The Solve Loop includes the issue-solving workflow and represents the primary activity of the responder. Responders capture individual resolution experiences to create a collective organizational memory. A little bit of structure in the issue response process helps enormously, while too much structure is disruptive. Use of the knowledge base and this bit of structure increases responders speed and accuracy in solving issues. Access to the collective experience of the organization through the knowledge base also reduces costly re-work, i.e. solving issues that have already been solved.
Knowledge (articles) and the knowledge base are the output of the double loop KCS process.
There are four KCS practices that contribute to the creation and maintenance of knowledge in the Solve Loop:
Capture - capture in the workflow: while solving the issue, we capture the requestor's context (their words and phrases) as well as the responder's knowledge. As tacit knowledge becomes explicit in the context of use, it becomes part of the article. (Tacit knowledge is stuff we know but don't know we know, until someone asks.)
Structure - structure for reuse: consistent structure, simple templates, and a crisp style improves KCS article readability. We can identify existing KCS articles and their relevant elements quickly to reduce the problem solving cycle and ensure that new KCS articles build on and integrate with existing knowledge.
Reuse - the words and phrases entered to search should be preserved. They are valuable content that can be used and reused to improve existing KCS articles. Or, in the event a KCS article does not exist, the phrases used to search become the beginning of a new KCS article. Searching the knowledge base is part of the issue resolution process. "Search early, search often" ensures that we are not solving a problem that has already been solved and that we benefit from the collective experience of the organization.
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." If we are confident in the correction and we are authorized with a KCS license, we should fix it. If we are not confident or licensed, we should flag it. If this sense of ownership is developed, reuse becomes review. We constantly review and improve the KCS articles that are being used.
For most organizations the Solve Loop practices are not natural. Our traditional performance measurement practices have not promoted collaborative behaviors—the assessment of contribution has been focused on the individual. In many cases, individual assessment promotes competition, not collaboration. Stack ranking of employees, for example, encourages a competitive attitude that does not promote sharing, improving, or reusing the collective experience captured in the knowledge base.
Many organizations create a hero mentality when they reward the "dragon slayers" or those who time the "diving catch" just right. These organizations communicate a clear value proposition: "you are valued for what you know." If the organization values people for what they know, there is no hope for KCS success. KCS success requires the organization to shift the value proposition to the individual to be, "we value you for your ability to learn and your ability to help others learn." If this becomes the value proposition, then we are encouraging the behaviors of collaboration, sharing, improving and using. This value shift requires a new performance assessment model outlined in the Performance Assessment section.
We do have good news: most people do collaborate. Fortunately they do the right thing in spite of the traditional support structures, measures and linear processes. With KCS we can begin to evaluate the value of collaboration through the sharing of knowledge. The knowledge base becomes a collaboration space.
In the next sections we will walk through the eight practices of the Solve and Evolve Loops in detail.