“Chickens go in, pies come out.” – Service management, ITIL®4 and Chicken Run

Chicken Run was the excellent Claymation film from the year 2000 that introduced us to a determined band of chickens and their “great escape” from the prison-like farm where they were raised, in an attempt to avoid being put into an automated chicken pie-creating machine. It was the genius (although incredibly sinister) Mrs. Tweedy who owned the machine, describing its use through the immortal line – “Chickens go in, pies come out.” Yes, Chicken Run is the perfect analogy for explaining service management concepts. A service creates value for the customer by facilitating their outcomes without them having to manage the risks and costs associated with the creation and delivery of the service. The management of that service requires having the right people, processes, technologies and third-party relationships so you can deliver the service. This will allow the customer to get the job done and create maximum value. They don’t want to know how the process is completed inside the pie machine. All they need to know is that “Chickens go in, pies come out.”

ITIL is the most widely used service management framework globally. ITIL4, the most recent edition, is guiding organisations towards value creation through easily applicable advice, guidance and principles to follow in the day-to-day management of services. You’re about to find out how chickens, ITIL and customer value creation all go hand in hand.



The customer of my customer is my friend

A deep understanding of your position in the value chain will always aid in providing the best possible service for a customer. If you’re aware of your customer’s goals when using your product or service, you can work with them towards that most favourable outcome – value co-creation. Between the planning and cyclical improvement of your service lies many steps, so working with the customer to build a better picture of their needs is vital. They provide you with the vision, you handle the nuts and bolts.

Back in the world of Chicken Run, the teachings of ITIL4 allow us to more easily imagine a value chain. The pies being made by Mrs. Tweedy and her pie machine aren’t being manufactured for the fun of it – a supermarket has likely been in contact to place an order. The pies create value for the supermarket when they’re sold on to the customer, that’s basic economics. However, the supermarket shoppers will only buy the pies if they’re right quality (high on chicken content) for the right price. So how does Mrs. Tweedy create the most value for her customer, the supermarket? She delivers the required quality at the right price of course! She defines how to turn a chicken into a pie, step-by-step with as little waste as possible. She then automates the pie making activities using the value stream she has defined. This keeps costs down and allows for maximum use of the chicken resource. The efficiency of the value stream inside the machine turns the chickens into the ideal pies for the supermarket, who will be happy that they can sell the bakes on to their hungry customers.


Adopt, adapt

For anyone who’s familiar with the film, you’ll know that the chickens pull off a daring escape from the farm after destroying the pie machine and seemingly maiming Mrs. Tweedy. Now, if your entire process is obliterated and your CEO is *ahem* out of action, it would be fair to call the situation a catastrophic business failure. It’s clearly a ridiculous example, but you get the point.

Following a more adaptable business framework could have made Mrs. Tweedy’s pie business far more resilient to the issues that arose. Admittedly, a gang of ruthless hens is not normally a built-in risk when providing a service, but no analogy is perfect. The point is, ITIL4 is an evolution of previous iterations in numerous ways, one of which being its approach to adaptability. This adaptability spans both resilience and the ability to respond to changing customer demands. Your organisation is encouraged to think in terms of outcomes, not just processes. Work backwards, if the customer needs pies to feed to the hungry public, what actions need to be completed to meet that outcome? What specifically needs to happen inside the pie machine (or the very heart of the service value chain, seen in the diagram above) will be evaluated to determine its efficiency and value creation.

ITIL4 differs from ITIL v3 in the way that it’s a value framework, not just a process framework. The ability to apply the ITIL4 framework to your business context will give guidance over any situation you may find yourself in. ITIL4 comes equipped with 7 guiding principles to inform decisions based on a handy set of guidelines. Maybe Mrs. Tweedy would have had a better outcome is she, say, progressed in an iterative manner, gaining valuable feedback on her project with every step along the way. Or perhaps if she had collaborated with her partner looking after the chickens a little bit more then the riot could have been avoided. These guiding principles are just one of the many facets of ITIL 4 that aid in identifying improvements, offering suggestions for actions that can really bring the most value out of any service.



If you’re having problems with malevolent chickens who are eroding your ability to create value, then get in touch today! We’re no fowl experts, but we do know that ITIL4 is the answer.


ITIL® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.


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