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The Indian Rope Trick

Posted By Richard Horton, 11 January 2017

How would you explain service management to a quantum physicist?

Recently I thought I was going to have to do this, and mused on whether this would be easier or harder than responding to the usual "what do you do?" icebreaker. I know little about quantum physics and had a little look at the area where this physicist works, in search of clues. Doing this I read about the Indian Rope Trick, and thought that actually, this might be a useful analogy.

In the Indian Rope Trick, you start with something which, if left to its own devices, would prove unstable and collapse. However, as the rope loses its stability and starts to collapse, countering forces are triggered. These result in a correction which takes the rope back to its initial, apparently unstable, state.

This reminded me of what happens in Service Management. What we do varies a lot, and what we focus on is determined by what is necessary to maintain the stability of our services.

To those outside, we are like that invisible force, pushing the rope back to its intended state. The direction the rope starts to fall can vary, and so the countering force required varies in accord with this. The lack of visibility of what is being done is not a problem — in fact, it's what we're aiming for. We want it to seem that our service, like the Indian Rope, is standing unassisted.

It turned out that I'd got the wrong person and my quantum physicist was actually involved in public affairs (Google doesn't give all the answers)! But I found the analogy I'd stumbled across of interest, and one I thought worth sharing.

What do you think of the analogy? Leave a comment below or tweet @ITSMFUK.

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