…Continued from last week.
- Get ‘em early. Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to get the new people to follow your processes than to get the veterans to change how they do things? We’ve often seen the most successful KCS practitioners, and the best KCS coaches, are people who join the company after KCS launches. So, make sure that the hows and the whys of knowledge sharing are taught early in the onboarding process, ideally in the first week. If there’s training on how to use tools (like CRM or the knowledgebase), make sure that the training goes beyond the mechanics, and really explains the process and its benefits. Your people are smart; they can use the tools. But they need to understand what they’re trying to accomplish with the tools.
- Continually reduce technology irritants. John Ragsdale, Vice President of Technology Research for TSIA, recently reported that, of all the vendor categories he surveyed, knowledge management vendors scored lowest.(*) (I’ve had my own words to KM vendors, too.) At every company I’ve ever visited, literally, service and support staff complained about the technology. Now, imperfect technology is no excuse for not implementing good business process, but as a KM program team you really get a lot of credit and goodwill for improving technology. It’s not always practical to replace the tools, and there’s no perfect tool out there. But by looking at the clever things users are doing, simplifying tasks with configuration and customization, writing some helper apps, and integrating tools better, you can make a big difference in users’ lives, and in their attitude towards sharing knowledge.
- Build on enthusiastic peers. As a manager, if you have an employee who is excited about knowledge management, and one who is reluctant, whom do you spend time with? Many of us inveterate problem solvers immediately want to spend time with the reluctant person, to turn them around. But, just as strength-based leadership reminds us to focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses, so would I encourage you to make time for your most enthusiastic team members. Build on their enthusiasm by recognizing them, and making them peer coaches. Over time, the organization will respond to the positive attention to your early adopters far more than your laggards would benefit from your attention. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Over time, the laggards will either get on board because it’s what the organization is doing, or they (or you) will decide this isn’t the right organization for them. Either way, don’t invest your time and energy where it’s not going to generate a return.
- Measure to improve. Companies love to measure things, and nowhere is that more true than in service and support organizations. But it’s not the measuring that matters; it’s what we do with the measures. Too often, operations reviews are a mind-numbing parade of too-small-to-read graphs, with little or no analysis of the story they tell. Or, worse still, they’re an opportunity to shame middle managers over dips in performance or satisfaction (regardless of whether those dips are within normal variation or not.) Organizational culture is best served when:
- You focus on the important measures (which assumes you have a clear enough strategy that you know what’s important to measure)
- You only present measures that you’ll do something about
- You never present a measure without saying what you think it means, taking time as a group to discuss competing hypotheses as needed
- Measures are used to learn and improve, not to reward and punish
What’s worked for you?
ps – we’ll talk about all this and so much more at the upcoming KCS Foundations Workshop in the San Francisco / Silicon Valley area, October 10-12. Find out more and register.
(*) 2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Support Services: Adoption, Satisfaction and Planned Spending Across 24 Areas of Technology and Services, John Ragsdale, May 7 2012
John Mette says
Gold. We’re about 18 months into our KCS journey and our leadership team just met and discussed issues related to probably 9 of these 11 items that your advice would help rectify. Great stuff David – keep up the good work!