I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

Swarming is a behaviour commonly associated with insects, though birds and fish and crowds of people often exhibit the same types of behaviour. Intelligent Swarming is the term used for a collaborative support model created by the Consortium for Service Innovation (CSI). The framework removes barriers to collaboration in existing knowledge-centered support to improve information sharing, documentation, and service response.

CSI recently released a white paper on the staged implementation of Intelligent Swarming at Autodesk. The company selected this form of formal collaboration among the groups supporting their new Fusion 360 product as a pilot study.

The guiding principles Autodesk selected contributed to the project’s success: minimal changes to existing processes, use of collaboration tools already in use by the company and participants, assigning specific roles to document knowledge shared or learned, and full transparency into the shared communications of the entire team. Keeping the scope of change small, designing in accountability, and emphasizing open communication improved the project’s chances for success.

By using metrics from other product lines as a benchmark, Autodesk identified key measurable improvements in customer support and employee engagement. The white paper has detailed notes on contributing factors in the success of the studied implementation of Intelligent Swarming.

Intelligent Swarming shines when service delivery relies on getting and keeping people in different areas or functions collaborating, metrics for service and operational outcomes matter, and the organization has a culture that is amenable to open communication. I can think of a few workplaces where silos or imprecise approaches to measuring service would doom this approach due to poor culture fit.

I learned about CSI and Knowledge-Centered Service through readings on knowledge management within the ITIL framework. I hope to digest and summarize the group’s other major initiatives over the next few months as my schedule allows.

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