The Leap of Faith
Many organizations struggle with the ability to implement quickly and successfully, and to deliver benefit. We helped one customer demonstrate KCS success quickly, proving value and supporting their ongoing commitment to KCS.
Like many support organizations today, our customer is under pressure to do more with the resources they have. This includes doing a better job with the knowledge base than they have in the past. Over the last few years they invested in Knowledge Management technology. Still, after creating twelve thousand articles, only 5% of their closed cases took advantage of existing knowledge. They saw this as a missed opportunity.
While looking at how to approach this issue, they considered and discussed using the Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS℠) methodology many times, but they had a challenge: how would they get Support leadership committed to supporting the transformation required by their staff? As you can imagine, the responses were quite familiar, “we don’t have the time,” “how many new engineers are we going to need to hire?” and “we’ve done multiple KM initiatives in the past without much success.”
Finally, one of the biggest executive supporters of KCS said, “We are going to take a leap of faith and commit to KCS, by bringing the leadership teams along while we plan and design the program, as our way of gaining their buy-in.” He proposed that the best way to gain support leadership was to conduct a twelve week pilot wave of KCS to prove its benefits. How could anyone object if there were proof?
Cross Functional Start
Thinking beyond the pilot, our customer also needed a detailed roadmap for implementing KCS across Support. We worked closely with the program manager to pull together a cross functional team including support engineers and managers, technology and process owners, and a business analyst. We facilitated a four-day in-person, KCS Design Workshop where the team defined a plan to get started, with task owners, deliverables, and dates.
Bringing this team of influencers together proved to be a huge advantage for this KM initiative, especially contrasted with previous rollouts. All the stakeholders had hands-on experience doing the work, had the confidence of their managers, and had the respect of their colleagues. Facilitating, our experience also helped this team stay on track, and also gave the program team further credibility. The plans the team developed had more credibility because they came from industry experts and were based on proven ways of doing things.
Focus on Coaching
“Without coaches, KCS won’t be successfully adopted.” We say this all the time, but this customer really listened! The pilot was scheduled for fifteen weeks with an initial team of 32 engineers. The kick off for the pilot started with training a small group of coaches who would be leading the change within the team. The coaches were the feet-on-the-ground change agents for the transformation. Importantly, their leadership supported them. Starting immediately after training, the coaches met each week to discuss what was working well and what wasn’t working and to provide feedback to the program team.
After the first three weeks, data started to demonstrate that coaching was being effective. Key activities–creating new articles, updating existing articles and reusing articles to close cases—remained consistent throughout the pilot, and proved that the team wanted to use knowledge to solve cases faster, and wanted to provide quality knowledge for others to use.
This team acted quickly to address issues and recognize successes. For example, they congratulated Coaches and engineers when they met significant milestones, such as when an engineer received consistent article quality scores for two straight weeks. Five weeks into the pilot, we noticed that no one had been licensed yet. This triggered a coach team conversation about how to assess the licensing requirements – this wasn’t something the coaches had done before. The coaches helped to put a solution into place, and the very next week, our customer started to license their first KCS Contributors.
The team collected a wealth of baseline data before starting KCS. It took time and effort to capture baseline data; while this step is often overlooked or shortchanged, it was time well spent.
Throughout the pilot, we surveyed engineers, managers, and coaches weekly. Week to week the survey evolved so that new data could be gathered. Some of the most meaningful data came from verbatim comments: hearing the personal perspective driving the data adds an extra layer of meaning. We reviewed survey data, and took action on the results, every week.
The time spent gathering baseline data paid off. We were ready to look at results, starting in week one of the pilot, and to understand what we were learning.
Bi-weekly meetings were held with leadership to share results, recognize bright spots of value being created and identify areas that needed more attention. The cross-functional team needed communication, communication, and more communication.
Their Communication Plan addressed many audiences, from executives, manager, the KCS Council and the engineers and coaches, outlining each audience and the “what’s in it for them”, reminders of near- and long-term goals, and achieved results. Because communication happened consistently throughout the pilot, there were no surprises in the results.
Wrapping up the pilot, everyone knew they had done everything they could to make it successful. All participants shared a real sense of accomplishment, and they were confident that they had delivered results that would earn approval for the next Wave. They had proven the value of KCS and had created a sustainable program structure to start Wave II.
Because of the success of the pilot, more participants volunteered for Wave II.