The SIAM Revolution – Prioritizing mental Health in Service management

By Daniel Breston

After fifty-three years in IT, I have contributed to and used many common frameworks and tools associated with service management. In 2017, I learned about SIAM (Service Integration and Management) from Claire Agutter, and I’ve been an advocate ever since. SIAM is the only one that indicates how to integrate your organisation’s services with your staff, how you work, your strategy, and the vendors you rely upon.

Let me put it this way: the stream of value from your organisation to your customers is an ever-changing flow of success and challenges. Every stream involves multiple people and processes, including suppliers and governmental agencies. SIAM helps you create a holistic view of your stream, allowing you to focus on the safety of work and the experiences of staff and customers.

Fifty-three years in IT, and never have I seen more IT people suffering from anxiety, stress, depression and burnout. I was drawn to SIAM because this framework allowed me to mitigate the impact of the villainous BIG4. This article is for those who want to learn how SIAM can help overcome BIG4, creating a safe working environment for the digital organisation you want to be.

Goldfinger and the BIG4

Almost everyone agrees that Goldfinger is an iconic film, no matter what Bond you prefer. The movie reminded me that at its heart, Goldfinger epitomises SIAM. Goldfinger (the customer) had a strategy and governance model to achieve an outcome delivering value. Goldfinger needed the expertise of others to fulfil his dream. Each provider understood their role and had input into how their services would aid the goal. Goldfinger acted as the master planer or integrator, but he could just as well outsource that task. Goldfinger knew the expected quality and designed a value stream showing the service integration needed to make everyone rich. Goldfinger even had a process to offboard that provider (ok, eliminate) and replace them with another if the value stream became affected. However, the management style of Goldfinger introduced anxiety, stress, depression, and burnout as one of his vendors was the BIG4!

SIAM overcomes the BIG4

What is the BIG4? How can this villain undermine your people-focused organisation strategy with processes and tools that encourage value and great experiences?

Anxiety: Goldfinger customers, staff and partners were more than just worried. Goldfinger wanted perfectionism while avoiding the truth of what was happening to his plan. His team became apprehensive and fearful, knowing that this was the only way to ensure they could potentially benefit from any success or avoid being fired (literally).

Stress: Goldfinger’s relentless demands and breakneck pace created an unhealthy environment of worry, unease, irritability, infighting and governance avoidance. Decision-making was affected as no one wanted to admit that the plan was flawed and the outcome for all would be disastrous, leaving the team in disarray, unemployed or worse.

Depression: Goldfinger ignored how people became disengaged as their motivation began to suffer. Providers and staff who once contributed wholeheartedly to the cause began to miss deadlines, become apathetic, stopped solving problems, and let the competition (Bond) ultimately win.

Burnout: Burnout is when you are almost depleted of energy and can no longer contribute to the workflow necessary to keep your business in business. It is that point of futility and giving up, just like Team Goldfinger did. Good leaders recognise this and step in, but Goldfinger also suffered from burnout and missed all the alerts that said his plan was doomed.

Goldfinger needed others’ assistance but failed to manage the success that depended on his integrated team. A poorly led stream of work encourages BIG4. SIAM has a set of practices, including leadership and workflow, to overcome BIG4 and help keep the stream healthy and on course.

8 Principles to Overcome BIG4

BIG4 can destroy your organisation. But if you perform it under the guidance of the SIAM Framework and blend these eight principles into your SIAM strategy, you can avoid the mistakes made by Goldfinger.

1. Respect

Value the autonomy and influence of team members. SIAM strives to create a flow of work that provides constant feedback and transparency. More than that, SIAM encourages people to say, hey, we need help, or this isn’t working. For example, a SIAM leader might schedule regular check-ins with team members to gather feedback, address concerns, and ensure everyone feels heard and valued.

2. Representation & Inclusion

The digital world is a diverse set of people, cultures, processes and tools. Respect for that mix is paramount to a successful digital and SIAM introduction. Using practices like Value Stream Mapping, Kanban, collaboration, and issue management allows the customer organisation and suppliers to voice their opinions so that the integrator team can improve the flow of services. The impact is staff retention, reduced misunderstanding (stress and anxiety), reduced work via automation and assurance that the outcome delivered will be valuable.

3. Continuous Learning and Experimentation

Look at what happened to Goldfinger as various forces wanted to stop him. BIG4 crept in, and the mental health of staff and providers suffered. But what if they had a way to learn and trust each other so the plan would work no matter the obstacles?

SIAM embraces change, as the stream can remain safe by learning from challenges and opportunities, even those still being improved, like AI or having to respond to customer demands. SIAM encourages regular retrospectives where teams discuss what’s working and what’s not and how they can improve their processes and collaboration. If the people in your stream see that leadership is willing to learn, experiment and pivot, then BIG4 can be beaten.

4. Barrier Removal

A big problem for organisations is managing contracts and their supposed value over time. Lock-in or long-term contracts limit the organisation’s agility. BIG4 begins to occur as people can no longer rely on flexible scheduling, the ability to work from home, or tools, processes and suppliers that fit the organisation’s purpose. Reputational risk is minimised as digital practices and skills introduce cloud, cyber-security, and meaningful XLAs to keep your stream barrier-free.

5. Clarity of Purpose

Are people in your stream often wondering what they are supposed to do and by when or why? Do they worry about what will happen if they fail to miss a deadline or if the quality is less than expected?

SIAM aids in the introduction of creating clear, measurable objectives for each team or project and ensuring everyone understands how their work contributes to the larger goals. The mental health benefit of clarity is immense, as the labour is performed in an atmosphere of psychological safety.

6. Thoughtful Communication via Actionable Outcomes

BIG4 will exist. Accept that, and you can design SIAM as a collaborative work model based on inclusive language, organisational strategy, technical topics, obstacles or any other issues. Outcomes are not dreams. Outcomes are actionable objectives that everyone in the stream strives to achieve. As the stream becomes polluted, SIAM provides an internal and global group of knowledgeable people to help purge the stream of BIG4 or other issues.

7. Psychological Safety

Leaders can model vulnerability by admitting mistakes and encouraging open dialogue about challenges and lessons learned. SIAM can assist by using the integrated workflows and tools to highlight BIG4 issues. Stickers on Kanban or VSM boards are an example. We want people to take risks but within an agreed guardrail of safety.

SIAM changes how you think about service design, creation, provision, and improvement. Appropriately done, SIAM develops a workflow of harmonious individuals using tools and processes that make sense.

8. Proactive Support

In IT, we typically think of support as technical. The seven principles mentioned add a mental health dimension to your support model.

There are many other practices to follow in a SIAM model, but your organisational goals are in jeopardy if you don’t care for your people and providers. Think of Goldfinger!

Beat the BIG4 via SIAM

Raise your hands and say that you are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression or burnout, and you are toast. Your career is over. No more fun work or big projects!

SIAM integrates your organisation’s services by looking at three aspects: people, process and technology, in that order. Your organisation relies on multiple vendors working seamlessly with your people and technology.

SIAM is a skillset at every level and part of your organisation, from modern contract and problem management to XLAs. More importantly, by ensuring that the 8 Principles of Mental Health in IT are part of your strategy, you can be assured that SIAM will be welcomed.

SIAM is a way to a safe work environment. By adopting SIAM and incorporating these principles, organisations can expect numerous benefits, such as increased employee satisfaction and retention, improved collaboration and productivity, and better overall service delivery. The positive impact on the mental well-being of IT professionals translates to the overall success and sustainability of the organisation.

If you’re ready to take the first step towards a healthier, more resilient IT environment, consider contacting Scopism for guidance and support on your SIAM journey.


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Scopism and Claire Agutter for their unwavering support and guidance throughout my journey in SIAM. Their expertise and dedication to the field have been invaluable in shaping my understanding and advocacy for this influential framework.

This article was written with the assistance of AI Claude OPUS.

I created the 8 principles of Mental health in IT by adapting the research from the field of autism by Jessica Dark (Frontiers | Eight principles of neuro-inclusion; an autistic perspective on innovating inclusive research methods (

Finally, I want to acknowledge the countless IT professionals who have shared their experiences and struggles with me. Your stories have been the driving force behind my mission to bring attention to the mental health challenges in our industry and advocate for change. Thank you for your trust and courage in speaking out.

About the author

Daniel Breston is a 53-year veteran in IT. Daniel has performed, managed, and coached every role in IT, from computer operator to CIO, across the USA, UK, and EU. Daniel is an ex-board member of itSMF UK and a Fellow of the BCS and PRISM. Daniel is now on a mission to encourage the IT industry to acknowledge the rampant mental health issues it has and do something about them.


More articles...