"Knowledge is love and light and vision" Helen Keller.
I love this quote. Love is led by the heart and at the heart of Service Management excellence lies Knowledge.
I'm a huge fan of ITIL (applied with a healthy dose of common sense) however one of my gripes is that in much of the ITIL imagery, Knowledge Management sits out in Service Transition alongside some of our other process friends, Change, Release, Configuration Management etc... My suggestion to you is that Knowledge Management won't drive significant improvement from the fringes, it needs to be embedded into the center, woven into the culture of how we deliver digital technologies and services.
I was watching a Ted Talk recently that really drove home the need for a cultural shift in terms of how we implement knowledge management processes, in an arena far removed from our world of digital service management.
General Stanley McChrystal is a four-star general, the former Commander of US and International forces in Afganistan. In 2003 he commanded the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which oversee's the military's most sensitive forces. As he tried to revolutionize the way the military fused intelligence with operations, General McChrystal began to believe that the culture of 'need to know' and the 'classified' label was misguided and actually counterproductive.
"What we did was we changed the idea of information, instead of knowledge is power to where sharing is power"
"It was the idea that we were now part of a team in which information became the essential link between us and not the block between us"
General McChrystal ends his talk with a powerful statement "I am more scared of the bureaucrat that holds information in a desk draw or a safe than I am of someone who leaks, because ultimately we will be better off if we share"
Watch the full Ted Talk here Stanley McChrystal: The military case for sharing knowledge | TED Talk | TED.com
How much knowledge do your teams keep locked away, hidden in desk drawers?
The case for leading a culture of knowledge share:
I often describe the 'Shift Left' approach to knowledge share, pictured right.
Most organizations have 'operational' work in the form of Incidents and Service Requests submitted by their Customers and that work makes it's way from left to right depending on the complexity, the time needed and the access / tools required to resolve.
Ideally, we would have our great Self Service capability as an option between our Customer and front line teams where knowledge enables Customers to self heal and intelligent routing places the resolving team as close to the Customer issue as possible.
As work passes between the various technology teams, we're adding cost in a number of ways. There's the cost of the Customers loss of service. The longer it takes to resolve, the greater the cost of disruption. There are also the IT costs. Typically, 2nd line, 3rd line and development oriented teams are more expensive to staff that the front line teams, resulting in a higher cost of resolution. These teams should be focused on helping their organizations evolve to tackle the challenges of the digital world and when support work distracts them, there's a different kind of cost in terms of project and program tension and disruption.
The key to the Shift Left approach is developing a culture where the front line teams are empowered with the skills, time and access to tools necessary to resolve as many Incidents and Service Requests as possible. That empowerment can only deliver success if the teams to the right are encouraged to share knowledge and aspire to a guiding principle whereby they should only ever apply a solution once before documenting it and 'shifting left'.
Aside from the financial benefits, this type of approach leads to heightened levels of Employee Engagement. Most folks I've worked with in Front Line teams get a real buzz from helping folk and fixing stuff for their Customers, so anything enabling them to fix more without needing help is an intrinsic motivator. Likewise the more technical team members, generally don't get a kick out of fixing that same incident 12 times in a week, they'd be far happier tackling more complex issues and improvements that require them to learn and grow.
Now here's where the cultural dimension really kicks in. We want to encourage knowledge share but what behaviors are we reinforcing? Are we celebrating and rewarding knowledge share behaviors? Or do we still hand out a trophy to that hero firefighter who was the only one that knew how to douse the technology flames?
What measures do you use today that enable you to say 'great job'. Are those measures easier to achieve by collaboration and the sharing of information or does the solitary colleague win the day?
It's difficult to put hard numbers as to how much you can improve service delivery based on an improved culture of knowledge share, it'll really depend on where you're starting from.
The key is to have a baseline for some of the measures pictured left, so that you can demonstrate that your Knowledge Management program is having a positive impact and by base-lining we'll be able to set some realistic targets for improvement.
Let's talk a little about one of the leading methodologies for driving a culture of knowledge share, Knowledge-Centered Service.
Introduction to Knowledge-Centered Service:
In 1992, a number of prominent service and support companies started the Consortium for Service Innovation, a non-profit organization focused on innovation in the areas of Customer engagement, productivity and success. Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) is one of the better known areas of focus and the Consortium announced KCS v6 earlier in the year.
The broad goals of KCS are to:
- integrate the creation, use and improvement of knowledge into the problem solving process
- evolve content based on demand and usage
- build on collective experience
- reward behaviors of learning, sharing and improving
KCS embraces the theme of placing knowledge at the center by promoting 'inline' use and quality
Where other approaches position authors or subject matter experts as the creators of knowledge, with regular audits to drive quality, KCS strives to democratize authorship with the benefit coming from publishing or improving the quality of an article as quickly as practical after the learning experience.
There's a philosophy at play here that says 'an article buried in an approval cycle is adding no value to the organization, indeed, it is in fact adding cost'.
With any fresh (okay, yes, 20+ year old 'fresh') perspective, comes a need for improved ways to measure behavior change and success. Here are three recommended KCS based metrics to consider as you explore team and individual goals;
- Engagement Ratio:This is a great team target as one of the goals of KCS is centered on content demand and usage. The principle here is that the majority of Incidents should either be resolved by an existing knowledge article or a new article should be created at Incident resolution. Engagement Ratio measures the % incidents that are either linked to or generate new knowledge as a proportion of total incident volume. A high performing team should target between 60% and 85%, recognizing that some incidents are simple enough to not warrant the knowledge creation and that others are complex outliers which are unlikely to occur again - don’t create for the sake of it, create for value!
- Participation Rate: This is an individual measure that focuses on how well someone is participating in knowledge share activities. This metric rewards individuals for creating articles but also for using an article to close an incident (article used does not have to be one of their own).
- Citation Rate: This is another individual metric and is the key indicator of article quality. This measures the use of an individuals articles by others and any improvement feedback provided. It's difficult not to get a sense of pride when you see an article you created used and 'liked'.
For more information regarding KCS, take a look at these resources below;
Wikipedia Sidebar: Since it's creation in 2001, Wikipedia has rapidly grown into one of the largest reference websites. At the time of writing, Wikipedia has over 41 million articles spanning 294 languages. Around 300,000 editors have edited more than 10 times and in the last 30 days, 119,999 editors have performed an edit.
Data from the April 2011 Editor Survey highlights that 71% of editors contribute because they like the idea of volunteering to share knowledge, while 69% believe that information should be freely available. These are deeply intrinsic motivations.
Thank you for joining me on Part 1 of this blog series on Knowledge Management, I'd like to invite you to look out for our next installment where we'll take a look at some of the key capabilities Remedyforce offers to support and enhance knowledge share.
For now I'll leave you with my top 3 takeaways;
- Develop a culture of knowledge share: This will require a programmatic approach and buy in from executive stakeholders. If we simply ask our teams to 'do knowledge' alongside their day jobs, it'll quickly be seen as a passing fad. We have to gain buy in to the idea that knowledge share is how we deliver exceptional service.
- Baseline service and thoughtful metrics: Ensure you have baseline data for the key areas you intend to improve via your knowledge management program. Review your current metrics and ensure goals don't result in colleagues getting mixed messages on the value of knowledge share
- Reward vital behaviors. Look for the vital behaviors related to creation, usage and improvement of knowledge. Extrinsic rewards may have a role to play but focus first on the intrinsic motivators that sustain knowledge share.