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0.3 KCS Adoption Overview

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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.  





Waves and Phases

journey.pngWe 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 – Proficiency

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. 

Viewing 4 of 4 comments: view all
We do our best to avoid the word "pilot" as a synonym for Wave I. A pilot suggests a test, a trial balloon, or a proof of concept--something we won't roll out further if we don't like what we see. One doesn't usually expect business results from a pilot.

Wave I, on the other hand, is simply a first step in a longer journey that has been carefully planned out. We expect to see business results in the relatively near future. Rather than testing the concept to see if we want to roll out KCS "for real," Wave I tests our process design, change management efforts, and technology to see what needs to be improved going forward...because we ARE going forward.

People who think KCS is a "flavor of the month" are much less likely to lean in and do the hard work of change. Avoiding the word "pilot" can help us communicate that the KCS train is pulling out of the station, starting now, and it's time to be on board.
Posted 01:27, 28 Jul 2016
DKay - I understand your reasoning, though in my experience a pilot is usually a validation that the expected outcomes will be achieved, and validating that the systems, processes, tools, people have what is needed to achieve the outcomes? Typically, it is expected you that you will learn, and apply the learnings to the next phase, be it Wave II, early release, etc. Not unusual for a pilot to remain in operation as users don't want to 'give up' the services or outcomes achieved.
Posted 22:20, 26 Feb 2017
DKay and JPCusty - I have to agree with both of you. Perhaps there is a middle ground here. I have seen the term 'pilot' used to describe the first group moving through the launch process. The 'pilot' group then records their learning and suggested tips for the next group engaging (in Wave I). If the word 'pilot' has a positive association throughout the organization adopting KCS, and has the meaning of a 'first group to launch', I would continue with the reference but associate it with 'Wave I'. If the organization has a history of failed projects with 'pilot' the term used for 'let's experiment' and 'fail fast', then I would avoid using the term 'pilot' in association with the KCS adoption phases.
Posted 21:59, 27 Aug 2017
Interesting corollary between KCS’s 4 Phases and the Deming Cycle, otherwise known as the PDCA Cycle.
The letters stand for Plan, Do, Check and Act.
- Plan what you are going to do,
- Do it,
- Check that you achieved your goals,
- Decide on the next Actions.
Then start again.

Same thing, different words.
Posted 05:23, 14 Sep 2017
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