Technique 3.2: Seek to Understand What We Collectively Know
Searching during the request-resolution process helps ensure we do not spend time and effort resolving issues that have already been resolved. It also helps us resolve new issues by providing access to the broader experience of work on similar problems.
We may even discover someone else is actively working on the same or a related issue. This is the value of having Work In Progress articles visible to all who work in a given domain. At an organizational level, this technique is a major way we benefit from the collective experience that is captured in the knowledge base.
Search early and often ... but not forever. We should stop searching when the search has been refined a few times, the description of the issues is complete, and we have collected a few characteristics about the environment that are believed to be relevant. If at this point the search response is not providing anything of value, we should move to the diagnosis phase of issue resolution.
Correct searching techniques and making the judgment on when to stop searching is one of the skills Coaches focus on. While it sounds funny that we have to teach people how to search, it is a skill that knowledge workers must develop in the context of the environment in which they are working. Google has ruined us in terms of searching skills. The average number of words entered in a Google search is 1.5. But the Google search algorithms have the advantage of millions of searches a minute. No organization we know of has even a fraction of the traffic that Google has. In KCS, the more context we give the search engine, the better the search results. This is why we have to teach people how to search.