Stepping through the CSI Approach

csiapproach177348740I really like the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) approach. Really, I do. It makes so much sense.

In ITIL Foundation classes (at Global Knowledge), we present the CSI approach immediately following the Deming Cycle. We often indicate that the CSI approach is a series of questions based on the Deming Cycle.

The CSI approach is:

  1. Understand the vision of the business
  2. Determine where we are now
  3. Determine where we want to be
  4. Decide how to get where we want to be
  5. Ask how we keep the momentum going

In my opinion, the CSI approach is the most valuable bit of knowledge in the ITIL CSI book. It works, because it’s a very intuitive method. Here’s what we do at each of the steps:

  1. Understand the vision of the business
    To complete step one, we must determine and understand the high-level business goals and objectives. In other words, we must ask: When the activity/project/etc. is complete, what will success look like?
  2. Determine where are we now
    Step two involves knowing, with respect to the vision, what our current state is. This baseline assessment gives an indication of the current state of the organization with respect to the desired state described by the vision.
  3. Determine where we want to be
    Visions are often high level, nebulous, and not very actionable. Once we know the vision and our starting point, we can break down that vision into specific goals and objectives that we can work to achieve, and importantly, complete in a manageable and measurable time frame.
  4. Decide how to get where we want to be
    Once we have specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives, we can then decide which improvements need to be made and which activities need to be completed to achieve those objectives.
  5. Ask how we keep the momentum going
    With any significant project or organizational change, things will always arise that knock us off track. Additionally, the vision we understood in step one can change over time. When these things inevitably happen, we can’t just throw our hands up in the air and give up. Instead, we must ask what needs to be done so that we can keep moving toward our vision.

The CSI approach is simple, elegant, and easy to follow. When I work with organizations on adopting ITIL best practices, it’s always one of the first things we discuss. We always try to think in terms of the CSI approach and how we must not only understand the vision, but also continually move toward that vision. I encourage you to embrace the CSI approach in all of your ITIL adoption activities.

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2 comments

  1. Michael Dotson Reply

    Just took the latest GK class on ITIL Foundation which differed offering the following for the CSI Approach
    Six (6) questions to be answered from both a business and IT perspective:
    1. What is the vision?
    2. Where are we now?
    3. Where do we want to be?
    4. How do we get there?
    5. Did we get there?
    6. How do we keep the momentum going?

    Which is it?

  2. Michael Scarborough Reply

    Hi, thanks for your question.

    The GK ITIL Foundation course is accredited, which means it is audited by multiple independent 3rd parties to align with best practice as documented in the ITIL core library. The course precisely matches what’s described in the ITIL core library.

    The GK blog posts are unaccredited; we do not typically quote large portions of the ITIL content in GK blog posts. Rather, we attempt to rephrase guidance such that the spirit of the best practice is captured, while respecting intellectual property constraints.

    One thing to consider about ITIL is that the guidance given for the most part is intended to be illustrative and descriptive, rather than a 100% prescriptive statement about how things must be described or done in any specific organization or situation.