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7) Sufficient to Solve

Keep it Simple and Appropriate for the Intended Audience


Sufficient to solve: it doesn't have to be perfect to be valuable!

As it relates to knowledge articles, the concept of sufficient to solve is based on two observations:

  1. It is very difficult to predict the future value of what we learn from our interactions
  2. 80% of what we capture will never be reused

Our goal is to capture what we learn in a way that is good enough to be findable and usable by the intended audience.  We want to do this in a way that is efficient for both the responder and requestor.  Capture the experience in a simple structure or template. Describe the issue in a bullet list format using words and phrases that represent complete thoughts or ideas.  Sentences and paragraphs are not required. A bullet list is easier for the author to create and easier for others to read.   


We can capture the experience with minimal effort and then let demand for that knowledge drive its improvement or expansion. In doing this we are not spending time editing an article that may never be reused.  The articles that are reused get additional attention because in KCS reuse is review. 


The concept of sufficient to solve or "good enough" applies in different ways to the Solve and Evolve Loops. In the Solve Loop, "sufficient to solve" applies to the knowledge article structure and writing style.  In the Evolve Loop, it applies to the level of detail provided by the content standard and the process. In both cases we are addressing the question of quality; how good is good enough?


"Sufficient to solve" for the the Evolve Loop relates to the observation that organizations frequently over-engineer their content standard and workflow model. There is a tendency to make them everything they could be instead of just what they need to be.  We need a content standard workflow that is as simple as possible and sufficient to get started.  The double loop process enables us to continuously improve the content standard and the workflow based on actual experience. Over time, the content standard and workflow will become exactly what they need to be.     


"Keep it simple" should be a regular test as the KCS Council defines the foundation elements for the KCS adoption, and remain as a test as the organization progresses on the KCS journey.  Doing so will increase the organization’s ability to adopt and sustain KCS. 


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Re: "80% of what we capture won't be reused," I see a fairly broad range of percentages here. I wonder if 80% is a typical number? I would have guessed 50% won't be reused for a high complexity organization, and lower for a higher volume environment. Have we formally collected this data from members? It might be a worthwhile exercise.

This ties into our long-running conversation about expiring content that isn't being used. If the number really were 80%, that would make me more aggressive about automatically expiring little used or unused content.
Posted 21:59, 13 May 2016
I find that the observation that knowledge is created to be "findable and usable by the intended audience" can sometimes make people think they should violate the core idea of Sufficient to Solve. Sometimes, people create personas that they feel articles should be written for. Frequently, they imagine an intended audience that is less sophisticated than the current requester, and who needs more information and details.

I try to be clear that, in the Solve Loop, the "intended audience" is precisely the requester to whom the knowledge worker is responding. There's no need to guess what someone else might need. If you agree, this might be a useful point to add.
Posted 22:07, 13 May 2016
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