L&D: Push-Pull Knowledge Management Systems – Part 6

Push-Pull KMS – Summary Post

Link to Part 1 – here.

Link to Part 2 – here.

Link to Part 3 – here.

Link to Part 4 – here.

Link to Part 5 – here.

Note – this was written in 2000 for my former quarterly newsletter, and I’ve made only slight edits to it for posting here in 2018. This is the last post in this series.

Opening the Close

This post completes the slight updates to a 6 part article series begun in the Fall 2000 issue of lean-ISD (the former name of CADDI’s newsletter/journal: Pursuing Performance in 2000) on my perspective regarding Knowledge Management Systems (KMS).

This series was intended to provide some background on my  inspiration, thoughts, and real-world experiences that shape my perspective on KMS. It also provided an overview of four stages to get to a push-pull KMS using both my PACT Processes for T&D/learning/KMS, as articulated in my book: lean-ISD, as well as the utility of the “systems” required to manage the effort, as articulated in my other book: T&D Systems View.

Some Key Concepts and Background

Push-pull is used here as borrowed from the marketing world. Some products are “pulled” by the marketplace from the supplier, and others are “pushed” to the marketplace by the supplier. And in today’s world, some E-mail is pushed to you so that you might click and then pull more, if you are interested.

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 as determined/demanded not by the “KMS supplier” but by the “learner/user/customer’s management.”

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 me!

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 for an ROI and EVA

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.

Filling up a KMS electronic warehouse with “tons” of content, data, tools, etc. might make the executives happy—maybe at first. But later they’ll discover the quagmire of uncontrolled content that they allowed to be built and that must be administered or managed, and they will soon extract themselves and go on to something else to positively affect the enterprises’ bottom lines. And an opportunity for better knowledge management on behalf of the enterprise will have been squandered.

Will the KMS content be in enterprise management control? Should it be? I adamantly think so!

Costs incurred to generate new KMS content chunks should indicate a willingness to either keep it up to date or to delete it when stale, or why bother in the first place?

If KMS postdevelopment content maintenance is not done (at an additional cost beyond first costs to create/acquire), who will count up the damages done to the enterprise due to misinformed performers inadvertently learning or drawing insights from outdated or just plain wrong KMS chunks?

Uncontrolled development of pull-KMS content chunks, just because you can, leads to all sorts of uncontrolled costs, both for new development (first costs), as well as for maintenance (life-cycle costs).

From an investor standpoint, is this a good thing? It is if there is a return. And if that were the case, then a push approach would have been in order. And if there is no return, why are we bothering?

In my mind, KMS should exist to enable humans in critical enterprise processes where the returns far exceed the costs—even at a learning organization! It’s still all about performance and ROI. It’s still a business decision.

Differences & Similarities – KMS and learning and T&D “Products”

One thing to clarify/reiterate: we see little difference and a whole lot of similarities between KMS “products” and learning/T&D “products.”  All are “means” to an “end” with the “end” being human competence.

I use more traditional terms, such as T&D, versus the more current terms because we think that too often we can get caught up in the new channel (which is what the “e” thing is really all about), or a renaming of what good instruction was always supposed to be about…providing data/information, best practices, examples and non-examples, and templates/tools, besides all of the drill and practice on their usage in the real world of the target audience.

Information technology (IT), as promised, has begun to cross our paths with huge opportunities, challenges, and pitfalls, as well as tremendous rewards for the successful. It can reduce costs if used wisely, or waste resources for inappropriate use. We can’t teach “win-win negotiations” via a book or an e-learning module…completely. But we can teach components of the total via paper or “e” and then blend that with other media and modes of instruction (including the human instructor/facilitator).

I have always been of the “blended camp” regarding this “e” thing. In my mind, “e” deployment mechanisms should augment “t” (traditional) deployment mechanisms. To me, KMS is simply an extension and combination of instruction and non-instruction using electronic delivery/access means.

If this is being done for a planned “KMS greenfield” approach, the next step is to build or buy the piece parts of the infrastructure and then deploy, test, debug, etc.

If this infrastructure analysis is being done for a planned improvement initiative for an existing KMS system, then a gap analysis needs to be conducted to identify the changes needed for planning how to get from here (the current state) to there (the future state). Perhaps you’ll plan to do it incrementally, in baby steps, or go for the whole enchilada in one fell swoop.

Putting a KMS (or T&D/learning) in Place

In my model for push-pull KMS, the four stages for KMS implementation are

  • Stage 1 – KMS Business Case Development
  • Stage 2 – KMS Processes and Infrastructure Development/Deployment
  • Stage 3 – Initial KMS Content Development and Implementation
  • Stage 4 – Ongoing KMS Operations and Maintenance

Of course, I always fit in my PACT Processes for T&D where I see a fit. PACT has always been about high-payback T&D—T&D in many forms, at many levels: awareness, knowledge, and skills. It includes information that might be overviews/orientations/instruction, examples and demonstrations, and many types of applications, including real work and simulations.

Stage 1: KMS Business Case Development

Either the results of an effort to formulate a business case for KMS sells the decision-makers, or it does not. Hooray for the investors when that is the case! Either way, if the business case sells or doesn’t sell, the investors/shareholders always win!

A business case effort that proves the need for KMS by identifying the costs of nonconformance, as well as the costs of conformance for putting a KMS in place, makes the entire process a rational business practice.

In today’s world where many industries and enterprises are seeing their playing fields equalized by the general availability of both process and equipment to all of their competitors, finding sources of competitive advantages have lead many to target the improvement of capability for key human assets in critical processes within the enterprise.

This effort sizes the enterprise needs and costs out “doing nothing” as well as “doing other various options.”

Doing something involves both first costs and life-cycle costs. And with any business operation, there are certain capital and noncapital costs that will be incurred, anticipated or not, if the effort is to be successful. A Steering Team of business leaders should be leading this and making decisions and/or affecting the decisions being made.

Stage 2 – KMS Processes and Infrastructure Development/Deployment

In this stage, the KMS processes for content analysis and design/development, as well as all deployment processes, are determined, designed, and implemented. This includes the environmental assets required in the infrastructure and the human asset requirements to work the provided environment and make the processes go.

This is where my PACT Processes can come into play. It is also where my T&D System View model comes in, with its most critical Governance and Advisory System structure/apparatus.

The architecting of both the processes and the products is done here and implemented in the next stage.

Stage 3: KMS Initial Development and Implementation

In this stage, the initial KMS content is created, stored, deployed (pushed), or retrieved (pulled).

This is costly. And according to our model, only push-audiences’ needs are ever addressed. But they are always addressed in such a manner as to facilitate the needs of potential related pull audiences.

The needs of pull audiences, however, never warrant meeting those needs for them alone, by our definition. If their needs are to be met, it should be deliberate, and then they are considered a push audience and not a pull audience.

Then there are the costs associated with related performance errors, if they happen. And wasn’t the KMS intended to impact performance? So it will, won’t it? And if it misinforms, yikes!

I propose my PACT Processes for KMS content development. The PACT Processes for T&D are systematic, gated, collaborative approaches for ISD that are consistent with and reflective of many of the newer approaches and practices for managing the business processes of high-performing enterprises in a business-rational manner.

The PACT Processes

  • Are always in control from a schedule and budget perspective and are driven strategically by key line and executive management stakeholders.
  • Focus squarely on the knowledge and skill enablers required by performers within business processes.
  • Select the best mix of T&D deployment strategies, including the intranet/Internet, CBT, self-paced readings, videotapes, and audiotapes, as well as the most traditional approach: instructor-led classroom delivery.
  • Create a macrodesign for a modular, performance-based library of T&D while salvaging all previous investments assessed as worthy for reuse.
  • Enable prioritization for the gap T&D based on ROI, economic value added (EVA®), and criticality/impact to critical business processes and initiatives.
  • Greatly increase the shareability of the T&D Modules, thereby reducing the typical redundancy of the content produced separately for each audience and generating huge savings in first-time development costs, life-cycle maintenance costs, and ongoing development costs.

The three PACT Processes are Curriculum Architecture Design (CAD), Modular Curriculum Development (MCD), and Instructional Activity Development (IAD). They each operate at three distinct, different levels of ISD. Each is driven by the PACT Process analysis methodologies for Performance Modeling and Knowledge/Skill Analysis (see Phase 2 of each PACT Process model below).

Using a CAD-like Approach

CAD (Curriculum Architecture Design) is the macroprocess. It generates the overall, macro-, modular design for the entire T&D product line so that business decisions can be made as to which of the current gap T&D/KMS products should be developed/acquired and brought to market, and which of the current existing T&D products need maintenance. Both needs compete for the limited resources of the T&D/KMS organization.

The T&D products are referred to as T&D Events, and the T&D product subassemblies are referred to as T&D Modules. The CAD process has four phases and four key gates.

CAD Graphic

Using an MCD-like Approach

MCD (Modular Curriculum Development) is the midlevel process. It generates the T&D Modules and T&D Events of the CAD, consistent with the business priorities established in the CAD process. The macrolevel analysis and design work from the CAD is brought to the midlevels in MCD. The MCD process has six phases and four key gates.

MCD 6 Phases

Using an IAD-like Approach

IAD (Instructional Activity Development) is a special process that generates subassemblies or components of instruction including

  • Best practices
  • Performance/job aids
  • Electronic or paper desk procedures
  • Performance checklists
  • Simulation exercises
  • Knowledge tests
  • Performance tests (for pre- and posttesting and/or certification/qualification testing)
  • Case studies
  • Instructional content (at the awareness, knowledge, or skill level) via instructional activities, demonstration activities, and application activities

The midlevel analysis and design work from the MCD is brought to the microlevel in IAD. The IAD process has six phases and four key gates – and is basically the same project planning/management framework as MCD.

Key Roles and Responsibilities for Customer and Supplier Staff

Team Methodology

A number of methodologies are used throughout the PACT Processes; however, the most critical from both a quality and cycle time standpoint is the use of teams throughout all phases.

The use of appropriate company personnel on the designated project teams will ensure higher quality of both the project inputs and outputs. In addition, it will provide for a level of participation in the project activities that will create increased ownership of the results and more support for eventual implementation.

The project’s overall structure for key roles and the teams is as follows:

  • Project Steering Team
  • Customer-side project manager
  • Supplier-side project manager
  • Analysis Team
  • Design Team
  • Development Team
  • Pilot-Test Team
  • ISD Team

Business Benefits of the PACT Processes for T&D/Learning/KMS

There are many business benefits to be derived from the adoption/adaptation of CADDI’s PACT Processes for T&D/learning/KMS. The benefits are for your shareholders, your customers, your T&D staff, and your T&D suppliers/vendors. The key benefits are best summarized as follows.

  • Improved effectiveness of the T&D due to its focus on performance requirements within business processes
  • Reduced costs for first-time development and life-cycle maintenance due to the modular design concepts and frameworks already established and populated in the initial implementation projects
  • Reduced project cycle time and costs due to the use of predefined teams and roles/ responsibilities, phases and tasks, and templates for both project inputs and outputs

The PACT Processes provide you with the following:

  • A common, gated, in-control ISD process that engages the right personnel at the right time to do the right things; uses sound ISD principles; and frees up the time and energies of the ISD professionals to be creative instructionally and not forced to continually reinvent the ISD process or replan the project.
  • A blueprint for a modular T&D product line that leverages a design concept and methodology that specifies both the shareable and unique T&D Modules and Events. These Modules and Events allow the organizations’ key stakeholders to strategically place the T&D resource bets for the strategic and financial returns while enabling the sharing of content (modules and events), thereby reducing future development and maintenance cycle times and costs, as well as deployment costs.
  • The avoidance of analysis paralysis and the increased/unpredictable schedule and cost overruns due to a “jump in at the weeds level approach” where one needs to analyze everything at a detailed level, just in case it will be needed.
  • A top-down, systems engineering approach to the T&D product line, covering the entire enterprise, or key functions and job families, or key business processes and the key roles within, or a single function/job/role/task.

Stage 4: KMS Operations and Maintenance

Ongoing KMS operations involve the deliberate (no kidding) deployment of content to push audiences, as well as making the content accessible to pull audiences as any enterprise need-to-know constraints and proprietary information protection needs dictate.

Not all things should be shared over the enterprise intranet, as it makes it much easier to find its way to the competition.

And the inevitable updating chore that exists for almost each and every piece of content will add a lot of life-cycle expense unless carefully managed.

Avoiding the inadvertent creations of just-slightly different, derivative works (in other words, redundant content) should keep everyone up at night, especially the shareholders.

Every redundant piece of content created is a wasted expense as another additional/unnecessary first cost, only to certainly be followed by certain additional/unnecessary life-cycle costs, including administrative costs and then maintenance costs.

A Knowledge Management System needs to be operated; it won’t operate on its own. The maintenance aspects of a Knowledge Management System include both maintenance of the knowledge products and the maintenance of the human and environmental assets.

As a business within the enterprise, the KMS has customers, owners, and many other types of stakeholders. The CADDI model for stakeholders follows, along with a short, generalized explanation of the “stakes” or interests of each group.

KMS Stakeholders

There are eight generic, or basic, stakeholder categories with many potentially different types of people in each of them. The categories are

  • Government
  • Shareholders
  • Executive Management
  • Customers
  • Standards Bodies/Professional Associations
  • Employees
  • Suppliers
  • Community

A KMS must have processes in place that connect with these stakeholders. Determining the voices of the stakeholders and turning that potential discordant “noise” into harmonious “insight” regarding the critical business issues, the strategic intent and focus, and the specific product and/or service needs of those critical needs, is itself critical to the success of the Knowledge Management System.

It’s A Wrap

I have done several presentations on KMS at several ISPI conferences.

Here is one:

Push-Pull Knowledge Management Sys – ISPI – 2001 – 42 page PDF – delivered at the ISPI conference in April 2001 – this covers the use of the PACT Processes for Training, Learning and Knowledge Management in the creation of a Knowledge management System for Push target audiences and Pull target audiences. It also cover a 4 phase approach to implementing a KMS.

Here it is as a PowerPoint Show: push-pull KMS vISPI Conference SF 2001 GWW 2018

I hope that you’ve found value in my Post offerings on KMS. I’d love to hear back from you regarding any “questions/comments/concerns” you have regarding our view of performance-based/push-pull KMS.

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