technologies built to support those processes) to solve problems that you (and the rest of the organization) are not really aware of or paying attention to…yet?

I know, in my last place, I heard of a Project Manager wanting to link a Change Request to a Project. I didn’t hear this from 10 or 20 PM’s or really from anyone working on projects or anyone in leadership – just the one PM.

But what I did was take that idea to the development team and asked them to include in the Change Request a place where you can put in the Project ID Number.

Boom! Now, you can track changes associated to projects. A few weeks after that, at lunch with the CIO, I bring it up to her that she can now have a report that would link Projects to Change Requests. Instantly she saw value in that and instantly it became a need for the majority.

Lesson: Find “lead users” in your organization. Listen to them. Bring their ideas forward. See how you can test them or, put them in practice quickly without spending too much time trying to make it ‘perfect’.

Agile Development

I’m not going to spend anytime explaining this concept. I’m not a SCRUM Master (what a title…) but I do believe Agile is better than classic/traditional/waterfall.

Now, previously, I described the simple way in which you can track projects to change requests. Is this the ‘best’ way to do it?

No. Clearly not. Anyone can forget to associate the two. They can “fat finger” the number. It isn’t the best method. Is it better than nothing. Yes.

And with an Agile approach to process you can start and in the next ‘release’ (maybe 30, 45 days, whatever) you update it. Maybe it wasn’t a mandatory field at first now it is. Maybe even better, there is a question “Is this Change Request related to a Project?” – if they say “Yes” then you make it mandatory. Oh, even better, why not ask the question, make it mandatory, but it is a drop down pulled from the Project Management technology?

You can make it better and better with iterations.


2 comments on “Lead Users, Agile Development, and ITSM

  1. PM Hut says:

    That’s the first time I hear about lead users. I wonder what are the different strategies that lead users use, and what kind of qualifications does one need to be considered as lead user.

    • From my understanding the only real qualifications are:

      You are using or trying to use a service or product in a way not orignially intended to solve a problem that the majority of people are unaware of.

      An example could be: You have the issue that you are a security guard who works at night, in dark places. You need to have a light that is bright and has a wide angle. Maybe you tape together 2 flashlights in trying to solve this problem. The flashlight makers, or bulb makers, could use you as a “lead user” to develop a new, brighter, wide lense, light weight flashlight. And guess what, maybe Police, Firemen, Miners, all would be potential/likely customers too!

      Another example could be:
      You are a Project Manager for an IT department. You need to track ‘changes’ to scope and ‘changes’ being implemented to the various environments (functional test, load test, integration test, production). You are using Excel to keep track of all this information. However, a product developer realizes that what you are really doing is tracking “request for changes” with tasks (or subchanges) associated to them. What she does is works with you to develop a form with in the ITSM tool to fascilitate the entry, approval, reporting, tracking, of these work efforts that is now seen by everyone and can be easily associated to future (or past) Incidents/Problems and other Change requests. Now, every PM can do this, not just you!

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