The UK itSMF was having a twitterchat last night on the #itSMFbig4 hashtag. During the interesting, but fairly frenetic and disjointed experience that is a twitterchat, I thought of this as a possible idea when chatting to James Finister @jimbofin, so twitterchats can certainly produce a productive interaction.
This is the idea, in a bit more detail. A competition would be set up, called the ‘Service Olympiad’ run by and sponsored by the global itSMF organisation – or it could be set up with the BCS, a business school, SFIA or ISACA, or the Open Group, or, indeed, a combination of these and others involved with services, such as the Taking Service Forward initiative. Maybe a company would be set up just for this.
The ultimate aim of the competition would be to raise awareness of the importance of services and help improve the skills being developed for those who will be governing, managing and operating the delivery and consumption services in the future.
Schools, Universities, Colleges and Business schools would be invited to register, for a fee (all the work to set this up would cost a bit). Every institution that registered would form a team, a bit like ‘University Challenge’, which would work together on a scenario set by the Olympiad team. A panel of experts would judge their submissions and the second round would be competition between the top seeds from the initial submission. There’d be a third, and possibly fourth elimination round. Then the final would involve the top two teams competing in a live event. They’d give a presentation to a team of experts, representing the board of a fictional company, and the presentation that convinced the board would be the winner.
The sponsors would find worthwhile prizes for the winning team, and the other finalist, that, as well as the odd desirable item, like an iPad, would include an apprenticeship with a company, or a year’s study at a business school or similar.
Teams would be drawn from students reading business studies (MBA students might be eligible – but that would have to be thought out carefully), hospitality management, computer science, logistics & supply chain management and other studies that involve services at their core. Maybe even law, accounting and auditing.
The team competitions would involve business simulations with a scenario to which they need to produce business cases and service strategy, design and transition plans. Something like this one: http://www.theitsmreview.com/2013/07/consultant/
It might make sense to pilot this in the UK, as part of the #itSMBig4 skills initiative, but I think, in an ideal world, most itSMF chapters could run an Olympiad in their country, with the final being a global event – not that would be good publicity!
Elimination events like this are good for generating excitement and interest, but there’s the problem of all the good and enthusiastic teams that only make the first or second round. It would be a pity for that to be the end of their interest. So I think it would be good to have an individual event too, an essay writing competition, to run alongside the team event, open to all entrants, with the winner being a member of the judging panel of the finals (as long as there was not conflict of interest, of course!).
The judges would be looking for creativity, inventiveness and style, naturally, but also, well grounded understanding of the organisations, their values and requirements. Teams would have to be able to convince that their approach would get past the various gatekeepers between them and the board, so it would involve some evidence of negotiating skill, collaborative consulting and some insight into how organisational management works.