Thursday, 26 February 2015

The state of Knowledge Management in the Customer Experience profession

Here is an interesting survey report from Intelliresponse on the status of KM in the customer experience sector. 

Customer experience KM is a subset of KM, related to the provision of knowledge to customers through online knowledge bases and help desks, often supported by dedicated knowledge base software (Intelliresponse is such a software vendor). Good quality KM can provide a self-service customer knowledge base, or enable your customer-facing agents to respond to queries quickly and knowledgeably.

The survey has the following findings
  • Nearly half the organisations surveyed did not have a KM program
  • The main reason for this was that they could not justify the investment, or could not find resources to help.
For those which had a KM program - 
  • The primary use for KM in this sector is (unsurprisingly) customer service
  • The majority of respondents said they still need to learn more and improve their KM
  • Over 70% said the intended benefits have not been realised
  • The most common metric for the KM programs is customer satisfaction
  • The biggest challenge is getting people to use the system
  • Investment in KM is generally growing
  • One third of the respondents use dedicated KM software, 39% still use multiple systems to store their codified knowledge
The customer experience sector therefore seems to be having similar challenges to other sectors when it comes to implementing KM - developing the knowledge habit, embedding KM, and realising the benefits.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A core KM behaviour - deferring judgment

One of the ten key elements of an Organisational Learning culture is Openness, and part of the key to openness is deferral of judgment.

We see this in processes such as After Action Review and Retrospect, where the facilitator ensures that the meeting does not leap to judgment until all voices have been heard and all root causes explored.

We see this also in innovation processes, where all ideas must be examined, as sometimes the wildest ideas hold the most promise.

In the video below, Dr Min Basadur, the creativity guru, explains how we much even defer judgment on our OWN ideas, if we are to be truly innovative.

Defer judgment - never drive your brain with your brakes on.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Old-school KM delivers more value - proven

Knowledge Management started in the 1990s with three main elements; Communities of Practice, Learning from Experience, and building collective Best Practices.  These three elements are still delivering the most value twenty years later.

This is one of the findings from our global Knowledge Management Survey.

Communities of Practice, Learning from Experience and Best Practices are three of the five most popular components of Knowledge Management. As part of our survey we asked respondents about their use of these practices, and in a separate question asked them to estimate (in an order of magnitude reply) how much value their KM program had delivered.

A combination of these two replies allows us to see what value the different KM components add.

The table below shows, for example, the average value claimed by the responders who do not use Communities of Practice, versus the average value claimed by those who do.

Knowledge Management componentPercentage of respondents who say they use this componentAverage value from those who use the component Average value from those who do not use the component
Communities of Practice73%$145 million$9 million
Learning from Experience64%$142 million$19 million
Best Practices62%$175 million$9 million

For all three of these old-school KM components, the "users" claim an order-of-magnitude more value than the non-users.

Old-school KM still drives the value.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Take the road more travelled in Knowledge Management

One of the systems design principles behind the IDEO in-house collaboration system is to "Take the Road More Travelled". This means building a tool that works, as much as possible, the way people are already used to work. 

As IDEO say -

"if a tool requires people to go out of their way to use it, adoption will always be a challenge, no matter how wonderfully designed. Wherever possible, strive to integrate tools into existing work processes -- bring the system to the user rather than the other way around. For example, the IDEO blogging system didn't take off until the team added a program that sends digest emails with new content from the blogs each employee has subscribed to"
If people are used to receiving notifications through email, then link your system to email. Don't expect people to develop a new work habit just to be able to share knowledge, because they won't.

As Samuel Johnson famously said, "Mankind has a great aversion to intellectual labour; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it".

So remove the need to take trouble. Lower the barriers to entry to your Knowledge Management system. Take the road more travelled.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Ideas are like toothbrushes

Ideas are like toothbrushes - everyone has them, everyone needs them, everyone uses them, nobody wants to use someone else's.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Removing waste from the KM supply chain

There is a lot of value on using metaphors as different ways to look at KM, and recently I have gained a lot of value from using the metaphor of a Supply Chain.  Can we use a Lean Supply Chain as a model for Lean KM?

Knowledge has a user - the knowledge worker who needs to make a decision or plan an action - and it has a source - usually someone else's experience. The KM supply chain consists of getting the knowledge from the source to the user in the most effective,  efficient and timely manner.

In the industrial world, much work has been done on the concept of  a Lean Supply Chain - one in which all waste has been removed.  A Lean supply chain is one where components reach the manufacturer "just in time", with minimal additional processing, and in a form where they can be used immediately.

Can we eliminate the waste from our Knowledge supply chain, and end up with Lean Knowledge Management -  where knowledge reaches the knowledge worker "just in time", with minimal additional processing, and in a form where it can be applied immediately?

Let's look at the 7 wastes, and see what we can do.

Waste #1. Over-production—producing more than and/or ahead of demand.  

Over-production of Knowledge is very common in Knowledge Management.  We see this particularly in push-based enterprise social media, where we can be bombarded with hundreds of messages, very few of which are relevant. This blog post describes overproduction taken to the extreme, with massive push of (often duplicated) content resulting in destruction of value, with people spending far more time creating content, than time was saved re-using it. It is no coincidence that Lean Supply Chain is pull-based, and Lean Knowledge Management should be pull-based as well.

Waste #2. Waiting. 

Knowledge Management can be really helpful, but only if the knowledge arrives on time to impact the decision. A lean KM supply chain will focus on the "clock speed" of KM, to ensure questions receive answers as soon as possible, and new knowledge is identified and embedded into process within minimum time.

 Waste # 3. Unnecessary transport of materials.

In our knowledge management world, this really refers to hand-off, and to whether the chain between knowledge supplier and knowledge user can be made as short as possible. Communities of practice, for example, where "ask the audience"-type questions can be asked, and answered directly by the knowledge holder, will minimise the number of handoffs.  With a large community of practice, everyone is at One Degree of Separation.

Waste # 4. Non-value added processing—doing more work than is necessary. 

We often see this in lesson-learning systems, where the work of sifting and sorting multiple lessons or multiple search-hits has to be done by the knowledge user. Far better is a system where the sifting and sorting is done once, at source, by the lessons management team or the relevant subject matter expert. Then instead of each reader doing the work of synthesis, the knowledge arrives already synthesised.

 Waste # 5. Unnecessary motion. 

In KM terms, this could be unnecessary online motion - the need to visit multiple databases, multiple knowledge bases, a separate CoP system, another place for Yammer feed etc. The best and most efficient KM systems have everything in a single portal - the community forum, the knowledge base etc etc.

Waste # 6. Excess inventory— frequently resulting from overproduction.  

Lessons systems jammed with lessons, hundreds of hits from the search engine, knowledge bases crammed with near-duplicate content, or obsolete content, or contradictory content - all of these represent the waste associated with excess inventory. Part of the role of the process owner in KM is to ensure that the knowledge inventory is well managed and free from dross.

Waste # 7. Defects, or the cost of wrong knowledge. 

Wrong knowledge is worse than no knowledge. Any KM system needs to have a quality assurance step, whether this is Community QA of a wiki, or editorial QA of a knowledge base.

The lean supply chain analogy allows us a new way to look at KM, and the 7 wastes give us a filter for improving the way we work. If we could make our KM supply chains truly lean, we could considerably improve the way our organisations operate.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Quanitified sucess story #87 - Fluor

From Inside Knowledge Magazine, this is one of the winning stories submitted by a Fluor employee during its annual ‘Knowvember’ KM awareness campaign. 

"I worked on a process study in Kuwait for dehazing of diesel and gas oil to meet the Haze-2 specification at 77°C. Roughly said, this meant reducing the water content from 1000 parts per million by volume (ppmv) at 135°F [Fahrenheit] to 100 ppmv at 77°C. The client-design basis was to use an electrostatic coalescer and salt-bed drier with a water cooled chiller, to pre-cool the coalescer feed to 105°F.  
"On Knowledge OnLine, we found the salt-bed drier manual. This manual provided valuable information. Among other things, it recommended maintaining an operating temperature in the salt-bed drier at or below 100°F to restrict brine solubility in diesel. 
"Via the Process Community forum we asked for designing and operating experience with the proposed electrostatic coalescer/salt-bed drier design, the effect of operating temperature on the degree of drying, experience with alternative drying processes and advice on the most economical design solution for the given capacity: coalescer/salt bed drier or vacuum drying.  
"Within three days, three responses were received, from Haarlem [Netherlands] and the Calgary [Canada] offices. They provided project references/contacts for each of the different design options considered. The information underlined the strong effect of operating temperature on salt-bed efficiency: at too high an operating temperature the efficiency of the salt bed is eliminated by the brine solubility in diesel.  
"This insight was confirmed by vendor information: “The dynamics of the salt bed is such that it is only 30-35 per cent efficient and at higher temperature the water simply partitions back into the diesel stream.” Based on this information and project references, our recommendations to the client were to pre-cool the diesel/GO feed to 60°F with a chiller before being sent to the coalescer and to eliminate the salt-bed drier.  
"The Fluor recommendation was recognised by the client as a positive improvement. Knowledge OnLine allowed the client to make an informed decision in favour of the new concept for the Dehazing Facility design. 
"Based on the information from Knowledge OnLine, the client asked to visit one of the project references mentioned: an existing refinery. This visit was arranged through the Haarlem office and is now planned for next month.  
"Value for the client: The elimination of the salt-bed drier saved the client money on equipment cost (TIC reduced by €1m) and operational cost. In addition, elimination of the salt bed drier will save a lot of maintenance hassle in future.  
"Value for Fluor: Client satisfaction: The client is positive about the alternative design solution proposed by the Fluor team. They were impressed by the short response time, the quick access of our team to Fluor’s worldwide knowledge and expertise and the new possibilities it opened (for example, the client visit to an operating facility). Our client is so pleased that a new work-order has been awarded to Fluor: a similar study for the other refinery of the client. This study represents a business value of €700,000. Once the feed package is approved, to carry out the job would even fetch a much higher value for Fluor."

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