KCS: Stuck in Neutral

A few rambling thoughts on “stuck in neutral” ….

The most common cause of “neutral” in our experience is lack of ownership of KCS by the 1st and 2nd line managers. We often see (especially in larger organizations) that a staff function owns or has too much ownership of the KCS program. While a strong staff function is important for the adoption, the key is getting the 1st and 2nd line managers to understand and own KCS. They are the ones who have to promote and value it with the support engineers. When the line managers understand and own KCS, great things happen.

The best example of this has been Novell. The combination of management training/ownership and the KCS Publisher Certification program for the engineers has made a big difference in achieving new levels of participation and benefit, and they have been “doing KCS” for five or six years.

One element of the management ownership issue is they are too quick to accept the two universal excuses: 1) the tool sucks and 2) we don’t have time. When leaders hold the belief that it can be done… people figure out how to do it. When leaders accept the excuses and/or don’t believe it can be done…. it won’t get done. Every successful adoption has happened in spite of the tools, not because of them. Given the chance and encouragement, the engineers will figure out how to create and maintain content without adding time to the process. But obstacles are only overcome if leaders believe they can be.

It’s often helpful to implement KCS team by team. Pick a team or a product (meaning all the people who support that product globally). Drive KCS understanding and ownership into the management and require KCS Publisher Certification for the engineers Then measure the team (not the individuals) on improving customer use of and success on the web. This helps focus managers and engineers on the outcome – creating value for the customers – not the activities of creating content and linking and all the other dysfunctional measures we often mistakenly use around KCS.

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