Creating a knowledge factory with Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) double loop thinking
There is a knowledge management approach that is seeing rapid adoption: Knowledge Centered Service (KCS). The focus of this proven methodology is on integrating the use, validation, improvement, and creation of knowledge into the knowledge management workflow.
How does KCS differ from a more traditional knowledge management approach? In simple terms, KCS is a many-to-many model while the traditional approach is a few-to-many model.A traditional approach to knowledge management is based on the concept of knowledge from a few for the use of many. KCS flips this view on its head. KCS provides a core set of principles which are controlled by a small group while espousing a much wider embrace of the actual knowledge workers. This promotes understanding and facilitates the application of knowledge principles in daily operations.
You may ask, “Why KCS?” Because knowledge is an increasingly critical component of an effective service portal and there is a little room for error–provide a bad service portal experience and all the knowledge you develop winds up just taking space. With effective knowledge management, you can enable your customers to empower themselves to get the answers they need. For organizations struggling to break the inefficient cycle of 1:1 human interaction and provide effective knowledge management, the KCS approach offers proven knowledge management best practices that can help.
The bigger picture: speed and accuracy in knowledge management
A double loop process, which includes the Solve Loop and the Evolve Loop, is central to KCS principles. Completing the "work tasks" (the Solve Loop) provides the "big picture" (the Evolve Loop). The Solve Loop enables us to understand the potential benefits the collection of tasks provides in the Evolve Loop.
In our last post, we reviewed the Evolve Loop, which is essentially the governance mantle that defines our lifecycle process, quality assurance goals, metrics to determine how we are doing and overall program goals, purpose and communication.
In this post, we’ll talk about the KCS Solve Loop.Figure 1: Support survey results show that 3 of the 6 key knowledge management pain points are addressed by the functions of the Solve Loop.
So, what is the KCS Solve Loop? Simply put, it is the request-response workflow.
Responders (customer support reps) capture their resolution experiences to create a collective memory. A little bit of structure applied in the request-response process can help enormously, while too much structure can be disruptive. Use of the knowledge base and a structured workflow for interacting with it increases responders’ speed and accuracy in solving a request. Access to the collective experience through the knowledge base also reduces re-work, i.e. not spending time solving requests that have already been solved.
There are four KCS Practices that contribute to the creation and maintenance of knowledge in the Solve Loop:.
- Capture in the workflow: while responding to the request, we capture the requestor's context (their words and phrases) as well as the responder's knowledge.
- Structure for reuse: consistent structure, simple templates, and a crisp style improves KCS article readability.
- Reuse the words and phrases entered to search: preserve valuable content that can be used and reused to improve existing KCS articles.
- Improve, reuse IS review: as responders, we take responsibility for the articles we interact with. The knowledge base is our collective experience. If we see something that is wrong or that we do not understand, we have the responsibility to "flag it or fix it.”
Getting users to like it
But what good is KCS, or any knowledge management approach for that matter, if no one uses it? If we are going to build a consistent knowledge design and lifecycle process, we must get it in use across IT – otherwise, what’s the point?
So, the next step is to leverage KCS double loop thinking to create a Knowledge Factory. Here are tips on how:
- Get people from across IT to imagine and build knowledge in support of the products they offer. Who better to do so since these are the people who understand the knowledge that the customers need?
- Give these people the entrée into the knowledge creation process and enable their learning and use of it. This can be accomplished through effective, lightweight governance.
- Provide the tools and guidance on how to author or update knowledge step-by-step when drafting it. Once drafted / updated, it is submitted for knowledge review. This can be accomplished with a simple workflow process.
- Enable the Knowledge governance / committee to provide feedback on what still needs to be done to be compliant with standards – once corrected, the Knowledge is given our seal of approval and promoted to production.
These steps will give those with ideas the freedom to create knowledge while also enabling your organization to ensure consistent outcomes in meeting standards.
Why is this all important? Poor, inconsistent knowledge reflects poorly on us, the IT Service Management pros, because we are the owners of the knowledge in the eyes of our customers.
For more on this topic check out our "fresh thinking" on Knowledge Management in our recorded webinar: we discuss the challenges, the opportunities and a unique approach to building a “Knowledge Factory” right in ServiceNow. And we also demo some of the concepts discussed in ServiceNow.
About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 60 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services.