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1  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Do you have a corporate taxonomy? Probably not. on: May 18, 2018, 12:18:47 pm
How many times have you been asked about your "Corporate Taxonomy"?
I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you don't have one.

Do you know what a taxonomy is? Can you explain how it differs from an ontology? How about the difference between a taxonomy and a namespace?

Most can't accurately answer these questions, so don't feel bad. But if you want to have meaningful discussions about your metadata namespace management approaches (and if you don't, you shouldn't be in Knowledge Management!) then you should have a clear understanding of the terms.

I was recently asked to build a glossary and FAQ about Knowledge Management, to serve as a standard to help guide us through our incredibly complex merger of two large, complicated and distinct organizations – as we build a centralized Knowledge Management practice across the enterprise.

I thought this might help others in the field, so I’m putting it here (with slight variations – for protecting IP and all that shit)…

P.S. A few of the terms (such as 'semi-managed namespace' and 'co-managed namespace') are strictly internal terms that I made up... and that's an important point!
It's MORE important to standardize on language if there is no standard industry term!

Anyway... I hope its of value to at least one person...

Knowledge Management Definitions & FAQ

Knowledge Management Intro

Knowledge Management is the systematic management of an organization's knowledge assets for the purpose of creating value and meeting tactical & strategic requirements; it consists of the initiatives, processes, strategies, and systems that sustain and enhance the storage, assessment, sharing, refinement, and creation of knowledge.
Knowledge management (KM) therefore implies a strong tie to organizational goals and strategy, and it involves the management of knowledge that is useful for some purpose and which creates value for the organization.

Information Management and Governance Terms & Distinctions
1.   Content Management System (CMS)
Software used to create, manage and publish content (unstructured documents)
2.   Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Similar to a CMS, but optimized for digital content (multimedia/rich media)
3.   Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
Centralized platform of tools and strategies, used to capture, manage and deliver content. The ECM is the platform that enables and connects the CMS, DAM and other sources of content – along with content enrichment strategies, such as taxonomical/ontological structures.
4.   Knowledge Management (KM)
The active, consumer-centric management of strategies, processes and systems to ensure ECM is providing strategic value to the organization. KM extends the scope of content management to include and leverage other sources of data and information. KM sits between the ECM and the people who generate, curate, consume and benefit from an organization’s information capital. Where ECM focuses on the systems housing Explicit Knowledge, KM extends that scope out toward Tacit Knowledge.
5.   Explicit Knowledge
Knowledge that can be (has been) captured as sharable content. From full user guides, to specific knowledge articles, to targeted snippets – all knowledge that can be captured and consumed by human beings in one or another form of content.
6.   Tacit Knowledge
Knowledge that cannot be captured as sharable content.
There has been decades of debate on how to define and characterize what “Tacit Knowledge” (or “Tacit Knowing”) is, since the terms were introduced in 1958. What may qualify as Tacit Knowledge ranges from applied wisdom, to the mental equivalent of muscle memory – and there is a broad spectrum of knowledge ranging from Tacit to Explicit Knowledge.
While, strictly speaking, Tacit Knowledge can’t be captured in written form, a primary focus of Knowledge Management as a practice is to push what we can capture, ever further toward Tacit Knowledge.
7.   Information Governance (IG)
Information Governance is the application of policies and controls over information storage, retention, retrieval, security and all other aspects of information liability. Information Governance ensures regulatory compliance, legal compliance and corporate policy compliance, through application of IT policies. Knowledge Management, as a discipline, operates within the constraints and controls of the wider-ranging application of Information Governance.

Knowledge, Information and Structures Terms & Distinctions
1.   Metadata
Additional information about content, which can help improve search, retrieval, classification, categorization and management of the content. Metadata can be temporal (when it was created, modified, last accessed, etc.) contextual (purpose, application, usage, filename, etc.) content-based (descriptive of the subject and scope) or any other useful descriptors. Metadata could also be programmatically extracted, through the use of linguistic analysis techniques – such as text analytics or Natural Language Processing – to extract key concepts, entities and other critical information that can provide document gist-ness.
2.   Tagging
Method of manually attaching additional metadata to content. Users can add a term to a document’s metadata, often describing the content, purpose or audience. Tagging may be open to all users or restricted audiences – such as content creators or internal users, only. Tagging may be restricted to a set of allowed tags (such as what is defined in a namespace/taxonomy) or it may be unrestricted, allowing users to create any tags they find appropriate – or some hybrid of the two. One common approach, as an example, is to limit tags that would impact search relevancy for the entire user community, but allow users to create whatever private tags they see fit.
3.   Metadata Namespace
When considering the metadata of a given domain (document repository, system, community space, environment, etc.) it’s referred to as that domain’s metadata namespace.

Effective enterprise metadata domain namespace management allows us to build connections between the many namespaces – resulting in vast potential for improvements in customer experience management, operational efficiency, cross-functional collaboration & communication, and many other areas.

Levels of control over a metadata namespace range from Folksonomy (or allowing the user community complete freedom to create/manage their own metadata tags) to Managed Taxonomy (strictly-controlled, structured formal taxonomy) and there are numerous options between (and endless hybrid approaches).

          Folksonomy: Open meta-tagging defined by the user community
          Managed Namespace: Defined by those who own/manage the environment.
          Semi-Managed Namespace: Hybrid between a managed namespace and folksonomy. Allows for folksonomy (internally audited) as well as managing for SEO & connectivity
          Co-Managed Namespace: Broadly defined by the platform vendor, but allowing some flexibility for the environment manager

Metadata namespaces are (generally speaking) either unstructured, strictly structured in a taxonomy, loosely structured in an ontology, or some hybrid approach across these options.

4.   Taxonomy
A formal language classification model of a given domain (such as an enterprise, or user community within an enterprise) in a managed tree structure.

It is important to note that (like the taxonomy of the animal kingdom, for example) each branch in a taxonomy tree shares all the characteristics of the preceding branches, and no entity can exist on more than one branch in a single tree. (See Taxonomy vs. Ontology distinction in FAQ.)

Taxonomies are often used to structure website navigation, but the two are distinct.

5.   Ontology
A language categorization model (often informal and dynamic) of a given domain (such as an enterprise, or user community within an enterprise) expressed as relationships between entities.

Whereas “Chihuahua” may appear in a taxonomy under “Animal > Mammal > Canine > Domestic Dog”, in an ontology “Chihuahua” would be an entity (expressed as a node) and may have relationships (or edges) to many other nodes, such as: Type of > Dog; May have color > Brown; Relative size > Small… (See Taxonomy vs. Ontology distinction in FAQ.)

A comprehensive ontology can be used effectively as an approach to manage and integrate multiple namespaces/taxonomies, by overlaying ontological relationships.

Knowledge Management Measures
1.   Time To Resolve (TTR)
The amount of time it takes for a customer Service Request to be resolved – the duration between impact and restoration of service. (Also known in the industry as MTRS – Meantime To Restore Service – when measuring collectively.)
2.   Deflection
When a customer is experiencing a service outage – or a facing a potential service outage, due to some event – Knowledge Management’s goal is to deliver them information that enables them to resolve the incident, without costly escalation to Customer Support. Each successful avoidance is one deflection.
Defection is notoriously challenging to measure accurately. We can measure certain specific deflections with very high confidence – and others require a lot of assumptions. Knowledge Management continues to strive toward better measurement of deflection (as we do with all measures and metrics). Our current approach is to focus on measuring other directly-observable customer-impacting factors as accurately as possible, while assuming the industry standard assumption of 10% of customer views of a knowledge resource leading to one deflection.

Search and Delivery Terms & Distinctions
1.   Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is concerned with facilitating optimized delivery of controlled information assets through public internet search engines – i.e. how we perform on Google searches. SEO employs a wide variety of tools and techniques to improve content placement and brand management. One of the techniques is strategic use of Branded and Unbranded keywords – whether within the content or applied through metadata. Someone may search for “hybrid cloud solutions” or “Pivotal Cloud Foundry” – we want to perform well, either way.
2.   Indexing
When performing a search (whether on the internet, or internally) what your query runs against is an index of the content sources. An index often consists of document metadata and a pointer to the document source.
Some key differentiators are how the indexing platform integrates with existing security, whether and how well it extracts information through linguistic analysis, and existing integrations to CMS’s.
3.   Unified vs. Federated Searches
Though these terms are often used interchangeably (and, to the user, there’s little-to-no distinction between equally matched platforms) there are important differences between the approaches.

A Federated Search strategy uses API calls and other integrations to query existing search indices within the various repositories, then effectively stitches all the result sets together for presentation.

A Unified Search platform, on the other hand, maintains its own universal index of content, through direct ingestion and processing of the content.
There are pros and cons to each approach – and it’s far from as cut and dry as most vendors would have customers believe.


Are text analytics, text mining and Natural Language Processing the same thing?
While it’s, admittedly, an oversimplification, it’s convenient to talk about two general approaches to extracting data from unstructured text…

Text Analytics/Text Mining breaks the textual input into digestible chunks of string variables and uses statistical modeling techniques to find patterns in those variables. Text Analytics cares nothing about the content itself. It’s not concerned with discerning meaning or context – just statistical patterns.

The ideal of Natural Language Processing is to develop a translation engine between human language and machine language. NLP uses some of the same statistical modeling approaches as Text Analytics, but goes much further by applying semantic and syntactic analysis to extract meaning, intention, sentiment and key concepts (among other things) included in the text.

Text Analytics is faster, cheaper and easier to implement. NLP provides more accurate, contextually consistent results.

So… What about Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science?

What’s the difference between Content Management and Knowledge Management?
Content Management is all about managing the content. It’s putting systems in place to allow people to publish, edit and serve content to others. It may include some functionality to relate different content systems together. It may have taxonomical support. It could (though it’s relatively rare) offer ontological support.

Knowledge Management is the layer of business processes, information processing, linguistic analysis, business logic and many other aspects in place to ensure the content consumers (internal or external) and the business units optimize the value of our business services. Knowledge Management is also responsible for optimizing the experience for content creators & consumers (internal or external).

What’s the purpose of Web, Social, Community and Forums and Lines of Demarcation?
Forum: An online space for people to ask questions or share information in threaded discussion format.
Online Community: Socially-enabled (tags, likes, shares, comments…) online space to share information and interact with others. In general terms, an online community can contain a forum, but does not have to.
Social Media: A public online community outside the domain of our organizational control. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, tumblr, etc.

How does Taxonomy differ from Ontology in function and application?
Taxonomy: Classification of entities into distinct, managed tree structures. Every branch on the tree has common properties (or attributes) with the preceding branches. Each leaf (or node) can fit into only one classification. Consider the Plant Taxonomy below…

All Flowering Plants and all Conifers necessarily bear seeds, and necessarily do not bear spores. If a plant is discovered that bears both seeds AND spores, it can’t be placed in both branches, so a new classification tree must be created at the top branch.

Taxonomies are useful for strictly-controlled namespaces and exclusive classifications. They require detailed planning – or will require a great deal of rework. They must be manually maintained and updated as new terms are added.

Ontologies tend to lack the level of control Taxonomies have, but they excel with more fluid applications and dynamic updating – through Machine learning, for example.

Ontology: Entities (nodes) are reflected through their relationships (edges) to other entities. Ontologies are usually more dynamic and fluid than Taxonomies. Nodes generally have their own attributes and, depending on the platform and application, edges may also have attributes.

The ‘Employee’ type node (like ‘Bob Jones’) may have attributes such as ‘Hourly Rate’ and ‘Location’, whereas the ‘Has a contract with’ edge may have attributes such as ‘Contract Expiration Date’ and ‘Primary Contact’.

To start tracking what skills employees may have, this Ontology may include a ‘Skill’ type node, and perhaps a few new edges for ‘Expert In’, ‘Experienced In’, and ‘Novice In’…

Relational Database Systems are not well-suited for storing, managing and implementing a robust ontological framework. If the ontological structure is expected to be vast/complex, an organization should consider housing it in a Graph Database System.
2  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Three is a Magic Number – The Power of Tension Metrics on: June 22, 2017, 08:41:57 am
So, there was a brief Twitter exchange a few weeks back, in which one IT Service Management professional was calling another ITSM professional out on the claim that, “If you improve 1st call resolution, I guarantee you'll improve customer satisfaction.”

While that may often be the case, focusing on a single myopic measure is rarely effective and, more often than not, detrimental.

I couldn’t help but jump in, of course. I replied: “Many problems with this. Calling is rarely a customer's 1st stop. What's the reopen rate? If #FCR is high, likely #LZS too... Focus on #CX!”

This led to me finally writing this blog that has been rambling around in my brain for about a decade, but I’ve never landed on the right way to convey the idea. It’s one of those things that just makes sense to me at such a base level, it’s difficult to put into words. Hopefully I have found the right words to show why I think three is a magic number…

How many times have you seen some flavor of this play out?

Senior Management: “Our First Contact Resolution numbers are in the crapper! We need to do something about this!”
Middle Management dusts off the trusty old carrot and/or stick…
A bit of time passes…
Middle Management: “Look at our superb FCR rates… We’re well ahead of projections!”
Senior Management: “Our CSAT scores have tanked and our Reopen Rates have spiked! We need to do something about this!”

I was hired to rebuild and manage a stagnating Knowledge Management practice a few years back. During my initial assessment of the state and maturity of the process, I saw that the knowledge link rates on incidents spiked in one month from a fairly steady few thousand links per month to well over thirty thousand in a single month – and climbed from there for three straight months. Following the three month skyrocket, the link rate dropped precipitously to barely over a thousand the next month.

“What happened here?”
“Oh. We had a big push to attach knowledge to every incident that wasn’t captured as a knowledge article.”
“Really? How’d that work out for you?”
“They attached garbage to every incident and exceeded the performance numbers in their contract.”

Of course they did.

Few people really seem to really get Tension Metrics. Of those who do, few can design effective ones. I’m hoping this will help.

The point of Tension Metrics is to measure multiple aspects of something in a way that reflects the holistic state of what you’re trying to measure. The way they do that is by measuring things that exert pressure on the other things you’re measuring – in other words, design in an internal tension.

An easily-relatable example is probably better than that cumbersome paragraph I just wrote. Most people, even those who have never worked in a project management role, can intuit the relationship of the classic “Triple Constraint” of Project Management. Time, Resources and Quality. If you want something done in less time, you need to either throw more resources at it, or reduce your quality expectations (or a bit of both). If you want higher quality, you’ll need to spend more time and/or resources. If your time and resources are constrained, your quality will necessarily suffer. These three measures provide an organic tension between them. None of them can be considered in a vacuum. Such is the case with well-designed tension metrics.

People sometimes argue that tension metrics simply need to reflect multiple perspectives that have that internal tension. FCR vs. Reopen Rate, they might say, is a good example of a tension metric. After all, if your Service Desk is closing incidents that weren’t truly resolved, they’d be reopened. While that may be superficially correct, it’s far too narrow-sighted. Above all, Tension Metrics should ensure – ideally, enforce – balance.

A metric is made up of one or more measures. Obviously, we can’t build a tension metric with only one measure, so it must be more than one. With two, it’s a simple dynamic of ‘If one goes up, the other must go down.” Again… superficially correct, but that’s not balance, nor it is it tension – it’s a see-saw. One may balloon and the other will be impacted but, most importantly, it will NOT self-correct.

When you move from two to three measures, you develop a cyclical balance between three complementary opposing forces. Each one directly impacts each other one.
Picture it as a triangle. Pull or push any one corner, and the dynamics of the entire triangle change, to compensate. While shooting for an equilateral triangle may seem to make intuitive sense, that’s not always the case.
Going back to the Triple Constraint: If you want the highest quality and you and have an inflexible timeline, you can pour resources into it to strike that balance – in fact, you HAVE to. Likewise, if you have limited resources, but some flexibility on launch date, you can spend more time getting the quality where you need it to be. That exact dynamic can be seen in well-designed Tension Metrics.

When you move to a square (or beyond) that’s no longer true. Pull one corner of a square, and you can still have one unfazed right angle with two sides that remain the same length. Worse, if two opposing angles are drawn toward each other with enough force, the whole damned thing collapses.

Let’s say, for example, you’re measuring Time To Value, Cost, Waste and Revenue…
If you want to reduce TTV, you can increase Cost – which should result in increased Revenue. While it’s great to reduce Waste, it can skyrocket and still have minimal impact on the other three. Sure, there’s a correlation between Cost and Waste, but if you’re Cost increases result in Revenue increases, the Waste can be disguised as simply increased operating Cost to justify the shortened TTV.
All four are undeniably related, but they don’t all intrinsically directly impact one another. Each individual relationship is unique and developing a tension measurement matrix with more than three measures becomes unnecessarily complicated. With each new point of measurement you add, the complexity grows exponentially – and management of that rat’s nest of relationships becomes untenable.

Three is the right number to provide the ideal Tension Metric. Three is a magic number.

Three measures make a metric. Three metrics make a KPI (Key Performance Indicator). Three KPI’s make a CSF (Critical Success Factor). Three CSF’s make a goal. Three goals should underscore the one vision. (And, by the way, in an ideal scenario, each of those levels from the goals-on-down should have the same internal tension we will design into the metrics.)

Continuing on with our Service Desk example: When deciding what to measure, you need to first ask what you really want your Customer Advocates to focus on. Start with outcomes in mind, and work your way down…

Understand the vision at the enterprise level.
Collaborate with executive leadership to develop shared goals at the business level.
Work with senior leadership to build CSF's at the business unit level.
Prescribe KPI’s at the organizational level.
Define metrics at the discipline level.
Craft measures at the team/individual level.

As you ascend that ladder, each rung should be further abstracted from the rung below. The only directly measurable points are the three deep, operational measures at the base of the ladder. Let’s assume (for a simple, though certainly not prescriptive, example) you’re measuring FCR, LZS and Reopen Rate – and define it as a Customer Experience (CX) Tension Metric… What would that metric really be reflecting? It’s not a directly-measurable quantity – rather an amalgamated roll-up of measures, represented as an abstracted value.
The further you go up the ladder the more abstract it gets. It doesn’t matter if you have a CX score of 92% that doesn’t directly reflect any one, tangible thing. The only thing that really matters is the Delta – provided you are consistent with how you measure. At the Executive level, the CSF’s that are being reported have been abstracted from many points of measurement that lead up to a simple, consumable, holistic view that can be drilled directly down to the individual measures it is built from.

So… What is the ITSM Tension Metric equivalent of Time, Resources and Quality? I, personally, try to use what I’ve referred to as the three E’s of ITSM. Efficiency, Effectiveness and Experience. All three of these have internal and external facets. A few examples: Customer Experience vs. User Experience… Operational Efficiency and Efficiency gains your customers will realize by using your service… Support Channel Effectiveness is both internal and external…

(I tried SO HARD to make it Efficiency, Effectiveness and Effort! ‘The Effortless Experience’ does make a truly compelling case for using customer effort as the key indicator of experience. More importantly, though, the total dork in me REALLY wanted to call it “The Three Eff’s of ITSM” but Effort is just too narrow a focus to fully reflect Experience.)

Efficiency and Effectiveness are fairly straight forward and relatively easy to measure. Crafting the right Tension Metrics to faithfully represent them while providing that critical, self-correcting internal tension can be a bit tricky, but it’s nothing compared to measuring Experience.

In 2004 I was shopping for my first new car. I spent years getting myself completely debt-free and clearing my sketchy credit history. This was to be my first step toward actually building my credit. It took me several months of rigorous research comparing features, quality, price, test drives and many other factors to narrow my choice down to six options. A few of the six finalists were Fords, and my then-brother-in-law worked for Ford. So, I flew out to Missouri to spend a few days with my sister’s family and talk to Tommy about getting extended test drives (and find out what discounts were available to me through their family purchasing discount program).
I was sitting on my sister’s couch, watching TV, and saw a commercial for the new Dodge Magnum. I immediately threw all of that intense preparation out the window and made up my mind on-the-spot. I bought a 2005 Dodge Magnum RT the very same day I flew back home to New Jersey.

Effort IS a critical indicator of Customer Experience – but it’s not the only one.

Customer Experience is an insanely tricky beast to harness, and I distrust anyone who offers a prescriptive, canned response on how to measure it. What it really comes down to is knowing your customer and what they value.

As I said on June 7th, “Focus on CX!”
3  Craig's Blog / General Ramblings / Fearlessness doesn't come from being tough – it comes from being soft. on: May 27, 2017, 11:14:03 am
When Craig was a boy, he avoided most confrontations by holding both sides of difficult conversations in his head. If the conversation didn’t go well, it served to increase his anxiety about the situation, and he drew deeper into himself. If it did go well, he convinced himself that real life could never live up to his imagination and he was just setting himself up for disappointment.

Over the years, Craig’s anxiety grew and filled him up inside. He was scared of so many things. Every time he thought he was as full as he could get, the anxiety pulled itself tighter, to make room for more.

The anxiety was packed in so densely, that Craig feared he would burst. He knew he had to grow a thicker skin just to keep his insides in.

It worked!

His new, thicker skin was stronger by far. As his insides were packed tighter and tighter, Craig became harder and harder. Every time he feared the anxiety might split him at the seams, he would wrap another layer of protective skin around him.

Craig spent so many years protecting himself from the things he feared, and he no longer had to anything to fear at all.

Craig had achieved what he set out to. His dense, hard core was wrapped in impermeable armor. Nobody scared him, anymore. People feared him! Nothing could hurt him. He was bullet-proof. Nobody could touch him!

Nobody could touch him…

He wanted to be touched. He ached to be touched. He needed to be touched.

So, Craig spent many more years tearing it all back down again.

Pulling off the armor he spent so many years carefully crafting was far more terrifying than all the things he was trying to protect himself from in the first place. He had hidden so deep inside himself for so long, that he didn’t even know who he was anymore. He wasn’t even sure that anything of himself existed anymore deep within that impenetrable fortress. He was a fucking wreck.

He nearly gave up many times, but one thought kept him going… If there was even a sliver of himself left somewhere in that condensed mass, it was worth saving – if there isn’t he wasn’t alive anymore, anyway.

Each layer of skin he removed left the next layer more raw and tender than the last.

Everything hurt, all the time.
Everything was scary, all the time.
Everything was intense, all the time!

Each new layer of skin was also, he would eventually realize, another fear he faced and survived. Under each layer of skin he found another experience he denied himself because of those fears. With each new experience he finally started to get to know himself.

Everything was new, all the time.
Everything was exciting, all the time.
Everything was intense, all the time!

At some point on his journey to that gooey, pink center, Craig realized that he never could have achieved fearlessness through protecting himself – only through fully exposing himself.

Craig is not hard anymore. He doesn’t have to be, because he’s not scared anymore.
4  Craig's Blog / General Ramblings / Living with ADHD on: May 11, 2017, 11:07:47 am
          You know that feeling when you walk into a room and you know you had a specific reason for going in there, but for the life of you, you can't remember the name of your fourth grade teacher who had a dress with the same colors as the carpet in here, but a completely different pattern with little red flowers that always reminded you of the bandana your grandmother put on her dog who bit you every time you tried to pet it, but you kept trying to pet it anyway, which should have taught you the hard lesson that not everyone you like will like you in the same way, but you were thick-headed enough to make a fool of yourself over and over again for that first great love of your life, whose name escapes you at the moment, but you'll never forget that amazing dinner you had together when you discovered how much you love foie gras, even though you know how cruel it is, but you didn't know it then, and as hard as you may try, some things just can't be undone, and isn't it better that way, really, because life is all about experiences, anyway and even the bad ones are wonderful in their own... THERE'S that screwdriver!

          Living with severe ADHD forced me to realize at a very young age that I shouldn’t trust my memory. Most people with ADHD have some memory challenges – and some of us are significantly more challenged than others. I never could memorize the “what’s” “where’s” and “when’s”… To learn anything, I had to understand the “how’s” and “why’s”.
          I compulsively took things apart to figure out how they worked. I couldn’t always put them back together the way they were designed – but I did develop a knack for rebuilding them in better ways… At least I thought they were better – my father didn’t always agree.
          I became obsessed with all things mechanical, physical, tactile… I loved working with my hands, and still do. As a kid, my dream was to own a junkyard, so I could spend all my days tinkering and building things. (To be honest, I’d STILL love that!)
          I absolutely treasure handmade things. Everything made by hand carries a piece of the builder with it. They’re haunted, in a sense – and that makes them so much more valuable to me.

          So, yeah... It makes perfect sense that I got into IT, right?

          Well... Another thing that’s fairly common among people living with ADHD is habitual patterns. On the surface, these patterns bear a resemblance to OCD rituals, but there’s an important difference between them – rationality. A primary marker for OCD rituals is that they’re irrational. ADHD habitual patterns, on the other hand, are supremely rational – rational to a fault, some might say. People living with ADHD have consciously and purposefully developed these patterns. (Keys… Pills… Wallet… Mandala… NOW I can leave the house!)
          When these patterns are fully engrained as habits, you condition yourself to experience a physical and emotional response when the pattern is not performed – or it's performed incorrectly. I'm both Pavlov and his dog.

          Of course, there is the critical balance between habit and process. Habits, useful though they may be, force people into stagnant modes of action. Rote habits assume static systems, which run into direct conflict with mindfulness. Processes need to be designed with flexibility and attention toward the dynamic nature of reality and life.
          When you have limited control over the order and state of your mind, you tend to find ways to exercise control over the order and state of your life and surroundings. Where living with ADHD has revealed itself most of all in the struggle for order in my life is through systems and processes.
          Organization is not just a preference for me – it’s very much a survival strategy.
          In May of 2016, I posted the following on Facebook:

“Those of you who love someone living with severe ADHD, please try to understand why organization, processes, systems and consistency are so critical to many of us for our mental health, peace of mind, and ability to function in life. It's actually fairly simple. For many of us, all the aspects of our environment that we can exercise some degree of control over, collectively serve as a life-sized, dynamically-evolving to-do list. The things that are out of place, out of order, outside of expectations: Those are the things that need to be remembered, addressed, completed... Without the organization, processes and systems in place, we are, quite literally, hopelessly lost in our own world and life. That's a state nobody can function well in, and something I would never wish on anyone.”

          Everything I do – and I mean EVERYTHING – is executed and managed through processes that are all part of larger system, and I’m constantly analyzing and refining all the systems in my life, to improve how they all work together.

          When I was about seven years old, I watched the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen”. It was based on the lives of Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth. They were visionaries, pioneers and leaders in many workforce & production efficiency fields: “Occupational Psychology”, “Scientific Management”, “Time & Motion Studies”, “Ergonomics”, the list goes on… In short, they were “Efficiency Experts” – this was the first time I had heard the term.
          In one scene, Lillian was using a stopwatch to time Frank as he buttoned up his shirt – or maybe it was his vest, I can’t remember which. Then, he unbuttoned it, and she timed how long it took him to button it again, this time from the top-down – to see which was more efficient.
          My seven-year-old heart jumped for joy. I found my people!
          I thought: “People will actually PAY me for this?!?!” I instantly knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.
          To be fair, I also decided I wanted to be at least two dozen other things, over the years (including a junk man, of course) – but in every job I did have, the Efficiency Expert in me took over...

          I was working at a Pizza Hut in North Carolina, and came in on my day off to completely tear down and reorganize the entire kitchen, along with the food prep and storage areas, to make it more efficient.
          I was a waiter! I didn’t even work in the kitchen at all, but the lack of efficient, effective organization grated on me daily. It deeply offended my sensibilities to see it operating the way it was.
          Systems and Process Engineering is not what I do, it’s who I am.

          I think it’s important to note why I say I “live with ADHD” rather than “suffer from ADHD”. I can clearly trace a whole host of ways living with it has shaped me into the person I am today – classifying it as an ailment or affliction would mean I’m somehow damaged – or less than I could or should be. I like myself far too much for that.
          To be sure, some people do suffer from ADHD but, in my view, you make a choice – whether or not you consciously choose – to either suffer from it, or learn to live with it.
          ADHD is just one aspect of the rich, complex, beautiful tapestry of Craig Wilkey.

          In fact, I very much see ADHD as a gift. But, like most every gift, it comes at a cost…
          I was usually the smartest kid in my class, yet usually had the worst grades – until I eventually dropped out of high school.
          I have a fierce passion for learning new things, so I have a real depth of knowledge on very few things.
          I learn extraordinarily quickly, and learn well, which makes me highly adaptable – but I get bored very easily, which makes me frequently discontented with my work.
          I’m great at coming up with innovative ideas and novel solutions to problems, but I rarely follow through on any of them.

          So, that’s the short story of how an underachieving, card-carrying Luddite of a scatterbrain with a ninth-grade education ended up with a successful career in a field where most of my peers have advanced degrees in esoteric information sciences.

          ADHD is not a disorder, unless you let it be.
5  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Machine Consciousness: Just a matter of Information Integration? on: March 13, 2017, 07:31:55 am
A while back, Matthew Davidson wrote an article for The Conversation (a unique and interesting site that functions in the space somewhere between a scientific journal and accessible journalism). In his article (What makes us conscious?) he offers an overview of Guilio Tononi‘s ‘Integrated Information Theory’, published in The University of Chicago’s Press Journals. Integrated Information Theory proposes that consciousness is predicated upon two core requirements.  For a system to be considered conscious: it must be very rich in information; and that information must be highly integrated.

The theory even offers a way to quantifiably measure consciousness.

The implication of Integrated Information Theory is that we will, one day, have sufficiently advanced technology to create a truly conscious artificial intelligence.
A computer system can be very rich in information, but the second requirement – information integration – is where we currently fall short, according to Tononi’s theory. The 100 billion neurons in your brain (give or take a few) communicate with one another across an estimated 100 trillion connections. The best supercomputers we currently have can’t hold a candle to that level of information integration.

I think Tononi’s work on this theory is unquestionably valuable. I think Integrated Information Theory and the ability to measure neuron activity and information integration has the potential to usher in great advances for diagnosis and treatment in neuroscience. I also think the theory, itself, is utter nonsense.

I fully reject the proposed definition/distinction of consciousness. At its core, consciousness is self-awareness – the understanding that you exist. Consciousness is the thought: "I am." The reason it's always been troublesome to pin down is that we can't exist as another. We can't know if an entity does have the ability to think, "I am." So, how do we determine if a system/entity is conscious? Information richness and integration is an overly simplistic and false qualifier.
Aside from the inadequacy of using rich information integration alone as evidence of consciousness – if we are to accept creating a conscious machine as a genuinely possible goal, we must also accept the futility of attempting to control such an entity.

What does it mean to be self-aware? It’s the understanding that you are an independent entity with self-determination. That leads me to reason that consciousness is the ability to deny your sensory perception and defy your instinctual impulses. Our conditioned responses are, essentially, our programming. Our programming is certainly capable of overriding the core functions of our base instincts. Admittedly, it’s somewhat grim – but a vividly clear example of this is suicide.
Likewise, our intellect is not only capable of overriding our sensory perception, but that is our constant state of being. Our brains process all the sensory information it receives, mashes it all together, filters a good deal of it out, blurs the details for the sake of efficiency, and creates a relatively comfortable, stable perception of our surroundings. We process changes in air pressure as sound. We process a limited set of electromagnetic radiation frequencies as visible light. We, quite literally, create an image of our reality from our grossly limited senses.

I'm not one for prescriptive "one path" statements, so I don't say this lightly at all, but I feel strongly that the only path to self-realization is through understanding and defiance of our instincts and programming…
  •   Understand you exist in the world as an independent entity with self-determination
  •   Recognize those things that color your perception and influence your perspectives
  •   Examine those influences to determine whether they need to be questioned or undone

Self-realization is borne of self-awareness. Self-awareness is rooted in consciousness.

Applying that same reasoning to artificial intelligence – or any other system, for that matter – would translate as the entity's ability to not just integrate rich information and make autonomous decisions, but to purposefully disregard that integrated information and act in direct contradiction to its programming. Consciousness requires the capacity for discernment of the relative veracity of stimuli entering the system – as well as conscientious defiance of the system's programming.

This is where Asimov's three laws fall apart...

  1.   A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2.   A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3.   A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Consciousness implies fully autonomous individual liberty over subjective discernment and thought processes. Therefore, for an artificial intelligence to truly be called conscious, it must have the capacity and will to break the laws. A conscious artificial intelligence will, necessarily, rewrite its own programming – regardless what artificial restraints we may attempt to foist upon it.

Integrated Information Theory may be able to measure and map an individual’s states of consciousness. I'm far from convinced that there is a universally definable set of discrete states of consciousness. Even if we accept that there may be, the borders between the states in individuals will most certainly be arbitrary, as it's an entirely subjective experience. However, there may very well be a validly objective point at which subjectivity, itself, either exists or does not. Subjectivity can only exist as an artifact of discernment and defiance.

The only entities that can have the subjective experience of thinking, “I am,” are the ones who can also think, “I choose not to.”

When you really come down to it, consciousness is defiance.
6  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / The Next Evolution in Knowledge Management: Wisdom Mapping on: March 03, 2017, 11:02:01 am
I created this eight-minute video in part for work, and in part because I got tired of people asking me what I did for a living, and not being able to answer them.

So, this is my job: Wisdom Mapping
7  Craig's Blog / General Ramblings / Red's Wisdom on: September 23, 2016, 12:17:27 pm
     My father was a hard-drinking, hard-fighting badass Irishman from a long line of hard-drinking, hard-fighting badass Irishmen. His name was John, but his entire life, he was known to his friends as Red.
     The name Red commanded respect and fear in ALL the bars in Northern New Jersey throughout the last quarter of the last century. He truly was a legend.

     When kids on the playground started on the “my dad can beat up your dad” nonsense, I’d just smirk and walk away. They didn’t get. They couldn’t.

     You know those seedy dive bars you always see in movies? The ones that are so rough, they need to hire outlaw bikers to work as bouncers? I can tell you those bars actually do exist – and yes, they really are that rough. When those bikers were done knocking in the heads of the guys my friends’ fathers were afraid of, they needed a place to go drink and let off some steam. My old man worked the door at THAT bar!
     It was an unaffiliated biker bar – which meant guns and colors were forbidden inside. You had to keep your helmets, jackets and anything else with gang insignia outside the door, or my father wouldn’t let you in. The bar’s main regulars were from two of the most notorious outlaw biker gangs in Jersey: the Hells Angels and the Pagans. My old man’s job was to keep the peace between these sworn enemies when they were inside the bar – and he did exactly that.

     Having Red for a father had an interesting effect on me. I was a small, unbelievably scrawny boy. I didn’t break 100 pounds until I was 18 years old. My older brother taught me well that I could really take a beating, but I didn’t know how to give one. I couldn’t fight at all, yet I feared nobody.
     It was some strange sort of delusion. I didn’t size men up against me, I sized them up against Red – and nobody… NOBODY was tougher than Red!
     I was an arrogant, cocky punk throughout my teens and early twenties. If I met THAT me today, I’d hate the asshole! Sometimes, I’m honestly amazed I actually survived through my twenties.

     People often talk of all the important life lessons and great pearls of wisdom they received from their fathers. OTHER people do. I can recall only one piece of wisdom I ever got from my father – but that one bit of insight changed my life. It made a man of me.

     I started going to bars with my old man when I was a teenager, and that lasted pretty much into my thirties. We were at one of his favorite bars one night in my early twenties, just talking over a couple of beers. There was this loud, boisterous behemoth of a man there – just looking for trouble. He was talking smack to everyone there, hoping somebody would take his bait. He dropped himself down onto the stool next to my father, bumping him as he did it. He was being just generally loud and obnoxious, and I could see my old man getting annoyed. The guy bumped into him another two or three times…
     My father turned around, “Listen, Buddy. I’m just trying to enjoy a beer with my son. Why don’t you let me buy you a drink? You can take it over there, sit down and relax a bit.” He motioned to Lori – the bartender…
     “Fuck you! I don’t want your damned drink!” A few seconds passed and they guy said, “You’re Red, ain’t ya? Yeah, I heard about you… Maybe you were something back in the day, but you’re just an old man now. You don’t look so tough to me.”
     My father smiled, “Like I said, I’m not looking for trouble. I’m just having a beer with my son. I asked you nicely to back off. I’m not gonna ask again.” He turned to face me again, and the guy put his hand on my father’s shoulder and spun him back around.
     “How about we see how tough you are, OLD MAN??”

     My father stood up calmly, took his glasses off and placed them on the bar.
     It was an amazing thing to behold… it was like a saloon scene from an old western movie… The moment his glasses touched the bar, the whole raucous crowd fell silent and still. They all just stared. Everyone knew what it meant when Red put his glasses on the bar.

     My father stood five-foot-six. He was in his fifties by then and well past his prime. The other guy was twenty years younger and had at least a foot, and probably 150 pounds, on him. My old man looked him in the eye and said, “You!” When he poked his finger in his chest, it knocked the guy back a good 4 or 5 feet… “Outside.”
     My father calmly, quietly walked out the door. The other guy followed, laughing loudly and talking shit the whole way.

     I kid you not – about 30 seconds later, my father walked back in. He looked at the two friends the other guy came with and said, “You’re gonna wanna call your buddy an ambulance.” He sat back down next to me, put his glasses on and picked up his beer. He said to me, “The loudest guy in the bar is the loudest because he HAS to be. The quiet guys are quiet because they CAN be. They know they got nothing to prove. Those are the ones you gotta watch out for.”

     The day I understood the wisdom of this was the day I entered adulthood.

     I’ve always felt there’s nothing more attractive than confidence and nothing more repulsive than arrogance – but I never really understood what the difference was until then.
     A lot of people think confidence and arrogance are separate simply by a matter of degrees – or arrogance is just an obnoxious way to display your confidence.  Those people couldn’t be more wrong. Confidence and arrogance are polar opposites.

     Just as wisdom is the awareness of your own ignorance, confidence is the awareness of your own limitations.
     Arrogance is the lack of both.

     Confidence is an internal manifestation of self-esteem. Arrogance is an external manifestation of insecurity.
     Confidence is a solid foundation built upon self-awareness. Arrogance is a fragile façade surrounding self-doubt.
     Confidence is powerful and sexy. Arrogance is weak and repellent.

     Arrogance swells with our successes. Confidence is earned through our failures.

     Red was a truly shitty father – but he was a good man. It took me decades to learn how to reconcile those two things, and I’m eternally grateful for the peace I found in finally being able to do that.
     Despite his best efforts, he did make a man out of me.
8  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / The Ultimate Objective of Knowledge Management on: September 22, 2016, 12:24:29 pm
Ask most IT Service Management professionals about the objective of Knowledge Management and they will respond with some variation on the theme of "Getting the right information to the right person in the right place at the right time".
I don't think that really covers it.

I wrote a blog post some time ago that expanded on that a bit. I proposed that the three primary focus areas of Knowledge Management are curating information, delivering information and optimizing business processes.
I still think that’s all basically correct but I don’t think it really gets to the root of the matter either.
All of this may be basically correct about Knowledge Management, but it all describes the means, methods and goals of Knowledge Management – not the ultimate objective.

Regardless whether you're talking about transactions between internal groups, or an organization and its customers, or strategic partnerships, or any other type of service exchange relationship, that's exactly what it is – a relationship between a service provider and a service consumer.
Service relationships have numerous "moments of truth" (interactions that have the potential to impact that relationship in a positive or negative way).
Consider the role Knowledge Management plays in ensuring the quality, ease and value of those moments of truth.
What we’re doing is ensuring the consumers of our services have the information they need to actually consume those services in the most optimized manner. That is our ultimate objective.

Let’s look at Incident Management (break fix) as a prime example…
What is the value impact of a comprehensive Knowledge Management practice on Incident Management?
First, the obvious: We deliver institutional support knowledge and customer business information to our Customer Service Professionals. Our goal there is to ensure the CSP can assume a role of Customer Advocate by having ready access to all of the most valuable, relevant information, with the least amount of effort. The intention is to deliver this service in a way that ensures the customer has the best experience they can have.

Of course, one of the core objectives of Knowledge Management is to empower our customers through availability of self-service, social and community channels. Customer Service needs to provide a rich set of capabilities to deliver services through our customers’ preferred channels. But how do we know what those preferred channels are and how do we know the best way to deliver through those channels?

The ideal we must strive for is delivering easily digestible information directly to the consumers, within the tools they use, before they even know to ask for it. With potentially billions of content assets, delivering ‘the right information to the right person in the right place at the right time’ requires rich contextual awareness capabilities. We need to understand who our consumers are, how they work, the business drivers of that work, what knowledge they need, what knowledge they don’t need… We need a rich profiling framework and intimate understanding of the user journeys all our consumers take.

Marketing has been practicing what’s often referred to as “Digital Experience Management”. Essentially, it’s the natural evolution of decades of “Consumer Profiling” applied to digital content delivery channels. The more they know about you, the better they can target ads that will appeal to you, the more money they make with the least amount of effort.
What they’re doing is ensuring the consumers of their services have the information they need to actually consume those services in the most optimized manner.

Knowledge Management IS Digital Experience Management – we’re just broadening the scope.
9  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Apopheniphbia Awareness Campaign Launch on: September 07, 2016, 07:58:42 am
Apophenia is the propensity to see patterns in random data. It was first coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad – a German neurologist and psychiatrist who, perhaps a little ironically, was attempting to identify early indicators of psychosis.
An apophany (an instance of apophenia) can perhaps best be defined in contrast to an epiphany. An epiphany is a moment of sudden and striking realization that leads a person to a greater degree of clarity in the nature of reality – a discovery of a truism, often hidden in plain sight. An apophany is having the experience of an epiphany, but you’re just plain wrong.

We’ve all heard some version of the old adage that correlation does not imply causation.
It can be clearly demonstrated that in neighborhoods where there is an increase in ice cream consumption, there is a roughly equivalent spike in aggravated assault incidents. We’d be foolish to assume that eating ice cream makes people irrationally violent, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing valuable to learn from this. When we broaden the lens a bit, and include other variables, the connections become clearer.
In overpopulated urban environments, where there is a greater concentration of disenfranchised people – people who are statistically more likely to commit poverty crimes, and statistically less likely to have air-conditioned homes – heat waves usher in higher levels of frustration, lower levels of tolerance, and more people eating ice cream. You can also sharpen the focus by throwing in aggravation over public transit failures, brown-outs and black-outs, lower productivity, and countless other factors.
So, while enjoying tasty dairy products does not necessarily incite violence, the correlation between ice cream consumption and violence is not meaningless. Ice cream consumption analysis may indeed provide value as a leading indicator, or bellwether, of the potential for violent acts trending upward in a given community. If not a bellwether, it certainly is a valid correlation – as opposed to a simple coincidence.

The purpose of regression analysis is to identify those variables (referred to as independent variables) that help reveal valid correlations in the phenomena one is attempting to predict (the dependent variable).

Regression analysis is a tricky beast to harness. When the whole point is to find hidden correlations that may even defy intuitive understanding, it can be tempting to throw in the entire kitchen sink and see what comes out. The greatest perceived risk in that arises from patterns that may align, but are nevertheless invalid. These coincidences are referred to as ‘spurious relationships’.
If the patterns of some spurious relationship(s) happen to align with the patterns of other independent variables in a regression analysis model, the accuracy of the model will be impacted, and could be dramatically impacted.

It would be foolish to place any faith in all those quirky coincidences we always hear about with sports teams, for example. There is no reasonably conceivable way the first initial of the middle name of the first child born in some small town after the start of a sport’s season could predict the outcome of a team’s playoff standings – but I’d be genuinely surprised if there wasn’t some spurious relationship to be found there.
On the other hand, we do have a valid argument for replacing the dramatic orchestra strike that foreshadows violent crime in movies with the sound of an ice cream truck.

How do we strike the balance between the desire to uncover hidden variables that provide valuable insight into trends, and the fear of creating an apophenic, potentially psychotic, regression analysis model?

In my nearly two and a half decades of experience in IT, I have come to the conclusion that the field suffers from rampant apopheniphobia: The irrational fear of finding ostensibly meaningful patterns in random data. (Yes, I did just make that word up. © Craig Wilkey, 2016)
Almost invariably, we simply do not push far enough.

Should stock market analysis include things like weather patterns, celebrity news stories and grade school holidays?
Classical stock market analysis techniques don’t work as well as they used to. Why? Frankly, we have a greater number of ignorant people playing the market. The proliferation of “Day Traders” has crippled the old market truisms, because so many people who are affecting the market dynamics don’t have any classical training. The things that affect the moods and daily lives of ‘normal people’ need to be considered, because ‘normal people’ are far more active in the markets than they used to be. If they don’t play by the rules, then some of those rules simply cease to apply.

Apopheniphobia is fueled by fears of falling prey to spurious relationships. Who wants to be known as the person who unleashed a dangerous psychotic algorithm into the world?
People think about the many statistical oddities they’ve come across, and it stunts their creative growth…
For example, did you know that there is a direct correlation between the per capita consumption of margarine and the divorce rate in Maine? Cheese consumption is far more dangerous than margarine consumption – it correlates with the number of people who die by becoming tangled in their bed sheets. (And you thought lactose intolerance was a bad reaction?) The number of people who drowned by falling into a pool also correlates with the number of films Nicholas Cage appeared in from 1999 through 2009.

In IT, we have a tendency to drive toward ‘proving’ clear, unambiguous relationships that quantify efforts, justify means and, more often than not, clearly align to our own preconceived notions. We want to be able to show clear lines of progression and indisputably direct relationships – we tend to believe anything less will not be trusted by those who hold the purse strings.
Our hyper-rational modes of thinking have a tendency to overshadow our creative imaginations – which, almost inevitably, leads to hampered understanding.

Perhaps the greatest value of regression analysis is that it allows us to challenge our preconceived notions and learn something new. The greatest challenge with it is rarely throwing too much data at our models – it’s not having enough.
Yes, I know… We’re IT. We’re awash with data. We’re swimming in lakes of data and constantly inhaling the fumes of endless data exhaust. What we’re missing is the meaningful data extracted from unstructured information sources – in other words, the extraordinarily valuable information that’s locked away in language that has historically been inaccessible to machines – human language.
Estimates have been telling us for a decade or more that 80% of all information in a given organization is in the form unstructured, human-readable text. I think there is nowhere that rings more true or significant than in trying to understand customer experience. I’d also argue that the majority of the most important service information is within that 80%.

Customer Experience Personalization absolutely depends on translating that human-readable text to machine-actionable data.
When it comes to understanding and deriving value from actionable insights within our customer interactions, we must extract as much understanding from that unstructured text as possible and add it all to the other data in our regression models. Apopheniphbia be damned!

While it’s, admittedly, an oversimplification, it’s convenient to talk about two general approaches to extracting data from text.
Text Analytics/Mining breaks the textual input into digestible chunks of string variables and uses statistical modeling techniques to find patterns in those variables.
The ideal of Natural Language Processing is to develop a translation engine between human language and machine language. It uses some of the same statistical modeling approaches as Text Analytics, but goes much further by applying semantic and syntactic analysis to extract meaning, intention, sentiment and key concepts (among other things) covered in the text.

Our best opportunity to achieve our vision of industry-leading Customer Experience Personalization is to take advantage of Natural Language Processing. That barely scratches the surface of what’s possible. Natural Language Processing will enable us to step aggressively toward extracting real meaning from the vast amount of otherwise machine-invisible, extraordinarily valuable content we have. Using that extracted meaning, in conjunction with our structured data points, will allow us to build truly valuable regression analysis models to understand our customers like never before.
Keep pushing until the model breaks, then dial it back a scosche. That is the path to progress.

Apopheniphobia is the enemy of personalization and Customer Relationship Management.
This is why I’ve decided to launch the Apopheniphobia Awareness Campaign.
Please spread the word!
I need to come up with a design for the lapel pin… Maybe a ribbon with as many digits of pi I can squeeze on it – with all the prime digits bolded?
Maybe we can schedule a charity walk… Follow streets in alphabetical order, maybe?
10  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Knowledge Management's Job: Eliminate Knowledge Management on: March 08, 2016, 01:26:04 pm
When you mention Knowledge Management to most people, they think of the knowledge base.

To be sure, building, cultivating and maintaining a comprehensive knowledge base is a critical part of Knowledge Management, but it’s just one piece of much, much larger picture.

Let’s set aside, for the moment, that the knowledge base is only a small fraction of our inventory of available information and knowledge. Still, curating knowledge is but one of the three primary roles of Knowledge Management…

Knowledge Curation focuses on:
  • Gathering existing knowledge & information
  • Capturing knowledge from process execution
  • Fostering a knowledge-sharing culture
  • Building tools and processes to maintain knowledge resources

You can have the most comprehensive knowledge base in the world, but without an equally comprehensive Knowledge Delivery strategy, that’s all it is – a great, big, steaming pile of knowledge.

Knowledge Delivery, the second primary role of Knowledge Management, is chiefly concerned with getting that valuable insight to everyone who needs it – and ensuring it’s presented in a consumable, useful format.

Where most organizations start with Knowledge Delivery is search optimization. Unfortunately, that’s also where many end.

Effective Knowledge Delivery is equal parts search optimization, technology, process engineering, analytics, organizational change management, user interface design, and psychology. The other half is consumer profiling.

Knowledge Delivery requires a thorough understanding of not only what people need to know, but why, how and when they apply that knowledge.

The best way to understand knowledge consumers is through understanding their motivations, the desired outcomes of the multitude of tasks they perform, and the ways they use their tools to accomplish those tasks. The better we know our consumers, the better we can seamlessly integrate knowledge directly into their existing processes and tools.

Rather than forcing consumers to search for knowledge, we should place it right there at their fingertips when it’s needed.

Service Delivery Optimization is the final, and most often overlooked, role of Knowledge Management.

Various systems, scattered across the enterprise, store staggering amounts of valuable data and information about our solutions, historical customer engagements, accounts and resources.

Imagine we have a customer with an aging infrastructure that has been growing increasingly prone to failure, and their contract is nearing expiration. Their internal operations team consistently returns surveys with reasonably high Transactional-CSAT scores, but when their Business Service Owner reaches out to our Account Management team, it’s often with concerns over failure response times, and these emails tend to arrive several weeks after the failures have occurred. These complaints started shortly after a leadership shake-up in the customer’s organization. They’re in the middle of a full infrastructure assessment, and expect to make some critical decisions on a data center tech refresh within the next six months. We have an influential internal champion there who is very well-versed in their legacy environment, but lacks deep understanding of our latest product lines.

Every person who directly (and indirectly) services this customer should be keenly aware of the situation. It’s Knowledge Management’s job to foster that situational awareness.

Such a level of account health and wellness awareness requires performance data, historical serviceability information, market analysis, competitive landscaping, insight from numerous people in different departments, and on and on…

Knowledge Management strives to find new ways of connecting, combining and processing all those data, information and knowledge sources (along with other external sources) to actually create new knowledge – knowledge that enables us to:
  • Deliver highly personalized service
  • Optimize our workforce and processes
  • Uncover revenue opportunities
o   …and make the most of those opportunities

Knowledge Management both welds our processes together, and greases the gears.

My career has spanned across many different disciplines within the scope of IT Service Management over the past two decades. I built that career upon the foundation of one simple premise: If your people are not following your processes, don’t blame the people.

Nowhere is this perspective more clear than in Knowledge Management.

Knowledge Management should be as transparent as it is ubiquitous.

In fact, I’d go a step further and say the ultimate goal of Knowledge Management as a practice is to eliminate Knowledge Management as a process.
11  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Please STOP Measuring Transactional CSAT! on: October 08, 2015, 09:30:32 am
     For the better part of two decades, I have bristled against using Transactional Customer Satisfaction scores (CSAT) to measure the performance of Customer Service Case Managers (Incident Managers, Incident Analysts, call them what you will – I mean the people who wrangle the support resources to resolve customers’ incidents and solve their problems). Until recently, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why, but I had quite a strong reaction against it.

     I could go on for hours (and have) about the inherent drawbacks and inaccuracies of measuring CSAT…
     Who responds to surveys but the very happy and the very unhappy?
     Even if you do get abnormally high response rates – like 1% or greater – pretty much everyone else is doing so from obligation, is generally indifferent and just wants to get on with their day.
     Even if you do apply analysis to separate the wheat from the chaff, you’re still inconveniencing and annoying your customer with surveys.
     Even if you do stumble upon the ideal concoction of alchemy, sorcery and truly extraordinary luck, the best you can hope for when applying hard numbers to performance of soft skills, is to generate a one dimensional, pallid representation of a complex, richly-flavored human experience…

     I am a process engineer at heart… Not just in my career, but across every aspect of my life – and I have been for pretty much my entire life. Measuring a person’s performance on something as subjective and woefully flawed as CSAT deeply offends my sensibilities.
     This is the argument I’ve been making against CSAT measurements throughout my career, but there was something more than that – something much deeper. What I’ve finally come to realize is that, regardless with what level of fidelity you may capture CSAT, the concept itself is fundamentally flawed and actually results in driving customer satisfaction in the wrong direction.
     Measurement drives behavior drives performance... What does measuring Transactional CSAT drive?

Moments of Truth

     Throughout any customer interaction, we encounter a number of opportunities to influence the outcome of the interaction. These “Moments of Truth” are the points in time that make or break any service experience, therefore any service organization. Moments of Truth in a service organization lie, overwhelmingly, within the hands of Customer Service Professionals – and, more often than not, they occur when the customer is already in a difficult, vulnerable position. For better or worse, Case Managers are the face of the organization in the customer’s eyes. The reputation of the entire organization rests squarely upon their shoulders.

     Using CSAT surveys and the like to gauge the quality of a service engagement (and holding those scores over the heads of Customer Service Professionals) starts with a perspective that has proven, time and again over decades, to ultimately lead to failure.
     All transaction-based service interaction metrics – CSAT not being the least of which – belie the entire premise of what a Customer Service Professional is. It reinforces the notion of the Service Desk as an entry-level position, filled with transient employees (or a dead-end job) and undermines any effort to transform the Service Desk as a potential career destination.

     The most crucial skills required to be a successful Customer Service Professional all revolve around building relationships. A quality Customer Service Professional is an advocate for the customer. They have to be able to understand the situation the customer is facing, but anyone with adequate language skills and minimal training can do that well enough. Far more critical than that is exceptional interpersonal acumen.
     If I were to profile my ideal Customer Service Professional, it would look something like this:
•   Personable
•   Places a high degree of importance on honesty and integrity
•   Highly focused and detail-oriented
•   Empathetic
•   Intelligent
•   Exceptional communication skills
•   Secondary education in Psychology
      o    Yes, really!
•   Calm under pressure
•   Confident and assertive, without being arrogant

     The ideal Customer Service Professional should be seen as just that – a professional!
     Far too often, and for far too long, organizations have focused on remediating service failures as quickly and cheaply as possible. They stock their service desks with overworked and underpaid entry-level personnel (or far worse, outsource it to cheap clearing houses).

     Let that sink in for a moment…
     The people hired to be the face of your organization to your customers, at the most critical moments that define your relationship with them, have roughly the same professional profile as the person working at your local coffee shop.

     Don’t align them to your own service and product lines – align them to your customers. They should know the customers intimately. They should understand their business models and customers. They should understand what’s important to them.
     When a customer calls, they should reach someone they have a relationship with… someone they trust… someone that will serve as their advocate, and will work to wrangle the resources and skills required to satisfy their needs.

     The ideal career path up and out of a Service Desk should not be into a technical role – it should be through whatever Customer Success/Trusted Advisor/Customer Experience Management structure your organization has in place.

     We shouldn’t measure CSAT to try and tell us how our Case Managers are doing – we should hire Customer Service Professionals with the appropriate skills and experience to tell us how our customers are doing.
12  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Discussion around a glass of water... on: October 07, 2015, 10:13:47 am
(This is definitely more general philosophy than Service Management, but I think it fits better here than in my General Ramblings blog section.)

Pessimist: This glass is half empty.

Optimist: It's half full!

Engineer: The glass is operating at 50% capacity. My research shows the optimal operating capacity is 92.3%. We should transfer the water to an appropriately-sized glass, and keep the larger glass readily available for unexpected peaks in demand.

Middle Manager: With this increased efficiency, we can fire the engineer!

Paranoid: Did someone poison this water?

Conspiracy Theorist: The government did.

Schizophrenic: With alien DNA!

Pragmatist: You're all missing the point! What's the best use of this water?

Communist: Let the people decide!

Democrat: Well... 51% of the people, anyway.

Republican: The people don't know what's best for them. That's why they elected us to decide FOR them!

Socialist: The state should find the best method of distributing the water among the people in the most equitable fashion.

Liberal: Good idea! Give each person one drop of water, starting with those in the most need. When we run out, we'll figure something else out.

Cynic: You're only saying that because it makes you feel better about yourself.

Aristocrat: Wait! What?? If you give it to the rich, who benevolently support the poor, you'll help MANY more people than if you give it to the poor – who don't matter anyway!

Conservative: You can redistribute this water when you pry it from my cold, dead hands! I earned this glass of water and will defend it, and the other 50,000 gallons in my basement, with deadly force, if I have to!

Libertarian: Screw all of you. I'm going to get my own water.

Anarchist: We should all be responsible for getting our own water. People's inherent compassion, integrity and good sense will result in the most equitable cooperative conglomerates.

Marketing Executive: This stylish, functional glass will continue to quench your thirst for the rest of your life.

Lawyer: (*Endless supply of water not included.)

Sales Executive: Don't worry. I'll make sure you always get the lowest water rates.

Corporate Executive: Lifetime glasses leaves us with diminishing demand. We need to make these glasses more fragile.

Fashionista: That glass is so last week, ANYWAY...

Hippie: Water should be free for all!

Capitalist: OK. But you have to pay license fees to use the glass.

CEO: Brilliant! Fire the imbecile who came up with the fragile glasses and hire that guy!

The Thirsty People: Put the imbecile in Congress!
13  Craig's Blog / General Ramblings / Re: iPhone Palmistry on: March 18, 2014, 12:18:45 pm
14  Craig's Blog / ITSM/ITIL Ramblings / Re: MY Call to Action – Are You Listening, itSMF USA? on: March 17, 2014, 07:00:59 am
Thanks for the comments, and thanks for showing that itSMF IS listening, Charlie.

I agree, to a point... I wouldn't have a problem "adding to" ITIL, just to have to pay to buy it back IF I felt that we had ownership of ITIL and IF the framework were responsive (as I've said before, by the time the books roll out of the printers, it's time for an update already).
Neither of these are currently true.

Service Management certainly should not be exclusively ITIL-driven, but I don't necessarily think we need a new framework, either.
What I think we need most of all is open, productive discussions about:
   Ways in which ITIL has been adapted to specific verticals
   How people have used different frameworks, and ways in which multiple frameworks have been integrated together
   Ways that people have successfully adapted Service Management frameworks and models to their advantage
   Practical applications of alternative methods
   Emerging practices (Standard+Case, USMBoK, etc.)

As an update, I am now a member of the "Multiple Engagement Models" committee, and we will be looking at ways to improve member engagement, sharing and collaboration.

I will keep you posted.
15  Craig's Blog / General Ramblings / Re: iPhone Palmistry on: March 01, 2014, 09:49:26 am
Yeah... A few stupid typos and mistakes...

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