The benefits of KCS are compelling. While the basic concepts are quite simple, adoption of the methodology is not. KCS challenges traditional practices in how we think about organizational structure, process and measurements. For most organizations, a successful KCS adoption requires a significant transformation. As a result, a thoughtful adoption and change management strategy is required.
Two important principles have emerged from successful KCS adoptions. First, “go with the flow.” Second, start small, create some success and excitement, and then invite others to join.
We have learned that the best place to start the adoption process is at the point of demand: as close to the customer as possible. The “go with the flow” concept uses the demand for support to drive the adoption. Capturing or framing questions and problems that are presented to level one as a work-in-progress Article draws others in the organization into the knowledge base to add resolutions.
The “start small, create some excitement, and then invite others to join” concepts suggest starting with a small pilot (20-40 Analysts) and create some success and internal referenceability, which in turn will generate curiosity and demand from others to get involved. This will create an environment that draws or invites people into the process. Unlike the traditional technology rollout programs that impose change on people (and which inevitably create resistance), the KCS adoption program is designed to create demand in the organization.
Creating an environment where people see value in KCS and want to learn the practices is key for a healthy and sustainable knowledge-centered organization that will evolve over time and continue to produce value for the Support Analysts, the business, and most importantly: the customers.
The foundation for a successful adoption includes the performance assessment model, workflow, content standard, strategic framework and the adoption strategy. These critical foundation elements are developed during the design session, which we will discuss later.
We cannot overemphasize the “start small” concept. We have never seen a large scale “everybody starts the KCS journey at the same time” approach work in organizations of more than 50 Support Analysts. For most organizations, KCS is a big change and starting small enables us to learn and tune the foundational elements based on experience. It also minimizes the resource impact of coaching during the learning phase.
We call the groups or teams adopting KCS “waves.” Each wave moves through the phases of adoption as they become proficient. The simplest case is an organization of 30 Support Analysts (across levels 1, 2 and 3). They start the adoption as one wave of adopters. As they learn to do KCS, and the knowledge base grows to include most of what they know, they will move through the phases of adoption.
If the support organization was 280 Support Analysts and they all supported the same (or similar) products, then this would be one adoption but would have multiple waves. The initial wave might be 35 – 40 people (the pilot). The second wave might be 100 people and the third wave would be the balance of the organization (about 150 people). Each wave creates Coaches that support the next wave.
A more complex example would be a large organization that supports different products. This would require multiple KCS adoptions with multiple waves. For example, if the company supports both hardware and software, or perhaps operating systems software and application software, the organizational structure would reflect two (or more) distinct groups that have very little interaction with each other. In this case, each group would have their own KCS adoption and each adoption may have multiple waves. Each wave would progress through the phases of adoption based on their proficiency and success. One caveat on this is the move from Phase 3 to Phase 4, as this often requires a majority of the Support Analysts working in a given product area to be ready to move to Phase 4 at the same time. Earlier waves may have to wait for later waves to catch up so the whole support group moves into Phase 4 together.
Determining the waves for adoption is discussed in the Adoption Strategy and Road Map section of this guide.
The adoption phases are based on key milestones along the KCS journey. Each of the four phases of adoption defines the focus and actions for that phase, as well as the exit criteria. The four phases are:
Phase 1 – Planning and Designing
Phase 2 – Adopting
Phase 3 – Learning
Phase 4 – Leveraging
The chart in the next section shows a sample timeline of the four phases of adoption. Each organization moves at its own pace. Large organizations often have groups or waves of adopters at different phases of adoption at the same time. It is important to transition to the next phase based on the exit criteria identified for each phase, not based on an arbitrary, pre-established timeline.