KCS with Friends

A guest post by Laurel Poertner, Director Knowledge Services at F5 Networks.

I often think about how the people-side of KCS® is what makes it special.  When you read how to implement a KCS program in the Adoption Guide or you reference how to start the Solve Loop in the KCS v6 Practices guide, it doesn’t talk about the relationships you build when you go through a knowledge-sharing culture transformation like KCS.

KCS v6 Practices training at F5 Networks

This should be the number-one focus when you are launching a KCS program.  Everything else will fall into place, but when you do KCS, your colleagues become friends, adding a depth to your vision, strategy, and purpose that makes KCS more meaningful and successful.

In my ten years of implementing, consulting, teaching, and learning KCS, the relationships that have come from it are some of those that I hold most dear.  When you listen to the stories of a program manager struggling to get more knowledge workers bought into the vision, or of support managers trying to enable coaches the time they need to coach when resources are already constrained, you get to know who people really are.  People are wholly capable, innovative, creative, and compassionate.  They want to do the right thing and be a part of something bigger than themselves. 

Measuring the wrong thing stagnates cultural transformation

However, managers often limit employees to their job description’s responsibilities.

It further limits people when goals are set on activity measures that are in direct conflict to the outcomes the organization is trying to achieve. Counting activities is not enlightening. I can hear Greg Oxton, former Executive Director of the Consortium for Service Innovation, saying, “Most companies are not worthy of the talent they employ.”  To be worthy of your employees’ talent, you need to allow people to expand beyond job-described task lists and activity metrics.

This is why KCS is so refreshing and such a great catalyst to transform a culture:  As people start to leverage their collective knowledge in the form of a knowledge base containing just-in-time solutions to known and often repetitive issues, it frees up knowledge workers’ time to branch out, expand horizons, and take charge of their own career paths.

Promoting collaboration and success builds community

Focus on what promotes a culture of collaboration and shared success. When you hear stories about a coach who had a breakthrough with their coachee, a support engineer who published their first article in a matter of minutes, or an engineer who studied for weeks to pass the KCS v6 Practices certification exam and finally saw the word “PASS” on the screen–this is the stuff that matters and needs to be shared. 

Then, when you can share these stories with the external KCS community across all types of industries, you develop a bond that is hard to describe to people in organizations without this kind of trust-driven culture. Knowledge work becomes much more than a job. It becomes a place where you gather with friends to achieve a set of goals together, and it enriches your life. KCS becomes the community.

What a gift it is to do KCS with friends!

About the Author

Laurel Poertner, Director Knowledge Services at F5 Networks, Certified KCS Trainer, and long-time Consortium for Service Innovation contributor, is a passionate leader who synthesizes people, process, and technology to build cultures of trust, sharing, and learning. Connect with Laurel on LinkedIn.

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