Re: Guidance for building KM in Hi-tech startup #startup

Stephen Bounds

Hi Patrick,

I'm not sure if a Wardley map is exactly the right framework to use, since one of the key aspects of his method is the idea that as a technology matures it tends towards commodification. I'm not sure if that was the focus you intended with your suggestion.

Back in around 2007, Fujitsu pioneered the idea of a "results chain" framework, which is visually similar but more closely aligned to your idea. They appear to have made the text describing the main aspects of the approach freely available (see pp27 onwards).

I've used the concept quite a few times, and particularly like the idea of tracking through intermediate and final outcomes; I do tend to find the "Assumptions" annotations a bit extraneous though. On the hand, I wasn't using this in a consulting context and so there was less pressure to "show my working" 😁


Stephen Bounds
Executive, Information Management
E: stephen.bounds@...
M: 0401 829 096
On 20/05/2021 5:25 pm, Patrick Lambe wrote:

Has anyone here used Wardley maps in this kind of KM context? I suspect they would be useful in zeroing in on critical KM capabilities in relation to product and service deliverables. And the technique was originally developed in the context of startups/ high tech companies.

The challenge in this kind of situation is lack of deep understanding of how KM ecosystems work among the key stakeholders and so they might end up identifying KM initiatives that look like they might be useful in principle, but end up feeling like housekeeping measures and eventually run out of supportive steam. Wardley maps are meant to help teams dig into and zero in on critical capabilities in the value chain. I suspect the technique would be useful but haven’t seen explicit examples in a KM context. Anyone?


Patrick Lambe
Straits Knowledge

phone:  +65 98528511

knowledge mapping:

On 20 May 2021, at 2:53 PM, Stephen Bounds <km@...> wrote:

Hi Jay,

Sounds like you have a perfect case for undertaking a RROI (relative return on investment) evaluation.

From what you have said, you've already identified three key metrics to target, each of which is a clear proxy for an ultimate business goal:

  • Increased customer retention (proxy metric for increased revenue)
  • Higher sales conversion rate (proxy metric for increased revenue)
  • Decreased onboarding time for sales team (proxy metric for decreased cost of sales)

To complete an RROI evaluation, the basic stages are:

  1. Identify ultimate goals and create a method for valuing goal outcomes. This can be skipped, since it looks like you have a direct revenue goal. Some organisations (eg governments) need to assign a nominal dollar value another way, perhaps by looking at calculating lost client productivity.
  2. Identify proximate goals and options to target them. You have already identified the proximate goals, so the next step is to brainstorm a range of ways to "shift the needle".
  3. Model impact of options on proximate goals. In other words, what rate of change in proximate goals are you targeting and how much would it cost to implement the option you've identified?
  4. Model change in ultimate goals based on change in proximate goals. For example, if your average retained customer pays $1000 / month, a 1% increase in retention on 1000 new customers annually is worth $120,000 a year.
  5. Compare benefits to costs to find the RROI of each initiative. This is simply dividing the benefit achieved by the cost, similar to a conventional cost-benefit analysis. Use this rank to recommend the highest benefit:cost ratio first!

There's a fully worked example on page 5 of my KM4Dev paper about RROI, which is freely available online.


Stephen Bounds
Executive, Information Management
E: stephen.bounds@...
M: 0401 829 096
On 20/05/2021 11:46 am, Jay Kreshel wrote:
Thanks for the reply. My boss EVP in Customer Success works on the executive staff. His discussions with the head of Marketing and Head of Sales. Their objectives are mostly around: 
  • Decreasing the amount of time our customers take to get value out of the application. 

  • Minimizing the misunderstandings for the sales team
  • Increasing customer retention. If we can get the Customer Success team to know all of the use cases around the products, they can share the whole value around the solution, thus increasing retention.
  • Increasing the ramp time for sales, CS. We will increase the pace of hiring and will need to help them to know about our product & industry in as a short period of time as possible.

We have been working for the past few months on new product releases and enablement for our customer-facing teams. We have technology, software, processes, & people that we have used to "appropriately" spread knowledge to the audiences, But, to your point, we have not been targeted in our approach. And we have not picked that key "Pain Point" that we should start with. 

Any thoughts as to which would be the highest reward with ease of implementation? to get that Bang for our early buck?


On Wed, May 19, 2021 at 6:15 PM Tom Short <tshortconsulting@...> wrote:

Who’s asking you to do it? Depending on where it’s coming from, it could reduce the emphasis placed on developing a complete value proposition for exec staff, at least in terms of a heavily quantifiable one. 

As for your approach, I’d start by trying to understand where the biggest gaps are that KM-type approaches might be able to bridge. Where are places where there is the most variance in performance among people doing similar types of work? Which processes have high variance of outcome? Which processes leverage the most amount of resource, either in terms of inputs or outcomes? 

By understanding this a bit more you’ll be in a good place to identify potential pain points that KM can address, and where the bang for KM buck is the greatest. 

If you’d like to read more about his type of approach check out this chapter I wrote on KM Lessons Learned:

(PS - after 20 years as a KM practitioner I retired and now work with tech startups in the Bay Area through an accelerator and via referrals). 

Good luck.

Tom Short Consulting
+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts

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