How Shepley Bulfinch Improved Knowledge Sharing through Measurement

AskFinch Defining Moment

The Defining Moment

In 2014, Mark Finneral, a director and technical architect at Shepley Bulfinch, logged over 177 questions and answers in an excel spreadsheet.

Mark was a magnet for questions because he is both technically savvy and a “nice guy.” Folks from both inside and outside the firm asked him very detailed, technical questions. While he was more than happy to answer the questions, he was starting to become concerned that the value he was providing to other project teams was coming at the expense of his utilization rate on his own projects. Perhaps even more concerning to Mark, was the the fact that only the people who asked him questions got value out of the face-to-face exchanges. (Well, Mark found the exchanges personally valuable as well.)

When the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) at Shepley Bulfinch learned about Mark’s spreadsheet, they realized they had a problem, which led them to ask the following questions:

  1. Is the quality of answers people are getting dependent on who they know and where they sit?
  2. Are we answering the same questions over and over?
  3. Are we learning from the experience of others?

So what did Shepley Bulfinch do?

Using Lean principles, the TAG group diagrammed the current process and came up with the following problem statement: “We have no system for sharing questions and answers firmwide.” Through a series of working meetings, they designed “#AskFinch”, a process for asking and answering technical questions on their intranet. In September of 2014, the TAG group rolled out #AskFinch across the firm with success measures built in.

AskFinch Example

How did it go?

Over the first five quarters of #AskFinch, employees at Shepley Bulfinch asked 136 technical questions and provided 466 answers. 54% of the firm has answered at least one question and 63% of the answers came from outside the Technical Advisory Group. The TAG group considers these results to be a huge win.

AskFinch KPIs

Working Out Loud at Shepley Bulfinch

Jim Martin, Shepley Bulfinch’s Chief Information Officer, shared this story with us at KA Connect 2016. Inspired by Rachel Happe and The Community Roundtable’s Working Out Loud Framework, Jim walks through specific examples of how his firm has taken advantage of concepts such as Validate Out Loud, Share Out Loud, Ask & Answer Out Loud, and Explore Out Loud to improve knowledge sharing at Shepley Bulfinch.

We hope you enjoy it.

#AskFinch: How Shepley Bulfinch Improved Knowledge Sharing through Measurement

Jim Martin of Shepley Bulfinch at KA Connect 2016.

00:50 How and Why Shepley Bulfinch used The Community Roundtable’s Working Out Loud Framework
02:12 Working Out Loud Stage #1: Validate Out Loud
02:26 How Validating Out Loud Creates Value for Shepley Bulfinch’s Employees and the Business
05:09 Key Performance Indicators for Validating Out Loud
06:04 Strategies and Tactics for Getting Employees to Validate Out Loud
07:45 Working Out Loud Stage #2: Share Out Loud
08:12 How Sharing Out Loud Creates Value for Shepley Bulfinch’s Employees and the Business
11:45 Key Performance Indicators for Sharing Out Loud
12:39 Strategies and Tactics for Getting Employees to Share Out Loud
14:41 The Defining Moment Which Led to #AskFinch
17:18 The Problem Statement: “We have no system for sharing questions and answers firmwide.”
18:36 The Solution: Designing and Launching the #AskFinch Process
20:35 Working Out Loud Stage #3: Asking & Answering Out Loud
20:53 How Asking & Answering Out Loud Creates Value for Shepley Bulfinch’s Employees and the Business
23:30 Key Performance Indicators for Asking & Answering Out Loud
01:10 Strategies and Tactics for Getting Employees to Ask & Answer Out Loud
01:50 Working Out Loud Stage #4: Exploring Out Loud
02:06 Emergent Examples of Exploring Out Loud at Shepley Bulfinch
03:51 How Exploring Out Loud Might Create Value for Shepley Bulfinch’s Employees and the Business in the Future
04:43 Potential Key Performance Indicators for Exploring Out Loud
05:10 Potential Strategies and Tactics for Getting Employees to Explore Out Loud
05:36 What’s Next?

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Q+A with Jim Martin: Knowledge Management at Shepley Bulfinch

Christopher Parsons of Knowledge Architecture interviews Jim Martin of Shepley Bulfinch at KA Connect 2016.

00:00 When did you figure out you were on a Knowledge Management journey?
00:28 How did learning that you were on a Knowledge Management journey change your approach to your work?
01:35 How did you design #AskFinch?
04:35 What do you wish you’d known when you started the Ask & Answer Out Loud program?
06:01 What’s next for #AskFinch over the next six, twelve, or eighteen months?
07:03 Are you worried about becoming a victim of your own success? Could there be too many questions asked on your intranet?
08:05 What is your desired knowledge sharing dynamic between internal and external communities? For example, the Dynamo community inside Shepley Bulfinch, the Boston Dynamo community, and the global Dynamo community?
09:38 Have you seen evidence of a digital divide in the #AskFinch program in terms of responses? Have you noticed patterns which would indicate the best time to ask questions in order to get timely responses?
11:15 How do you keep people from shutting each other down in an online Q+A system?
12:35 Can you tell us about how you prepared your (mostly first time) Community Managers for potentially difficult situations they might face with their intranet communities?
14:07 What technology are you using to support #AskFinch?
15:33 What your favorite part of your job?

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Posted: November 11th, 2016 | Filed under: Featured Talks | Tags: | Comments Off on How Shepley Bulfinch Improved Knowledge Sharing through Measurement

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