As my time working directly with you all comes to a close, I wanted to leave you with some parting thoughts on my vision for future of the KCS program; to use as a common thread (if so desired) through your continued collective work growing and maturing the organization:

Everything we do should be rooted in the core principle of trust

You’ve heard me hit this drum beat before: trust is one of the four key principles in the KCS v6  framework and must underpin every decision we make. When we have trust as a core piece of our methodologies, it will guide us to the right decisions for the long term success of the team and program. Trust imbues everyone with a sense of empowerment and autonomy to do the right thing. When we make decisions based on fear, we break trust and push our teams into patterns of avoidance rather than achievement. If we do nothing else in the program, or even our greater lives, making decisions and guidance based on trust will be the most beneficial thing we do for ourselves and everyone around us.

The simple test is to ask yourself, about any process or guidance put in place: “does this support our trust in our teams to do the right thing?” If the answer is no, then it’s the wrong thing to implement and needs to be re-thought.

Don’t lose sight of the core principles and concepts. Everything we do, every choice we make, every bit of guidance we deliver, every process we put into place needs to align with those principles and concepts. If ever we find something that runs counter to any of those fourteen pieces of the framework, we need to sit back and reconsider why and how we can change it to better align for success.

Speaking of… Take this as a future, long term endeavor:

Simplify the guidance

Let me explain; when we create such specific guidance in the wiki, we are training our teams to no longer use their judgment. For so long we have strived in post-sales support to take decision points away from our case-working specialists in the name of efficiency and productivity. This perspective begins  to show up in conflict with some of the core skills necessary for a thriving KCS program to take shape. Yes, we should reduce speed-bumps and remove roadblocks, but we should not do it at the expense of removing decision points from our teams.

KCS as a program requires us to flex that muscle of decision making and using good judgment to do the right thing in every situation. Along with the principles and concepts that KCS v6 provides us to make decisions, we also need to provide the framework and structure within our discrete programs to support our teams’ decision making rather than making decisions for them. It is a very fine balance to ride. When we build wikis or playbooks with very prescriptive processes and workflows, with such specific and detailed guidelines, we are actually doing a larger disservice to everyone in our eagerness to help by telling how to do their jobs, versus helping them learn to make the right choices in their jobs. We end up stagnating the talent in our teams in the pursuit of productivity. (This, of course, leads in to a different soapbox topic on measuring the right things and taking a broader view of success metrics than the myopically driven cases-closed quantifier. But that’s for a different post.)

From a core foundation of trust to build upon, we can simplify the guidance provided and begin to re-empower our teams to make decisions. By providing a safe space, working to remove the fear driving all the questions to help clarify the existing guidance, we will begin to see our teams move towards deeper autonomy and empowerment, resulting in a deeper sense of collective ownership and increased satisfaction with the program’s vision and strategies for self-service. But this is culture change, a mindset shift, that requires time and patience to see progress. Slowly, steadily, iteratively, and with thoughtful support based on trust, we will begin to see those judgment calls and decision points become less and less of a hindrance to productivity and more as an indicator or improved performance and growth.

KCS is more than just a framework or a set of principles – it’s a mindset that must be instilled in (and adopted by) every member of the team including participants and management all the way to executive leadership. It’s about a culture of continuous improvement, where you’re constantly striving to make our content, processes, and guidance more efficient and effective; where everyone feels empowered to contribute their ideas and insights.  One way to foster this culture is by creating a safe space for open communication and collaboration. Encourage team members to ask questions, share their thoughts, and challenge assumptions. By fostering a culture of trust, where everyone feels safe to express their opinions, you can ensure the KCS program continues to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of customers and the organization.

In addition, be mindful of the impact of the KCS program on our customers. At the end of the day, the success of the program is ultimately measured by the value it delivers to our customers. Do this by ensuring that processes and guidance are aligned with customers’ needs and expectations, and that you’re continually evaluating and improving the program to meet those needs.

I want to emphasize the importance of measuring the right things. As I mentioned earlier, focusing solely on cases closed as a metric of success can lead the organization down the wrong path. Work to take a broader view of success metrics, including things like customer satisfaction, solutions delivered, and knowledge reuse. By measuring these more holistic metrics, you can ensure that the KCS program is delivering real value to our customers and the organization.

Finally, I want to express my immense gratitude for the opportunity to work with such a talented and dedicated team. I’m very proud of the work you’ve done, the growth you’ve shown, and the potential you have to take the program even further. I hope that these parting thoughts serve as a guiding light for your continued work in maturing and growing our KCS program. Remember to always prioritize trust, simplify guidance to empower decision-making, and foster a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration. With these principles at the core of everything you do, I have no doubt that you (and the KCS program) will continue to thrive and deliver value for years to come.

With a deep sense of pride for you all.