ITIL 4 Foundation Certification Notes: 7 ITIL Guiding Principles

[ITIL® 4 Foundation Study Notes] This chapter provides an overview of “how the ITIL® guiding principles can help an organization adopt and adapt service management” for ITIL® 4 Foundation Exam which accounts for 6 questions on the exam.

ITIL® 4 Foundation Exam Syllabus

Learning Outcome Assessment Criteria ITIL® Book References Bloom’s Level No. marks

2. Understand how the ITIL® guiding principles can help an organization adopt and adapt service management

2.1 Describe the nature, use and interaction of the guiding principles

4.3, 4.3.8



2.2 Explain the use of the guiding principles (4.3):

  • a) Focus on value (4.3.1 –
  • b) Start where you are (4.3.2 –
  • c) Progress iteratively with feedback (4.3.3 –
  • d) Collaborate and promote visibility (4.3.4 –
  • e) Think and work holistically (4.3.5 –
  • f) Keep it simple and practical (4.3.6 –
  • g) Optimize and automate (4.3.7 –

4.3, 4.3.1-



7 ITIL® guiding principles

A guiding principle is a recommendation that guides an organization in all circumstances which allows it to integrate different working and management methods within service management of the organization.

  • Focus on value – Everything the organization does should link back, directly or indirectly, to value for itself, its customers and other stakeholders
    • need to understand service consumers, their perception of value, map outcome to value and understand customer experience (CX – total functional and emotional interactions) and user experience (UX – just focus on usability and aesthetics)
    • needs to maintain a focus on value in day-to-day operations as well as improvement projects
  • Start where you are – to understand the current situation thoroughly to consider if anything can be reused / built upon
    • make an inventory of current services, processes and methods and measure the performance in an objective way
  • Progress iteratively with feedback – by organizing work into smaller, more manageable sections that can be executed and completed in a timely manner, the focus on each effort will be sharper and easier to maintain
    • feedback helps to understand value perception of stakeholders, demands, opportunities and risks
    • working iteratively allows more flexibility to respond to changes
    • going small and going fast
  • Collaborate and promote visibility – working together with a shared goal to remove silos internally and externally
    • need to understand priorities, flow of work, bottlenecks, resources utilitization
    • use different communication methods/types to effectively communicate with different stakeholders
  • Think and work holistically – nothing stands alone, the services/outputs need to work in an integrated way to handle activities of the organization as a whole to focus on the delivery of value
    • holistic thinking and working through collaboration and communication
  • Keep it simple and practical – always use the minimum number of steps to accomplish an objective with outcome-based thinking
    • designed for the majority and create handling rules for exceptions
    • doing fewer things better for quick wins
  • Optimize and automate – to make something as effective / useful as it needs to be through optimization first and use technology to perform steps consistently with little or no human intervention through automation
    • need to optimize iteratively and continually monitor the impact of optimisation/automation with a focus on value

Conclusion: What’s needed for the ITIL® 4 Foundation Exam

This ITIL® 4 Foundation study note includes:

  • an overview of the nature, use and interaction of all 7 ITIL® guiding principles


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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