Dog the Bounty Hunter Uses KM!

See how Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman uses Knowledge Management (KM) principles to catch bond jumpers and become one of the most successful bail bondsmen in the United States.

Duane "Dog" Chapman, famous bounty hunter

Duane “Dog” Chapman, famous bounty hunter

Duane Chapman, AKA “Dog the Bounty Hunter”, is one of the most successful bail bondsmen in the United States.  He is so well-known for his skills that not only do other bondsmen outsource tough cases to the Dog, but he also has a show on the CMT network in the United States.  Most of Chapman’s skills can be attributed to using the knowledge management principles of people, processes, technology and content.  Without KM, Chapman (and other law enforcement personnel) would not be able to function.

How Dog uses KM for His Job

People

The bail jumper’s own social network of family and enemies
Family members and enemies of the bail jumper want to see the person caught for different reasons.  Many times Dog is able to get enough information to find the bail jumper.

The “people on the street”, like neighbors and regulars in the neighborhood
Neighbors and regulars in the neighborhood have regularly given Dog and his team information about the bail jumper.  It also helps Dog get the bail jumper to surrender because the bail jumper will realize that the net is widening and the “safe houses” are becoming few and far between.

Informants
Informants will often “snitch” to either get a better deal with their punishment or to collect reward money.  While some of the information is not valid, Dog and his team will occasionally collect information to help put them on the right track.
Dog’s network of bail bondsmen
In particularly tough cases, one may need more help.  Dog has reached out to his fellow bail bondsmen to help him find the bail jumper, and the bail bondsmen have reached out to him to help them as well.
Dog's teamRegular meetings with his team
Before they begin a hunt, Dog gathers his team to gather information about the bail jumper, such as vital statistics, contact information, whether the warrants are still active, and whether the bail jumper is potentially armed and dangerous.  Dog also uses these meetings to prepare the team for any danger that they may encounter, such as whether they will venture in a high-crime or remote area of Hawaii.  This helps ensure that the team is not going to jeopardize the business or their lives.

Processes

Offers incentives for information
Money talks.  By offering cash rewards for information leading up to the arrest of a bail jumper, people are more apt to talk.

Does checks and balances before writing bonds and pursuing bond jumpers
If a bail bondsman is going to write bail for a person, the bondsman must make sure that the person has the means to cover the bond should something go wrong, and the bondsman must make sure that the information is accurate.  A mistake could cost the bondsman serious money should something go wrong.  A bail bondsman MUST make sure that there is an active warrant for the bond jumper’s arrest or there is written confirmation from the cosigner that the bail is being revoked.  If the bail bondsman doesn’t have this information, the bondsman faces criminal and/or civil charges if s/he “catches” the bail jumper and there is no warrant or revocation.  Dog makes his team double-check to make sure that warrants are active or there is a revocation before attempting to catch the bail jumper.

Goes to certain areas of town well prepared
Dog’s team frequently ventures into dangerous territory, like high-crime neighborhoods and jungles.  The team makes sure that they have the appropriate protection and tools, and they make sure that their vehicles are well-maintained.
Takes a personal approach with people, and only gets rude if threatened
Dog and his team understand that there is power in the personal touch, so they will approach people politely.   Like that old saying – “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”.  They also use this technique to talk to the caught bail jumper to help that person straighten out his or her life.  However, they will take a stand if a person gets belligerent or violent.

Technology

Uses social media sites to find bond jumpers
The team will check whether the jumper has a page on social media sites, and if so, the team will regularly check it to see if the person is posting on it.  From this, they can collect information about where the jumper is located through both social engineering (pretend to be a friend) and computer forensics.
Uses law enforcement systems
Since bail bondsmen need to ensure that warrants are still active on a jumper, or if the police have already arrested the jumper, they need a way to check that.  The team has access to law enforcement systems to check on a daily basis whether the jumper has already been arrested or if the warrant is still active before spending time on a hunt.
Uses simple computer and telecommunications forensics for tracing
This tool is helpful because sometimes they don’t necessarily get the correct information.  If they’re able to get the number from Caller ID, they will call the phone company and trace where the number is coming from.  They’ve also used basic simple computer forensics to find out where the person is really located.   In a recent case, a jumper’s family kept telling Dog that the jumper went to Texas.  Meanwhile, the team discovered that the jumper posted a very recent picture on Facebook.  Once they scanned the digital information from the picture, the team was able to discover that the jumper was still in Hawaii.
Uses GPS
Since the team is frequently asked to help with other cases in other states, the team will frequently use GPS to take them to various addresses relatively quickly.  Time is of the essence for catching bail jumpers, and this tool has helped them save time.
Uses 2-way radios
In order for the team to be able to communicate with each other while they’re on the hunt, the team frequently uses 2-way radios to be able to talk to each other and make sure that everyone on the team is on the same page.  If one group gets vital information (ex: the bail jumper is surrendering) and it can’t get to the other group, they may be wasting resources and time.
Uses “dumpster diving” to collect information
While this isn’t high-tech, this is a technology that the team uses when all else fails.  In a recent case, much of the bail jumper’s information on the application was no longer valid, and the bail jumper’s family was not cooperative or forthright in giving information.  The team decided to dig through trash cans to find any information to place the bail jumper at the location.  The team found a magazine with the bail jumper’s girlfriend’s address on it.  Not only were they able to place the jumper in the area, but they were able to get the correct address for the jumper’s girlfriend.

Content

Dog-Bounty-Hunter-tv-16Experienced personnel to filter out the bad leads
Unfortunately, not all the information that they receive is correct or true.  Family members who want to protect the bail jumper will often give false information to try to throw Dog’s team off the trail.  Certain members of the team who are experienced in bounty hunting will often conduct the “in person” interviews with people and review information received through other sources to determine whether the informant is lying or telling the truth.

Verification of information
When a bondsman is writing a bond, that bondsman is putting the business’s money at stake.  Dog and his team will ensure that the information that the person is entering on the application is valid (at that time).  The team has called phone numbers listed on the application to verify employment and to verify that the information about the cosigner is correct (ex: person actually owns a house or other collateral).​

When KM Goes Wrong: McResource Line

Successful knowledge management is indicated by when information is shared effectively, and when the knowledge allows individuals to make good process decisions.  The intention of McDonalds McResource Line was to allow employees to understand what’s going on in the company and get free knowledge and assistance to allow the employees to make good decisions with their day-to-day life and career.  Unfortunately, the McResource Line didn’t work out that way.  It became such a public relations disaster that on December 27th, McDonalds shut down the site.  So what went wrong?  There are three things that I believe went wrong with this KM effort.

  • The way the knowledge was presented caused too many issues.  One thing that you don’t want as a company is bad publicity, and the way the content was presented on the site caused bad publicity for McDonalds.   A major criticism that McDonalds receives from activist groups is the low wages and lack of full-time opportunities for the crew workers to make a living.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average McDonalds worker makes $7.63/hour, works 30 hours per week, and is a median age of 32 years old.   In addition, an October 2013 study by the University of California Berkeley that received major news coverage reported that 52% of fast-food workers receive some form of public assistance such as Medicaid, food stamps, Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid for Needy Families.  Of the $7 billion dollars in government aid granted to fast food workers, McDonalds workers account for $1.2 billion dollars of the aid.   Knowing this, McDonalds needed to be sensitive to how content was presented on the site.  Unfortunately, posting tips such as “separate food in smaller pieces to create an illusion of fullness” , “take 2 vacations a year to reduce stress”, “take a second job and turn off the heat to make ends meet” and “sell your holiday presents on Ebay to make more money” appears to be condescending to employees who are working at McDonalds as their primary source of income to provide food, clothing and shelter to their families.  It comes across to the general public as someone suggesting to a person who can’t afford to buy bread to eat cake instead.
  • The content presented to the employees wasn’t useful, relevant or complete.  There were a few examples of this on the site:
    • To help employees with better managing their money, the site published a suggested budget to follow.  However, there were a few issues with the budget.  First, the budget only alloted $20/month in health care costs.  Second, the budget did not account for food and transportation costs.  Third, the budget figured in $600/month in rent for a worker in New York City.  Finally, the budget included a line with the assumption that the person will work a second job to help augment one’s income, which gives the impression that one can’t survive on McDonalds wages alone.
    • The McResource site published common-knowledge advice such as “eating a diet high in fats puts people at risk for becoming overweight” and “if your mortgage payment is too high, refinance your payment to a lower rate or downsize your house”.
    • The McResource site published tips on how to tip a pool cleaner, housekeeper and an au pair/nanny.  It is highly unlikely that a regular crew working making $7.63/hour working 30 hours per week and possibly collecting public assistance has a pool cleaner, housekeeper and an au pair working for them.
  • The content managers and McDonalds did a poor job with managing the knowledge. Based on the content presented on the site, it appears that the content managers and knowledge suppliers really didn’t understand the target audience for the site.  In addition, it also appears that they really didn’t pay attention to how information was presented.  The recent debacle that inspired McDonalds to shut down the McResource Line was how the tips for healthy eating were presented on the site.  While it is absolutely true that it’s better to eat salads, low-fat sandwiches and water instead of hamburgers, french fries and soda pop, it didn’t help McDonalds that the pictures of the hamburger, fries and soda pop had labels in “McDonalds red”, while the water and low-fat sandwich resembled the rival Subway chain’s food.   I don’t think the content managers, which appears to be an outside vendor that McDonalds hired to work on the site, were entirely to blame.  McDonalds should have been paying closer attention to what was published on the site.

Introduction to the Knowledge Lifecycle

It’s important for all organizations to be able to access knowledge to make important decisions that could impact their mission or business. It’s also critical that the knowledge is accurate, current and relevant. The Knowledge Lifecycle is the process that ensures that the information is accurate, current and relevant. Depending upon the organization’s staffing, a knowledge management team,  a web content management team, and/or individual teams within the organizations are often responsible for ensuring the knowledge is accurate, current and relevant on all portals, such as:  SharePoint intranet portals, public web sites, and Facebook pages.   The Knowledge Lifecycle helps teams to be able to manage the knowledge to ensure that the information is accurate, current and relevant.

The Process

kmlifecycle

Figure: The Knowledge Lifecycle

The process has seven phases.

1.  Planning

In this phase, this is where you plan on the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of knowledge capture, storage and management.  At this stage, you would more than likely have a mission from your managerial staff regarding what you are supposed to do, so this mission will help you craft your questions and answers.
Questions that you would ask during this phase are:

•  What do you need to capture?
If your mission is to have a centralized location to access industry standards and practices, you would want to capture information such as scientific journals, whitepapers, legal briefs, and government briefs.  You would not be interested in collecting cake recipes or pictures of team members dressed as Disney characters at the last Halloween party.
•  Who will supply the knowledge?
One of the concepts of knowledge management is to collect accurate information, and you would want to choose the best experts that could supply the information.  Going back to our example mission of providing a centralized location to access industry standards and practices – your knowledge suppliers will probably be industry experts, legal personnel, and/or individuals who work with standards and practices.
•  When will you get the knowledge and how often?
If you have received a mission from your managerial staff, you may have already received a timeline as to when this solution needs to be available.  In some cases, you may be working in a field where the knowledge is constantly changing.
•  Where is it going to be stored?
When you are selecting a solution for this, you have to take the following into consideration:

o Where is everyone located?
o Are there regulations that require the information to be located from one network, or can this information be accessed from any Internet connection?
o Are there regulations that require security measures to be able to access the information?
o Can everybody get to the possible locations?

With this question, you may have to “tag-team” with your IT team to help with creating an answer.  For example, depending on who needs to have access to the knowledge, you may need to select a portal that’s accessible from any network, or you may be able to just host it on a local network drive in an isolated network.
•  In which format will you make it available?
Basically, this is how you are going to store the knowledge, and your selection will depend upon how the data will be managed. Some formats include:

o PDF Files
o Multimedia files (audio and video)
o Wiki pages or other dynamic content pages (such as WordPress)

If your knowledge has to go through a change management process before allowing for changes,  it’s best to use a PDF file to prevent people from being able to “corrupt” the knowledge in the documentation.   If the knowledge frequently changes, and you have multiple people contributing to the knowledge, it’s best to use a wiki page or a dynamic content page.

If you are able to use this capability, multimedia files are a fantastic delivery method since we all learn and absorb information differently.

Real life example of content delivery -  Microsoft has on-line help for their products, and they use a variety of delivery methods such as web pages, documents, videos, and audio podcasts.

•  How will you capture the knowledge?
There are many methods to use to capture knowledge.  Some methods include:

o Interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs)
o Collect documentation from SMEs
o Have SMEs contribute knowledge to a central repository like a wiki site, portal site, or a network drive
o Perform research

You may end up using one or many methods to capture the knowledge.  As you capture the knowledge, you will also need to have a procedure in place to review the knowledge for inaccuracies and clarity.

2.  Collection, creation, receipt and capture

In this step, this is where you gather the information using the KM principles of people, process and technology.
•  People:  Conduct interviews with SMEs; hold worksessions for gathering knowledge

Processes:  Require SMEs to create documentation on their day-to-day activities; require SMEs to provide weekly knowledge updates based on a timeline

Technology:  Have SMEs upload documentation to a central location such as a portal or network drive; use the Internet to perform research

3.  Organization
Before finalizing the knowledge and making it available, a process for reviewing the knowledge for accuracy, relevancy, and readability occurs here.  In addition to the review, a “librarian” applies taxonomy, or categorizes and arranges the knowledge, for easy access and organization.

Taxonomy: a process of classifying things or concepts.

4.  Use and Dissemination
This is where the knowledge is assigned classifications and permissions.  Assigning the classifications determines how the knowledge can be distributed to others.  For information about classification in countries including the United States, reference the following article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classified_information.

Based on the determination made during the planning stage on who is supposed to have access to the knowledge, the actual access permissions are applied to the knowledge repository.

5.  Maintenance, Protection and Preservation
Even though you may already have your initial knowledge, you have to have a process in place to ensure that the information doesn’t get stale, and you have to have a process in place on handling updates to the information.

An example process is to assign a review date to the information of 3-6 months.  When the date arrives, have an SME review the knowledge to see if it needs to be updated, archived or deleted.  If a change is necessary, there should be a change process in place to keep track of changes made to the knowledge.  There should be a versioning process set in place to keep track of the changes.

6.  Disposition
In knowledge management, “disposition” is a fancy word for “how are you going to handle outdated knowledge”.  Based on government requirements, corporate policies, and/or legal rules, this is where you determine whether outdated knowledge needs to be archived or deleted.  If there are no government requirements, corporate policies, and/or legal rules that compel you to archive the knowledge, it’s best to remove (delete) the outdated knowledge.

7.  Evaluation
The knowledge lifecycle is a fluid process, and in this stage, you analyze the entire process and determine whether improvements need to be made to the process.  You can do a “post-mortem” report after the initial knowledge capture to determine what was done correctly, what needed to be improved upon, and what can be done next time to make it better.  The lessons learned from the evaluation stage can then pass back to the planning stage for the next knowledge capture effort.

So that’s the knowledge lifecycle in a nutshell.  By following the knowledge lifecycle, we can ensure that staff members aren’t searching through massive amounts of information to find the most current and relevant information.

The Ultimate Tag Team: WWE and Knowledge Management

Takeaways:
  • Learn how the WWE used KM to save the organization from bankruptcy and build it into the powerhouse that it is today

WWE LogoWorld Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is a publicly-traded organization (NYSE: WWE) that primarily deals with professional wrestling, and it is currently the largest professional wrestling promotion in the world.  However, this wasn’t always the case.  In the early 1990s, the company experienced a setback.  In 1994, Vince McMahon, the WWE’s owner, was tried and acquitted of distributed steroids, and in 1993, a group of employees accused 3 WWE officials of sexual harassment, which was reported by numerous news outlets.  Between the scandal and the criminal trial, the company began losing revenue, forcing McMahon to cut staff and wages by up to 50%.  In addition, his main competition, Ted Turner’s WCW, began overtaking his product in television ratings and revenue.  By 1996, the WWE was near bankruptcy.  McMahon realized that his current formula wasn’t working anymore, and he had to do something fast or he would lose his company.  How did Vince McMahon take his company from near bankruptcy in 1996 to a net worth of over $1 billion dollars in 2000 to a publicly-traded company today? By using knowledge management.

What KM Practices Were Used to Save the Company?

Collaboration with ALL Employees and Contractors

Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO, World Wrestling Entertainment

Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO, World Wrestling Entertainment

In the past, Vince McMahon and a small team of individuals who were experienced with promoting wrestling events designed and developed the product, which included: marketing, talent casting and storyline development. WWE employees and the performers (who were considered contractors by the WWE) had no say in the direction of the company nor did they have a say in the product development (ex: character development, storylines). McMahon realized that what he and his team were developing was no longer working by looking at the drop in ratings and sagging revenue from live event attendance and product purchases.

McMahon had a meeting with his staff and contractors (wrestlers) and told them that the formula that he used in the past was no longer working, he didn’t know what to do, and he was open to ideas on how to fix it. Some of the ideas that he received that helped improve the company’s fortunes include:

  • A magazine writer on his staff proposed ideas directly to McMahon on ways to improve the product. He proposed that: the product should start skewing to a different audience; performers should have a say in their character development and storylines; the publication should start writing stories as if it is entertainment and not as “real life” (ex: cartoon character-type wrestlers aren’t really like what they are on TV); and the company should start paying attention to the current pop-culture trends (ex: increased Internet usage) so it can stay relevant.
  • Wrestlers proposed ideas on how they want to be portrayed and marketed. As long as it didn’t violate any FCC or copyright rules, McMahon let them try it to see if it would work. (Note: One of the most successful character development ideas that came from a wrestler was “Stone Cold” Steve Austin)
  • In the past, McMahon never watched shows from his competition. He never really had to because he didn’t have to go to the competition to recruit performers – they came to his company to try to get work. Staff members encouraged McMahon and his senior staff to watch the competition to help better his own company. By watching the competition, McMahon was able to learn what the competition was doing right to get the audience and what the competition was doing wrong (or not doing at all) so the WWE can take advantage of the competition’s weaknesses.

Using Social Media to Gather Intelligence and Gain Fans

We already know about the impact of social media today, such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Before there was Facebook and Twitter, the Internet had message boards and chat rooms for social media. Wrestling fans from around the world were using these tools to communicate with each other. Fans would express their opinions about the wrestling product (and other interests), and some fans would use these tools to write their own storylines and ideas.

Technology-savvy WWE creative staff saw the potential with using these tools to gauge opinion about their product, gather ideas for storylines, and gain fans by getting the performers to participate on message boards and chat rooms.

For intelligence gathering, staff would pretend to be wrestling fans and join the boards or chat rooms to get information and ideas. If there was an overwhelming amount of praise or criticism for a direction or a performer, the staff would use that information to either continue with what they are doing or change course.

The company also set up their own web site and set up a chat room to encourage fans to communicate with one another. In addition, the company sponsored events where they scheduled chat sessions with their performers to allow fans to directly speak to that performer via the chat room. This helped build a fan base since the fan felt that he or she was personally connected to a particular performer because he or she was able to talk to them.

Knowledge and Resource Sharing with Other Organizations

Before the WWE began improving, McMahon and his executive staff took notice of a trend that was happening at the WWE’s live events and television broadcasts. A healthy percentage of his audience were holding up signs and chanting “ECW!” at WWE events. ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) was a small organization that was beginning to build a large fan base and television audience due to word-of-mouth advertising and fanbase advertising through message boards and chat rooms. Rather than ignore the people or eject the people chanting another organization’s name, McMahon and his staff started paying attention.

McMahon reached out to the owners of ECW to collaborate with them on ways that both organizations can grow their audience and increase their television market. McMahon also used it as an opportunity to find out how ECW was growing a fan base on a shoestring budget (ECW marketed their product where the fans felt like they were actually part of the organization, and as a result, the FANS did all the advertising for ECW).

Besides adding another factor to gain a fan base, it also gave him another perspective to help him make strategic decisions on his company’s direction. He was able to learn about how to get fans more involved in the product, and he was able to get tips on low-cost marketing.

Using Technology for Knowledge Sharing

In the 1990’s, the Internet was growing in leaps and bounds. Using the Internet as a marketing tool was a low-cost alternative to television, radio and marketing ads. The WWE used the message boards to advertise upcoming pay-per-view events, and they started experimenting with streaming broadcasts of events typically not found on television to help pique people’s interest in the product. The WWE also used their Internet site to market their performers to help get fans to connect to them. For example:

A successful Internet marketing campaign that the WWE implemented was they marketed one of their female performers as a sex symbol. That campaign ended up reaching outside of the wrestling market, and the woman ended up as the most downloadedcelebrity off the Internet and featured on numerous non-wrestling programs.

One of the other things that the WWE did to help their business operations was they used their Internet site to publish company information (such as financial information, attendance figures, and viewership figures). This helped the company in the following ways:

  • This gave television networks from around the world an idea of what the WWE could bring to their network. A highly-rated show on a network equals more advertising dollars since companies are more apt to spend money on a show watched by 5 million people versus a show watched by 500,000 people.
  • This gave companies an idea of whether advertising their product on a WWE television show or live event would get a good return on investment. Companies had an idea of who was watching the programming and attending the events, and how many people were watching the programming and attending the events.

A Fantastic Primer on Knowledge Management

knowledge3While corporations and government entities understand the importance and impact that knowledge management has on its organization, knowledge management is still a misunderstood discipline.   Caroline De Brun of NHS wrote a fantastic primer on knowledge management called ABCs of Knowledge Management.  For those who are new to knowledge management, this is a great starting point on understanding what knowledge management is and how to implement it in an organization.

You can get a copy of the primer by clicking on the following link:  ABCs of Knowledge Management.