KCS Adoption: Top 7 Tips for Getting Started

Consortium Members and the wider community have a TON of experience implementing KCS to achieve celebration-worthy results.

  • The Member-only Field Guide for KCS Program Management is based on 75+ years of KCS experience among just the 6 contributors of that resource.
  • The years of experience encapsulated throughout the publicly available KCS v6 methodology is much higher and hard to quantify. The equation is something like: 30+ years of collective experience x hundreds of contributors = KCS recipes for success.

While the benefits available by shifting to a KCS approach are extraordinary, the transformation depends on thoughtful planning and avoiding common pitfalls that can dampen results. We have captured the seven most often repeated recommendations from seasoned KCS experts when advising folks who are starting a KCS adoption journey.

1. Principles and Core Concepts are non-negotiable

Much of what is captured in the KCS Practices Guide and KCS Adoption & Transformation Guide serve as examples of how others have been successful with KCS. The KCS Principles and Core Concepts provide the foundation from which we can adapt the methodology to fit our specific environment. When making decisions about program design, KCS Principles and Core Concepts help us determine if we are reinforcing or accidentally conflicting with the methodology, regardless of the application of a Practice or Technique.

This guide is an invitation to success.  While it provides a step-by-step approach for planning a KCS adoption, it is not intended to be “the only right way.”  Our aim is to share what we have learned about what makes for a successful KCS adoption and help you maximize the many benefits of doing KCS. 

KCS Adoption & Transformation Guide

2. A Strategic Framework is essential

The power of a Strategic Framework cannot be overstated. This is the opportunity to be explicit about how KCS helps us reach our organizational goals. All the folks involved have to know why we are doing this – so we can design an implementation that meets our needs and speaks to our stakeholders about what’s in it for them.

3. Collaboration with the right people is key

Involve the people who will be doing KCS in the planning and design of KCS. “If it’s about us, don’t do it without us.” Collaboration should also include anyone responsible for performance management, goal-setting, and even job descriptions to synchronize efforts across the organization.

4. Resist the temptation to over-engineer

When we embark on a KCS journey and develop the recommended deliverables from a KCS Design Session, it can be tempting to try to account for all possibilities and address all use cases. We. Must. Resist. Sufficient to solve is the name of the game; we are aiming for only what it needs to be in order to get started, not everything it could be.

Another way to say this is: design for the most common scenarios and manage exceptions as they arise. By design, KCS is a double-loop process that will self-correct for Continuous Improvement over time. We are never “done” implementing KCS, so there will always be time to add complexity as the program evolves.

Start small! Spend time on getting the first wave set up right, it will save time later when expanding. People need time and space to change, it takes leadership to facilitate that. You may see an initial performance dip, and that’s actually a good thing. It means people are learning. It will bounce back and surpass previous performance fast.

Sander van der Moolen

5. Communicate continuously

Communication, communication, and more communication. Leverage your Strategic Framework to influence: 

  • Buy-In At All Levels: Effective communication ensures Buy-In At All Levels. Take time (perhaps with your KCS Council) to Develop and Communicate a Vision. It also helps to recruit some fellow knowledge champions, in particular your influential knowledge workers, who can echo and reinforce your message.
  • Executive Sponsorship: You must have your senior leadership on the same page and onboard AND they need to be regularly reverberating the value of KCS to your organization. 

6. Coaching fuels sustainability

Long-term, successful KCS programs are sustained by integrated and ongoing coaching. While KCS training is the key to getting knowledge workers started on the path to success, a coaching program provides ongoing focus and support in the workflow, providing opportunities for direct communication about what’s in it for the knowledge worker and the impact of their KCS work. 

7. Change management enables transformation

“Change imposed is change opposed.” Leveraging the KCS Principles and Core Concepts, using a Strategic Framework to talk about the why, inviting the right people to participate, starting simply, communicating with stakeholders, and implementing a coaching program are all steps toward managing the transformation that is a KCS implementation. In addition, there are many excellent change management resources that Members have found helpful during a KCS journey. Remember: this is an ongoing and evolving program, not a time-bound project. Success requires patience and persistence.

Bonus: Tap into the global KCS Community

As a not-for-profit organization funded by generous and forward-thinking Member companies,  the Consortium for Service Innovation is able to publish much of our intellectual property publicly, under Creative Commons License. We also host ongoing events to showcase examples and for KCS enthusiasts to connect with each other.

KCS guidance is continuously evolving. Noteworthy updates include: 

Remember the resources available for KCS guidance! All the Practices, Appendices, Guides, and amazing community here! Remember that you are not alone in figuring out the best approach for designing, launching, growing, and improving a KCS program.

Adam Mullen

Huge thanks to current and former Consortium Members who contributed to this list!

  • Ryan Mathews
  • Jason O’Donnell 
  • Monique Cadena
  • Sander van der Moolen
  • Adam Mullen
  • Dave Stewart
  • Nasir Mehdi

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