Originally published on December 19, 2017

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1. Introduction

2. Section 1: KM Thought Leaders who are DEC Alumni

3. Section 2: Articles about DEC KM and Why DEC Failed

4. Section 3: Resources


This article begins a new series called Profiles in Knowledge: Insights from KM Thought Leaders. The first four articles cover knowledge management (KM) thought leadership from companies where I worked: Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq Computer Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.


I joined DEC in 1983. VAX Notes Conferences were already in use for threaded discussions in both communities of practice and communities of interest. Details on VAX Notes are provided in Sections 1 and 2 below.

Section 1: KM Thought Leaders who are DEC Alumni

1. Debra Amidon

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  1. The Digital Management Legacy: A Culture of Knowledge, Innovation and Collaborative Advantage
  2. Roundtable on critical issues: Management of Knowledge Assets into the 21st Century
  1. Profile
  2. DECconnection featured member
  3. Obituary
  1. Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening
  2. Handbook of Knowledge Management Vol. 1 — Chapter 28: The 7 Cs of Knowledge Leadership — with Doug Macnamara
  3. Handbook of Knowledge Management Vol. 2 — Chapter 47: An Atlas for Knowledge Innovation: Migration from Business Planning — with Darius Mahdjoubi
  4. Next Generation Knowledge Management — Chapter 5: Architecting Success in the Knowledge Economy; Chapter 6: Characteristics of Laggards and Leaders
  1. Conversations with Debra M. Amidon: Architecting Success
  2. AOK: Preparing for Conversations with Bryan Davis and Debra Amidon
  3. Summary: Conversations with Bryan Davis and Debra Amidon
  4. Archive: Conversations with Bryan Davis and Debra Amidon (PDF)

2. Patti Anklam

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  1. Web Site
  2. Blog
  3. Old blog archives
  4. The AppGap blog archives
  5. The Camelot of Collaboration — the case of VAX Notes (and a PDF version)
  1. Next Generation Knowledge Management, Volume 2 — Chapter 4 KM mavens: The way ideas rise, emerge and mingle
  1. 2011 W8: Organizational Network Analysis & Tools
  2. 2010 W13: Organizational Network Analysis & Tools
  3. 2010 B101: Building Knowledge Networks
  4. 2008 C203: From Networking to Net Work
  5. 2008 Net Work: Creating & Sustaining Networks
  6. 2007 Net Work: Creating & Sustaining Networks
  7. 2006 W19: Organizational Network Analysis (ONA)
  8. 2006 B101: Tools for Social & Organizational Network Analysis (ONA)
  9. 2006 B106: Piloting Collaboration Software
  1. Archive: Conversations with Patti Anklam (PDF)
  2. SIKM Leaders Community Posts

3. Jean-Claude Monney

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  1. Lucidea Webinar: Selling KM: Reuse Proven Practices — Part 1
  1. 3 tips to increase company value creation and productivity
  1. KM Strategy, Execution, and Culture: Sharing Microsoft Services’ KM Initiative (2015)
  2. Fostering a Knowledge Culture at Microsoft Services
  3. Microsoft’s Knowledge Collaboration Culture Drives Productivity and Innovation
  4. Implementing KM at Microsoft: A Real-world Reflection: Webinar Q&A Summary
  1. 2016 KEYNOTE PANEL: Hacking KM
  2. 2015 C102: All of Us Are Smarter Than Some of Us
  3. 2014 A201: KM Enterprise Adoption: How to Make It Stick!
  4. 2014 A302: Delivering Global Business Value
  5. 2013 A104: Strategy, Execution, & KM Culture

4. David Skyrme

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  1. Blog
  2. Presentations
  1. Capitalizing on knowledge: From e-business to k-business
  2. Creating the Knowledge-Based Business: Key Lessons from an International Study of Best Practice
  3. Measuring the Value of Knowledge: Metrics for the Knowledge-Based Business
  4. Handbook of Knowledge Management Vol. 2 — Chapter 63: Commercialization: The Next Phase of Knowledge Management
  5. Knowledge Management: Classic and Contemporary Works — Chapter 3: Developing a Knowledge Strategy: From Management to Leadership
  6. Next Generation Knowledge Management — Chapter 9: Struggling with New Management Strategies
  7. Knowledge Horizons, The Present and the Promise of Knowledge Management — Chapter 15: The New Metrics
  1. Conversations with David Skyrme

5. Wendi Pohs

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  1. Blog
  2. Twitter
  1. Upgrading to Lotus Notes and Domino 7
  2. Enterprise Taxonomies: A Business Professional’s Guide to Taxonomies for Content Retrieval
  1. 2008 W16: Measuring Taxonomy Success
  2. 2006 Integrating Taxonomy & Search: Practices & Trends
  3. 2005 Workshop 4: Taxonomy Development & Usage

6. Other KM Contributors

Section 2: Articles about DEC KM and Why DEC Failed

1. Digital Increases Profits Through Knowledge Sharing

by Britton Manasco and Kimberly Merline in Knowledge Inc., The Executive Report on Knowledge, Technology & Performance, May, 1998, Vol. 3, №5

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  • Everyone contributes their experiences, contacts, lessons learned, documents, and other nuggets of knowledge whenever they can;
  • Everyone regularly thinks about how a piece of knowledge or a deliverable can be reused, who could use it, how to make it more useful, and where it should be located for easy access;
  • Knowledge capture is embedded in everyone’s job, and is not a separate process;
  • No one thinks of starting an engagement without looking for prior examples, proposals, lessons, etc.;
  • All engagements are entered into the knowledge library at key milestones;
  • New pieces of knowledge content are regularly suggested and added to the knowledge library;
  • Everyone knows how to find the information they need, and it is readily available to them;
  • The knowledge library is easily accessed and updated;
  • The knowledge library is linked to other functions, systems, databases, etc. to make it easy to get information from anywhere;
  • There are knowledge managers in each organization who constantly add to and improve the knowledge library and help others to use it more effectively;
  • Measurable benefits result from the use of the knowledge library, and all goals are achieved;
  • Reviewing all content for quality and sanitizing all content for confidentiality;
  • Creating second-order value from base content, e.g., qualification checklists;
  • Managing implementation of KM processes and functionality;
  • Aligning resources with needed tasks for KM implementation;
  • Communicating within the organization and to the Corporate KM Program;
  • Recognizing contributions, use development, and innovation within the organization;
  • Ensuring that each function within the organization is using KM appropriately;
  • Constantly thinking about what content is reusable and adding it to the Knowledge Library;
  • Reviewing raw data and distilling trends, findings, examples, and best practices;
  • Providing a content help desk for the organization to assist users in finding the information they need;
  • Soliciting contributions to the Knowledge Library on a regular basis;
  • Helping members of the organization use the Knowledge Library and DPM/T;
  • Promoting what is available in the Knowledge Library contributions and use;
  • Helping managers with Knowledge Management measurements;
  • Managing the internal and external web pages for the organization;
  • Maintaining a current list of contacts for the organization;
  • Continuously improving content, user interfaces, functionality, and contribution process.

2. Building Blocks for Knowledge Management at Digital Equipment Corporation: The WebLibrary

by Mary Lee Kennedy in Information Outlook, Vol. 1, No. 6, June 1997, pages 39–42

3. Requiem for a pioneer: Digital Equipment Corporation failed to learn from its own rise, and this led to its downfall

From Next Generation Knowledge Management, Volume 3 edited by Jerry Ash, section written by Stan Garfield, with contributions from Debra Amidon, et al. — Chapter 1, pages 13–33

  1. Had Digital openly licensed its leading-edge products such as the MicroVAX chip, the VAX/VMS operating system, AltaVista, and VAXnotes, rather than clinging to the hopes of proprietary profits, it might have not only survived, but led the industry. Digital knew how to develop outstanding products, but it didn’t learn how to adapt to changing market conditions.
  2. Had Digital listened to Ries and Trout (who offered specific advice in some of their books), the outside consultants they engaged, or some of its own people, it might have survived. But all such advice was ignored.

4. Lessons from Ken Olsen and Digital Equipment Corp.

by Martha Mangelsdorf in MIT Sloan Management Review, February 17, 2011

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5. Are Innovative Firms Bound to Die?

an interview with Ed Schein by M. Rajshekhar in Businessworld, September 15, 2003

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6. The 7 Worst Tech Predictions of All Time

by Robert Strohmeyer in PCWorld, December 31, 2008

Section 3: Resources

1. Conversations

  1. Quora: Why did Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) fail?
  2. AOK Star Series Dialogue

2. Articles

  1. How AltaVista lost its mojo and Google found its groove by Sundeep Khanna
  2. DEC’s Final Demise by Michael S. Malone
  3. What happened to Digital Equipment Corporation? by David L. Farquhar
  4. Why did Digital Equipment Corporation Fail? by Ian Waring
  5. DEC: The mistakes that led to its downfall by David T. Goodwin and Roger G. Johnson
  6. The Definitive Guide to DEC & Digital Equipment Corporation by Brenda Barron
  7. Failures of Large Computer Companies — Chapter 2: Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) by Bruce Sherwin
  8. The Birth and Passing of Minicomputers: From A Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) Perspective by Gordon Bell (presentation)
  9. Decline of Digital Equipment offers lessons for Microsoft by Gregg Keizer, interview with Peter DeLisi
  10. Rise and Fall of the Digital Equipment Corporation by Jochen Fromm
  11. In Memory of Digital Equipment Corporation by Will Herman
  12. The Demise of Digital Equipment Corporation: What Made the Difference at DEC? by Jack Falvey
  13. What the DEC?!? Records of Minicomputer Giant Digital Equipment Corporation Open for Research at CHM by Sara Lott
  14. The inspiration for Clayton M. Christensen’s seminal theory on disruptive technology came from watching the Digital Equipment Corporation’s fall in 1988 by Lawrence M. Fisher
  15. Ken Olsen, Who Built DEC Into a Power, Dies at 84 by Glenn Rifkin
  16. Seven Secrets for KM Success by W. Ladd Bodem

3. Webinar

4. Books

  1. DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporationby Edgar H Schein with, Paul J Kampas, Peter S Delisi,‎ and Michael M Sonduck
  2. Digital Equipment Corporation by Alan R Earls
  3. Digital at Work: Snapshots of the First 35 Years by Jamie Parker Pearson
  4. The Ultimate Entrepreneur: The Story of Ken Olsen and Digital Equipment Corporationby Glenn Rifkin and George Harr
  5. Proven Practices for Promoting a Knowledge Management Program by Stan Garfield — Chapter Fifteen: Reuse Proven Practices — Microsoft Services (Jean-Claude Monney); Digital Equipment Corporation (Stan Garfield)

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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