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According to McKinsey, 20% of your workweek is spent looking for internal information or trying to get a hold of someone who has it. An employee-facing or customer-facing knowledgebase seems like the most logical solution to this problem, however the way we currently implement them clearly isn’t working. 

The Problem

TSIA’s vice president research, technology and social, John Ragsdale, reports that TSIA’s 2014 KM Survey shows that 39% of support organizations have had three or more customer-facing KM systems. If you think that’s bad, it is much worse for employee-facing KM systems. A total of 48% of support organizations report being on their third, fourth, fifth, or more, employee-facing KM systems. “Rip and replace” is becoming a way of life for many organizations.

The top three reasons for these failures are:

1. Fixation on technology alone to resolve the issue.

 You must first focus on people and processes, and then technology.

2. “What is in it for me?” is not properly addressed.

Who wouldn’t want productivity gains of up to 40% and getting a new person up to speed nearly 70% faster? Front-line teams understand this more than you’d think, as so much of their time is wasted searching for information. 

Resistance is most likely to come from mid-level managers who are stuck between the new world and the old, usually because measuring and valuing collaboration and sharing of knowledge is much harder than counting billable utilization or Net Promoter Scores.

Fortunately, there is plenty of help available. For starters, if you want to know how to change measurements from “activity-based” to “outcome-based,” start with Klever’s acclaimed “Measures, Metrics and Madness” paper. If you want to know what metrics to look at without your eyes glazing over, be sure to also check out “5 Metrics to Assess your Knowledge Management Program.”

3. “Shiny object” syndrome.

All too often, knowledge management is seen as a “launch and leave” project. Bring in some consultants, throw in some training, and soon you’ll be off to the next shiny new project. Unfortunately, this isn’t a recipe for lasting success. Ask anyone what the most difficult part of embedding the behavior of sharing knowledge into your organization, and they will tell you it is sustaining it. It is a journey, not a destination.

The Solution

The thing is, for knowledge-sharing to stick, people have to want to share information, and it has to become part of how they do their job, not something that is done later. (Tweet this!) If people accept that everyone is going to share information, then everyone is responsible for improving every piece of information they interact with. It turns out that if enough people follow very simple guidelines each time they interact with information, you can get extraordinary results.

If you are looking for information and have to ask someone for it, capture it in a format that is easy for others to find and in an easy-to-update format. Think in complete thoughts, not complete sentences. Sign up, for free, for the Klever Community & Library for a terrific example of a template that is both simple to fill out and easy for others to find.

If you find information that meets your needs and makes sense in the context you are trying to use it, by all means, use it. If it needs tweaking, then either flag it for review or fix it based on your workflow.

If everyone follows these simple behaviors every time, it is amazing how fast information will be kept up to date and used.

How Do You Get People to Change Behaviors?

For inspiration, we looked at the fields of behavioral science and behavioral economics. Dr. Fogg, at the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford, has articulated the following formula:

Changing Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Trigger

Motivation: You have to be motivated, but the motivation for sharing information is very different for sales and professional services or HR than it is for tech support.

Ability: Just being motivated to climb Mount Everest isn’t going to get you there. You need training, equipment (maps, oxygen tanks etc.), guides, and much more. In knowledge management, this is where processes, tools, consultants, and training comes into play.

Trigger: If you are trying to stop drinking too much alcohol, you probably like to be notified before the second drink that it is time to stop drinking, not after the fourth drink. You need a trigger at the right time.

About Klever

Klever has a unique, proven approach (tools, methodology, and collective wisdom) that combines behavioral science insights with practical, proven techniques to rapidly bring knowledge-sharing behavior into an organization. It has proven to increase productivity by 30% to 50% within three months with the people and tools you already have. 

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Phil Verghis

About Author Phil Verghis

Phil Verghis is the CEO and co-founder of Klever, a TSIA Consulting Alliance Partner, and has won numerous awards for knowledge sharing since the early 1990s. As vice president of infrastructure and support at Akamai Technologies, he founded the customer support team and ran the global network (15,000 servers), operations (66 countries), and IT teams during a time of massive growth and profitability, and during the dot-com crash. During his time with the company, Akamai went from $0 in revenue in 1999 to over $200 million in revenue in Q1 2004. Prior to Klever, he was a trusted advisor to service and support executives around the world with The Verghis Group. Phil has an undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC.

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