L&D: Push-Pull Knowledge Management Systems –Part 2

Stage 1: Building the Business Case for “push-pull KMS”

I started writing this article – now a Blog Post – series in fall 2000 taking issue with what I had been reading about KMS in journals and popular magazines and hearing about at conferences. The nature of some of the KMS efforts worried me in that it seems out of control. It feels like TQM all over again, where we went prematurely after continuous improvements everywhere, without regard to return on investment (ROI).

Note: This Post is almost the same as the 2000 article. Some language and graphics have been updated.

See Part 1 from last Sunday – here.

Knowledge Management Systems

KMS is typically defined as something along the lines of knowledge objects captured/maintained/ administered to leverage the enterprise’s explicit and tacit knowledge. One scary thing is that there is a lot of press about how to better enable subject matter experts (SMEs) to create these knowledge objects that will be stored in a knowledge repository (an “e” warehouse of sorts).

My view of KMS is that the only content to be placed in any knowledge repository should be deliberately aimed at key target audiences, but then stored in such a manner to enable other target audiences to access and utilize it.

I label this push-pull KMS.

Push-KMS is when enterprise leaders deliberately target certain processes and target audiences for KMS treatment. Then their needs are addressed, and knowledge products are produced (using good ISD methods) and deployed (pushed) to them. These knowledge products can include

  • Best practices
  • Lessons learned
  • Procedures
  • Job aids/EPSS
  • Templates
  • Example plans
  • Example documents

The goal for providing the knowledge products is to help performers avoid/eliminate/reduce “reinventing the wheel” or “starting from ground zero” for each new performance effort. That makes business sense to us!

Pull-KMS is when other, nonkey target audiences tap into the knowledge repository and pull the content to meet their needs. Note that not all of their needs will be met, because they weren’t “targeted” by the enterprise leadership.

KMS should ultimately serve the shareholders, or why bother? If it doesn’t positively affect ROI, economic value-added (EVA), and the bottom line, then don’t do it.

One way to positively affect the ROI and EVA equations is to better target the KMS efforts to ensure an ROI for every component resourced, developed or acquired and then administrated and deployed, and then maintained, in a forever cycle, until someone pulls the plug—on the one piece of knowledge or on the whole system.

And that might happen if and when it is determined that the KMS doesn’t have a sufficient return or enough economic value-added to warrant continuing. It either pays its way, or it’s stopped.

Overview of “Building the Business Case”

The business case is a sales document. Depending on the ultimate reviewers’ propensity for reading deep narratives, or tables of data, or looking at pretty charts and diagrams, you need to get across a credible story about how KMS can return more than it takes and that the costs for not doing anything/something are also significant.

The goal of KMS has to be to protect and improve the enterprise, or why bother? Why should the enterprise leadership want to bother? If you can’t answer that, you won’t get anywhere . . . hopefully, for the sake of the shareholders.

Bottom-line Considerations

We’ll start with a review of the bottom-line considerations for KMS: financial returns on investments and economic value-added.

Financial Returns on Investments and Economic Value-Added

After all, you wouldn’t spend your own money on a bad investment, one with little or no return. Nor would you spend it for “reasonable returns” forecasted that just require way too many stars to align perfectly, or that have too many uncontrollable facets that could end up being quite problematic.

So how do you talk to the people who represent the owners whose money we are talking about?  You talk to them in the common language of business. How to “spend a buck and make 12 back.”  That’s what they want to hear. If you don’t tell them that, then you must expect that they’ll just have to trust you.

If you can, talk first about the costs of nonconformance (CONC). These are the costs for being screwed up, or for not being as perfect as your competitors are currently or will be in the future. What kinds of costs could be saved? What kinds of revenues would be enhanced? How much for each?

Then present the costs of conformance (COC). These are the costs to get straightened up, or more perfect (in a world statistically devoid of zero-defects) than your competitors—either now or later.

If you gave them the COC first, that would probably scare them! But then if you can show them an even scarier CONC, they’ll have no choice but to protect the business. They’ll have to go for the gold ring. But you don’t get gold by chasing every KMS topic, template, and performance aid possible. You get the ROI by targeting short- and long-term ROI and EVA where you consider both first costs and life-cycle costs.

Enterprise Politics and the KMS Governance Board

The old saw is “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

Like many TQM efforts, we suppose many KMS efforts won’t get too far off the drawing board before being quashed by reasonable people protecting themselves and their organizations from runaway programs that have much promise but little punch. Wise business people have reason for hesitancy, even fear. Promising programs have turned well-operating functions into poor performers due to distraction from the real goal.

Getting all of your key decision-makers and stakeholders (enterprise executives and other leaders from IT/HR/Operations/etc.) into one forum to get them to consensus is necessary. If you don’t get them to consensus early enough, you’ll live in ReWork City with your KMS plans. Or you’ll be run out of town on a rail when they discover what’s really involved and what the costs will be/are.

Round ’em up and head off their issues at the pass.

The KMS Governance Board

This group of executives and leaders of the enterprise need to take charge of KMS to protect and improve the enterprise, on behalf of the owners (the shareholders). They should target mission-critical and strategic endeavors for KMS treatment and not let the KMS effort run amuck or run aground. They should keep the IT and HR leaders from subscribing to the notion of “build it and they will come.” That might be true, but who then will keep it all up-to-date, or doesn’t that matter? What happens when best practices no longer are? Who pays for the administration and the maintenance/clean-up? The shareholders do.

If you don’t get consensus on the needs and returns for KMS, you’ll battle this issue forever. Getting everyone on the same page is important (or in this case, on the same pages as your business case).

A business case is necessary to document all the words/thoughts/numbers that are easily misconstrued if left to verbal discussions. Documenting the KMS plan and rationalizing it all in a business case makes for fact-based decision-making versus opinion-based decision-making.

Gathering Inputs for the Business Case

The data you need to gather includes the following:

  • The forecasted “returns” to be gained from the KMS effort in terms of financial gains and strategic gains
  • The probable costs for infrastructure implementation
  • The probable first costs for content capture (analysis, design, and development in ISD terms)
  • The life-cycle costs for both content and infrastructure
  • The risks and potential costs of not doing anything at all

The KMS Business Case Outline

There are many structures and depths for business cases. The trick is finding one that will work for you in your situation.

The best one for you would be one that resembles any formerly acceptable, pre-existing, previously used “structure and depth” at your enterprise. Get a copy of recent business plans and business cases and try to mimic the format, content flow, and level of depth that works where you work.

Stage 1 Gate Review/Kick-off Meeting

After the business case has been finished, you need to review it with your Governing Board. One suggestion is to preview the case with each member (or at least the key decision-makers and influencers on your board) prior to the formal review. Allow no surprises, for yourself or others.

See Brian Blecke’s article “Selecting and Managing a Project Steering Team” on page XX regarding the Project Steering Team. It’s just like the Governing Board needed here.

Next Post in This Series

In our next Post, Part 3, we’ll look at Stage 2.

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L&D: The PROs and CONs of a Facilitated Group Process for Analysis & Design

If Speed & Quality Are Both Important

Then use a Facilitated Group Process for both Analysis and Design of your Instructional Development efforts.

You’ll even determine early whether or not Instruction will adequately address the Business reason for the effort: train New Hires or Address Performance Problems.


And you’ll avoid the gapped Content that comes from working with one SME – or a series of SMEs that are collaborating with each other in your efforts.


Master Performers can help you document the Performance Requirements. Who else would know – but those already doing the work to a level of acknowledged Mastery?


Master Performers can help you be most accurate.


Master Performers can help you be most complete.


Master Performers can help you be more appropriate in what gets covered – and what is not necessary.


For speed and quality…


But there are costs…


And with the guidance of your detailed designs – they can also help you better with Development.


A Past Post on this:

A Few More Resources

For Free…

CAD – Training Mag – 1984 – 6 page PDF – the first publication about Curriculum Architecture Design via a Group Process – published in Training Magazine in September 1984. Original manuscript (30 pages) – How to Build a Training Structure That Won’t Keep Burning Down.

Models and Matrices- NSPI PIJ -1984 – 5 page PDF – the first publication of the performance and enabler analysis methods for ISD, from NSPI’s (ISPI’s) Performance & Instruction Journal, November 1984.

ISPI Masters Series Article – lean-ISD – PIJ – 2001 – 14 page PDF – written as a companion piece to my 2001 Masters Series presentation at ISPI, this provides the background and an overview of lean applied to ISD – Instructional Systems Design – in the 5 methodology-sets of my PACT Processes for Training, Learning and Knowledge Management. Written in 2000, published in ISPI’s Performance and Improvement Journal in 2001.

Perf Modeling & Enabler Analysis – HR-Com – 2003 – 17 page PDF – an online publication at HR.Com in 2003 covering the analysis of both Performance Competence Requirements and the Enablers – part of my ISD (PACT) and Performance Improvement (EPPI) methods.

Modeling Mastery Performance and Systematically Deriving the Enablers for Performance Improvement – by Guy W. Wallace, CPT – Chapter 11 of the Handbook of Human Performance Technology – 3rd Edition – 2006.  This methodology was first published in this 1984 article in ISPI’s (then NSPI’s) PIJ in November 1984.

Performance-based ISD – ISPI PX 12-part Series – 2007 – 122 page PDF – an update in 12-parts to my 1999 book: lean-ISD – which covers my ISD methods: The PACT Processes for T&D, Learning and Knowledge Management. Published in ISPI’s PerformanceExpress during the 12 months of 2007.

For a Fee…

PACT 6 Pack B

For info on these 6 books and more, please go – here.

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L&D: One Riot – One Performance Improvement Ranger?

A Client of Mine In the 1980s Had a Favorite Phrase

One Riot – One Ranger.


His theory was that whenever one of the business units had an issue (problem or opportunity) – all it should take was one person to go in and sort it out and fix it.

I wasn’t sold. But he was my client.

It was funny as he hired me to conduct over 20 projects over a 12 year span – and my methods were always – assemble a team – and facilitate them to conduct the planning, analysis, design and development.

He even traded additional consulting work for me conducting additionally deliveries of a program where I had delivered the Pilot Test session.

One Ranger – or the Right Posse?

I’ve been dealing with Consultants in the Training/Learning/Knowledge Management business since 1979. Most acted as Lone Rangers.

They’d conduct the planning, analysis, design and development by themselves.

They attempted to understand the situation – big picture – and the micro details and nuances – which I always felt was problematic.

I certainly felt that I would be incapable of quickly learning the big picture – and the micro details and nuances – even after months and months and months.

That’s why I gravitated to what eventually became know in my circles as the Group Process.

A Facilitated Group Process


I wrote about my first experience in a Group Process in 1999 about my 1979 experience:

Teaming for T&D GWW 1999 – 5 page PDF – on my story of inadvertently creating a team – out of frustration with too many revision cycles for a video script I was writing –  for training development back in 1979 – and liking the approach for using a Group Process to shorten cycle times and improve the quality of the output.

Then in 1984 I co-authored two articles about using the Group Process for Design (of what is now known as Learning Paths) and performance-based Instructional Analysis:

CAD – Training Mag – 1984 – 6 page PDF – the first publication about Curriculum Architecture Design via a Group Process – published in Training Magazine in September 1984. Original manuscript (30 pages) – How to Build a Training Structure That Won’t Keep Burning Down.

Models and Matrices- NSPI PIJ -1984 – 5 page PDF – the first publication of the performance and enabler analysis methods for ISD, from NSPI’s (ISPI’s) Performance & Instruction Journal, November 1984.


And Then There’s the Badge

Which should represent demonstrated Competence – and not passing some Knowledge Test.

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L&D: ADDIE Is Not a Design Methodology

ADDIE Is An NPD Framework

It can be used for Planning and Managing projects. It can be used well, or poorly.



Without Analysis and Design – Just Doing It – in terms of producing Performance Support or L&D products – won’t likely transfer and impact performance.


I’ve been using the following framework since the early 1980s.


Another layer of detail of my MCD framework of ISD Methods – Modular Curriculum Development/Acquisition – is portrayed below.


The next level is covered in my books – and in hundreds and hundreds of references regarding my PACT Processes methods for ISD.

Check the Reference Tab at: http://www.eppic.biz.

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L&D: 10 Steps to L&D Content Development for Performance Impact

Performance Impact – That’s What It’s All About

In my view anyway.

Here are 10 Steps adapted from my ISD methods…


These could all be accomplished in one meeting – depending. More likely in 3 meetings. Sometimes more. It depends on the nature and length of the content, the accessibility of others besides the Analysis/Design/Development Team of Master Performers. Etc.

I should all start with a sanctioned plan and designated Master Performers – whose say so – should be acceptable to all other stakeholders. To avoid ReWork due to wrong focus, missing content, etc.


Step 1-

I use a Performance Model template to capture the data – and that typically follows identifying the Areas of Performance. But in this example let’s pretend that it’s only one Output/Task Cluster we are targeting to address. One Output with multiple Measures and a handful of Tasks – each with their own Measures.

Perhaps the Performance is done solo – Lone Ranger style – or by others outside our Target Audience.


Step 2-

Once we know the tasks and output – we can derive the enabling K/S a Performer needs to have in order to perform. I use 17 categories of enabling K/Ss.


Step 3-

Once we know the enablers and the terminal performance we can create the Learning Objectives – and simply derive them from both sets of Analysis data.


Step 4-

The Performance Model of Tasks and Outputs is the source for authentic APPOs – Application Exercises.

If feasible … you can use Real Work, last week’s Real Work (already done), or a simulation of Real Work as the Exercise – which of course is also a Test.

If there are multiple opportunities to practice the final one could be the test. Beats a Written Test to test only for Knowledge most of the time.

But sometimes a written test of Knowledge is appropriate. The Master Performers will guide you/tell you what’s appropriate.


Step 5-

Sometimes, once you understand the APPO – you can determine whether or not a DEMO would help the learner prepare for the APPO. Not always necessary.


Step 6-

Once you understand the APPO and DEMO you can take all of the enabling K/S data and sort and sequence and group them into INFOs.


Step 7-

Now you can develop the Content – the INFOs and DEMOs and APPOs.

This step might require additional people beyond your Team of Master Performers. But maybe not. Maybe they can take this on.

Slide 7a

Step 8-

This step will require additional people beyond your Team of Master Performers. Maybe they’re just down the hall – and can be tapped to address this step.


Step 9-

This is usually more formal – but again, perhaps they’re just down the hall and they can be engaged to participate in this test.

It will require additional Master Performers to check the accuracy, completeness and appropriateness of the Content – AND – Target Audience members so that Learning can be measured, before and after or just after,


Step 10-

Feedback from Verbal Debriefings and/or Written Evaluations will be needed as input to this step. Then you “park” your final materials per your standard approach/procedures.


The 10 Steps

In summary … drum roll …


Part of the PACT Processes for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management

Whether you are targeting some Micro Learning based on the Top-Down approach of Curriculum Architecture Design (to create Paths of modular content) or doing a worthy one-off – these 10 steps can guide you.



For more on the original methods that these 10 Steps were adapted from, see these Resources,


  • For Sale: Books – 13 books – some available as hardbound, and others as paperbacks and Kindles.

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