Leveling Up to KCS v6 Standards at NetApp

A KCS in Action Call

Ryan Mathews, Director of Digital Support at NetApp, recently presented on how the NetApp Support Team rebooted their KCS program by lowering effort, nudging for change, and building momentum.

They changed their trajectory with Knowledge-Centered Service by using the KCS v6 Adoption Guide as a measuring stick for program maturity, as well as a way to “level up” on a course for sustained benefit and continual improvement.

Ryan and his team have graciously allowed us to publish this call here.



“If you’re rolling out KCS for the first time, the KCS v6 Adoption Guide makes a lot of sense: it’s projects, it’s phases. But the problem is you need to make sure your team knows this is not an “event.” It cannot be an event because the goal here is to get to Phase 4 – Maximizing and stay there.

We’ve done KCS here at NetApp for many years. So, did it make sense intuitively, if I came in and said, “All right, we need to do an adoption?” Absolutely not. I needed to frame that up. And the way that I framed it up is I said, “The goal here is to put KCS in our DNA.” I think it’s best to think about the Adoption Guide as a lifestyle, not a project.

It’s not a project; the KCS Adoption Guide is a lifestyle.

Ryan Mathews, NetApp

This is not an event; we’re not going anywhere. And so the goal here is to think about the phases more as levels. We want to earn our way to level four and stay there. If we can sustain it, we will stay there, but if we can’t sustain it – if that change that we work so hard to put in place and the systems that we work so hard to make work the way we want them to – if they start to fail us, we will come back down the ladder. That’s what’s essentially happened here. So rather than point fingers, or worry about, “Are you doing real KCS? Are you not doing KCS?” we just said: let’s look at the Adoption Guide as a maturity assessment vehicle and say, where do we fit if we use the exit criteria of these phases? What are we able to say that we do today? And what we found is that after that self-assessment, we were a level two organization. And it allowed some time and space for for self reflection.

Okay, if we want to be a level four organization, we have to get together and not put a plan together that’s time-bound, but put it together based on objective criteria that’s listed in Phase 2 and Phase 3, and figure out how we climb this ladder. And it was an amazing moment, because I think that the team really embraced this idea of, “We’ve done KCS for many years and this is an opportunity to do it different. We’re going to really align to v6 Principles, and we’re going to climb the ladder. And we’ll use this as a way for us not only to climb the ladder the right way, but in a way that we can sustain operations at level four in perpetuity. And that’s our ultimate goal…we aim to be a level four organization.”


If you have a story you’d like to share on an upcoming KCS in Action call, get in touch!

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