Originally published on January 2, 2018

Third in the Profiles in Knowledge series

I joined HP in July, 2001. In September, 2001, HP announced it would merge with Compaq, where I had previously worked, and this acquisition was completed in 2002. I worked at HP until 2008, leading the Worldwide KM Program for HP Consulting & Integration from 2004 to 2008.


Section 1: History

HP celebrated its origin in “The Garage and adopted the “Invent” tagline in 1999. In 2015, it launched at global rebranding effort themed “Keep reinventing.” When I worked at HP, I had to remind colleagues that they didn’t always need to invent something from scratch if it had already been invented, but to instead reuse existing knowledge. If I were there today, I would need to caution against reinventing the wheel. From Reinvention Prevention, Dan Keldsen’s 2007 interview with me: “HP’s tagline is Invent, but in the quest to invent, are cycles, resources, time, and money being wasted reinventing existing solutions? Stan’s longtime drive is to ensure that knowledge is shared, to explicitly enable application of existing inventions, and as needed, new inventions, in the services/consulting work that he and his global team are involved in.”

When I started at HP in 2001, it reminded me of DEC in the late 80s. Both had mythology about benevolent founders (Bill and Dave, Ken Olsen), strong engineering cultures, no layoffs (as of then), and innovative products (HP minicomputers, calculators, and printers; DEC minicomputers, networking, and operating systems). Employees loved working there, trusted their CEOs, and were open to sharing knowledge with each other. After the founders departed, things went downhill. Carly Fiorina was not well-liked, and her acquisition of Compaq was criticized by both the press and the employees. Mark Hurd had some initial success through cost cutting, but ever since his acquisition of EDS, HP has been in decline.

HP had been recognized for its KM initiatives, but during Hurd’s cost reduction regime, triggered by the EDS acquisition, the entire Consulting & Integration KM team was eliminated. KM programs have been started again since I left, but most of the people, process, and technology innovations were lost. This sad scenario has unfortunately been repeated at many leading KM programs, representing a lesson not learned.

Acquisitions and Divestitures

Compaq acquired Tandem in 1997 and DEC in 1998. Tandem Computers was founded in 1974 by James (Jimmy) Treybig. Treybig first saw the market need for fault tolerance in OLTP (online transaction processing) systems while running a marketing team for Hewlett Packard’s HP 3000 computer division, but HP was not interested in developing for this niche. I managed the first Tandem system installed in St. Louis, at St. Louis University Medical School, from 1979 to 1983.

HP spun off its measurement, chemical, and medical businesses into Agilent Technologies in 2000. HP acquired Apollo in 1989, computer systems from Texas Instruments in 1992, Convex in 1995, Compaq in 1992, EDS in 2008, Palm in 2010, and Autonomy in 2011. HPE acquired SGI in 2016.

Section 2: HP KM Key Contributors

1. Andrew Gent

Andrew joined DEC in 1982, transitioned into Compaq in 1998 and HP in 2002, and left HP in 2008. He led technology projects for the HP Consulting & Integration KM team, developing many innovative applications. Not only is Andrew an outstanding knowledge architect, his book of poems received the prestigious Miller Williams Poetry Prize.


Blog: Incredibly DullKnowledge Management Posts

1. A Process for Defining Processes / Understanding the Layers of KM

2. Is There Only One Wiki in the World? and The “Other” Wiki

3.The Threat of Social Software and The Threat of Social Software, Part 2

4. What is Knowledge Management?

5. The Four Paradoxes of KM

The four paradoxes of KM are the following:

6. Enterprise 2.0, Revisited

The two basic facts that need to be accepted are:

So, very pragmatically, the following actions are needed at specific points of intersection:

7. ROI: the Sad Case for KM

The success or “return” of a KM program is the cumulative benefits — both short and long-term on the company and its employees. This is a very hard concept for line-of-business managers to grasp. They understand it when they feel its absence — the recent rebirth of KM within American companies runs a parallel course to the enthusiasm for the business fads of downsizing, rightsizing, and outsourcing in the late 80s and 90s. Many companies followed the trend only to find that the intelligence of the corporation had left with its employees. The need for knowledge management became apparent.

Articles Quoting Andrew

1. Sowing the seeds of KM — Andrew Gent, as told to Jerry Ash

No matter how advanced and widely heralded a knowledge management (KM) program might be, it’s frustrating to the architects to find that a large portion of the internal audience doesn’t have a clue. The architects do everything they can to improve usability, add features, promote and provide KM training, but improvement is both slow and incremental.

A case in point is the very mature KM program at Hewlett-Packard’s HP Services Consulting & Integration (C&I) where the team reaches effectively beyond the business unit to the wider services organization and other divisions within the corporation. Yet KM programs there run into the same problems any initiative does within a large organization. KM is just one of many, sometimes overlapping, programs competing for employees’ attention.

“Getting our message across to the rank and file in the cacophony of messages from human resources, training, the project-management office– never mind memos from managers, senior managers and vice presidents — can be very difficult,” says Andrew Gent, lead knowledge architect for HP C&I, part of a four-member team under Stan Garfield (see Inside Knowledge, December 2005/January 2006). Gent had spent 25 years in large computer companies — Digital Equipment, Compaq and HP — starting in technical documentation and ending up doing information architecture within the domains of documentation, training, usability and corporate strategy.

It was along those lines that he was first introduced to the services area. Eventually he was asked to develop an overall collaboration strategy for the consulting organization and finally ended up on the KM team. While the team continues to promote and maintain the overall KM program, Gent and the team have also found ways to innovate without taking resources away from ongoing program management.

Over the past ten years, C&I has established a stable and mature KM program run by Stan Garfield’s group. However, KM programs (good or bad) run into the same problems any initiative does within a large corporation. “Sometimes you wish you could get one or two quick wins or do something innovative to help the troops,” says Gent.

“Traditionally this would involve a proposal for a new project, justifying the ROI to get funding — and possibly headcount — and then spending months or even years developing, testing, revising and finally releasing. This is neither quick nor — in the end — innovative since any risky parts are usually argued out of it during the proposal and testing phases.”

Thus, return on investment (ROI) and innovation are examples of the proverbial chicken and egg syndrome. You cannot prove the ROI without a demonstration of value in production. But the point of ROI is to justify getting something new into production. Guerrilla KM bypasses the twin problems of getting attention and getting going. It offers opportunities for small, quick wins while avoiding the entire ROI-justification cycle.


What makes guerrilla KM different from other forms of KM is the goal and the approach. There are three aspects:

“Design on these projects tends to be ‘inspired’,” Gent says. “We identify a problem; someone says ‘I have an idea’; and as long as it fits within the basic rule of ‘fast and cheap’ that person owns responsibility for the solution.” The guerrillas will occasionally test out ideas on a limited audience — just to verify that it is a real problem they’re solving. But in general, they avoid user feedback in the design stage as that would take up too much time and bog the design team down in too much detail, too early on.

“This is counter-intuitive to most user-centric design approaches,” Gent says, “but quite frankly, more often than not users will push the design beyond the bounds of the original, simple scope. When that happens, you have to stand your ground or else the entire effort will become a full-scale project with all of its incumbent strictures, requirements and controls in no time flat.”

Although the roll-out is low-key, it’s not intended to be low-impact. The solution is offered to users, often by word of mouth, with no big announcements, no training and offered ‘as is’ with support only as time allows. “Adoption is limited at first,” Gent says. “On the other hand, a benefit is that we rarely get the resistance you sometimes find in large program roll-outs. Instead, we tend to get constructive criticism, suggestions and even an occasional offer of assistance.”

Another twist on rollout, Gent advocates that the solution be made as broadly accessible as possible, not just within his own business unit. With open access to the solution, you get a larger ‘base’ audience. Adoption occurs a little faster and sometimes other organizations pick up on the solution faster than the group it was originally intended for.

It also leads to simpler development. Since Gent is not concerned with restricting access, he can avoid complex security concerns that could significantly impact development costs. In summary:

“That last item is key. Because of the approach, with none of the user input of normal development, there is a fairly high risk of missing the mark and you can expect at least some of the projects to fail. That is not a bad thing. It is just part of the process and part of the learnings. Better to fail after two weeks of development than six months to a year. As a consequence, when I announce a new project of this kind, often the first question I ask is not ‘What’s missing?’ or ‘Where can we make improvements?’, but ‘Is this useful?’ If yes, we have succeeded. If no, we try again — or move on to the next project,” says Gent.

The four keys

Gent hasn’t developed the ‘principles of guerrilla KM’ yet, but believes that the following represent key attributes:

Gent is a strong believer in what he calls ‘loose integration’. He tries to build each project so it has no absolute dependency on specific software. He favors use of public interfaces, preferably web services. Several years ago, he became a strong advocate of RSS as a readable interface for users and, more importantly, as an integration point for other applications. “This is the sort of loose integration I’m talking about,” Gent says. “Almost everything I build has RSS in it somewhere.”

One example of simple guerrilla-KM design was the development of a MySpace-like program called me@hp, which takes advantage of the existing knowledge of internal users (name, address, phone and so on). What me@hp adds is a very simple structure and several additional content areas: a photo, a biography (clear or formatted text), a list of ‘friends’, and a list of areas of interest. This last is what attracts many people, because unlike the biography, which is free text, the ‘areas of interest’ feature is a ‘folksonomy’ that can be browsed. (A folksonomy, of course, is a user-generated taxonomy that can be used to categorize and retrieve web content such as web pages, photographs and web links).

The tool is very simple, was built quickly — and is very handy. “Again, adoption is slow, but since there is almost no maintenance cost, it is actually a good platform for further experiments in social computing. Most recently we added ‘forum membership’ underneath ‘areas of interest’. This is automated and pulled dynamically from the forums server via RSS [really simple syndication] feed,” says Gent.

Willing to fail

To engage in guerrilla KM, you must also be prepared to fail. Projects do not always succeed and it is hard to predict success in advance. Here’s a case in point: in me@hp, a member’s profile shows a list of the forums she or he is subscribed to. On Gent’s task list was a plan to do the reverse — create a list of forums where a person could easily find everyone who was subscribed. The membership directory was created using Ajax and the forum RSS feeds, where you could extend and collapse a list of the forums and their members; each member’s name was linked to their me@hp profile.

“It was greeted with a resounding ‘meh’,” Gent said. He blames the disinterest on the fact there was no problem being solved. A membership directory had been requested, but it was (and still is) unclear how it would be used. Overall, the membership directory can be considered a failure. “It was perhaps our most ‘expensive’ failure since it took almost a week and a half to complete,” Gent jests. But in consequence, Gent built several smaller components that are already in use in other places.

Sowing seeds

One of the key axioms of KM must surely be this: to be fully accepted, knowledge management has to be an integral part of the work, not another layer of responsibility. It has to make the work easier, not harder. It has to help people be more efficient and effective, not further burdened by more work than they can handle. And it has to show clear benefit for the organization’s critical success factors. ‘Nice-to-haves’ rarely survive; ‘must-haves’ are critical to survival.

Andrew Gent’s low-key guerrilla tactics aren’t acts of aggression, but shades of Johnny Appleseed, a piece of American folklore based on the real life of John Chapman, born in 1774 near Leominster, Massachusetts. He turned up in the then Northwest Territory from which the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois were formed following the Revolution. In the early 1800s, Chapman was among the first to explore the new territory. In anticipation of pioneer settlement, he entered the wilderness with a bag of apple seeds, chopped out the brush by hand and planted the seeds. He did all the work himself, living alone for weeks at a time with only the local Indians and wild animals for companionship. When the first settlers arrived, John Chapman’s young apple trees were ready for sale. He spent the rest of his life producing and distributing this staple of early life. It became a culture.

Today, of course, there is nothing more American than apple pie. Andrew Gent may not become a folk hero, but he is well on his way to sowing the simplest seeds of KM in the most fertile places. Watch them grow.

2. A KM Star is Born — Andrew Gent, as told Jerry Ash

3. How to motivate knowledge sharing using gamification, goals, recognition, and rewards

4. KM’s not dead, but talking about its ROI should be


SIKM Leaders Community


1. Measuring the ROI of KM

2. [explicit lyrics]: Poems

2. Bruce Karney

Bruce worked at HP from 1995 to 2005, later moving to the solar power industry. He led people projects for the HP Consulting & Integration KM team, serving as a voice for users, and consistently helping to improve the KM environment.



1. Knowledge Definitions (archive)

2. Ten Rules for Asking Others to Share Knowledge (archive)

3. Ten Things I’ve Learned about Knowledge Management (archive)

Version 1

Version 2

I began my knowledge management career in 1994, and have managed to learn roughly one new useful thing about KM per year since then. I hope it’s true that “slow but steady wins the race.” Here are my top ten insights.

Can all this be boiled down into a sentence or two? Margaret Mead did it decades ago when she wrote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Articles Quoting Bruce

1. Community Leader Survey

2. Encouraging Tool Usage

3. Citizen Journalism

4. Knowing your Environment by Keith De La Rue

5. Preparing for Conversations with Bruce Karney: KM v. Global Warming by Jerry Ash

6. Knowledge Management: Do We Know That We Know? by Alden Mudge

Bruce Karney is fond of pointing out that the layers of commentary and interpretation that make up the Talmud are one of the best and earliest examples of knowledge management.

7. If Only HP Knew What HP Knows by Tom Davenport

“Trainer’s Trading Post” is a Lotus Notes-based forum to help HP’s thousands of internal trainers and educators share ideas, materials, and methods. This group obviously appreciates the value of knowledge transfer, but motivating them to participate still requires an “evangelist.”

Trainer’s Trading Post

One knowledge management initiative involves HP educators. Bruce Karney is a member of the infrastructure team for the Corporate Education organization, part of HP’s Personnel function. Karney estimates that there are more than 2,000 educators or trainers distributed around HP, most of whom work within small groups and find it difficult to share knowledge. About two years ago, in response to complaints by the education community that “we don’t know what’s going on,” Karney began work on approaches to knowledge sharing for HP educators. He hoped to make the group more of a community; until this effort, it had no shared history, process, or tool set.

Using Lotus Notes as the technology vehicle, Karney established three different “knowledge bases” for educators to use: T “Trainer’s Trading Post,” a discussion database on training topics; T “Training Library,” a collection of training documents (e.g., course binders); T “Training Review,” a “Consumer Reports” collection of evaluations of training resources. Training Review never took off; educators were reluctant to opine online about the worth of course materials or external providers, and there was no reward structure for participating. It was therefore merged with Trainer’s Trading Post. Training Library did receive many contributions, but as participants discovered that they could attach materials to submissions to Trainer’s Trading Post, that knowledge base became the dominant medium for educator use, and Karney expects that it will be the sole offering in the future. Karney adopted innovative tactics to get submissions to the knowledge bases. He gave out free Notes licenses to prospective users.

When a new knowledge base was established, he gave out 3,000 free airline miles for the first 50 readers and another 500 miles for anyone who posted a submission. Later promotions involved miles for contributions, for questions, and for responses to questions. By early 1996, more than two-thirds of the identified educator community had read at least one posting, and more than a third had submitted a posting or comment themselves. Still, Karney was frustrated. Despite his countless attempts with free miles and e-mail and voice mail exhortations, he still felt the need to continually scare up fresh contributions. “The participation numbers are still creeping up,” he notes, “but this would have failed without an evangelist. Even at this advanced stage, if I got run over by a beer truck, this database would be in trouble.”

SIKM Leaders Community

Book Quoting Bruce

3. Bernard Hennecker

Bernard joined HP in 1984. Since 2001, he worked as a SharePoint Information & Data Architect. For the HP Consulting & Integration KM team, Bernard worked on the Manufacturing & Distribution Industries community portal, managed the HP Forums, and championed the use of SharePoint’s advanced functionality in support of knowledge management.

He provided leadership and consulting to several HP Services business units to design and implement their knowledge management program. This is performed by embedding the program into the operations of the groups and is deployed in conjunction with document management, workgroup collaboration, information sharing and publication, business process automation.

HP Profile


This blog contains a set of articles where I share my observations, the tools and techniques we deploy to improve communication and collaboration within our group. It should not be considered or perceived as a set of standard rules for the company I’m working for, but rather as a set of experiences that work within our group and that may be valuable for other groups or companies.

The first articles provide an introduction and cover:

The following ones are more technical and cover:

Deploying SharePoint portals to support communities


With this post, I’d like to introduce a set of articles where I will share my observations, the tools and techniques we deployed to improve communication and collaboration within our group. It should not be considered or perceived as a set of standard rules for the company I’m working for, but rather as a set of experiences that worked within our group and that may be valuable for other groups or companies.

By documenting those experiences, I not only hope that other people will benefit from the lessons learned but I also hope to get feedback or reactions on the information provided. That would allow to confirm the content by capturing similar observations from other groups or, on the contrary, introduce other approaches or techniques that may be better suited. Hopefully, as a consumer of the information, you would benefit from the experience of several people instead of just one individual.


In the many years I spent in the role of knowledge management lead in an international company, I learned to live with, support and improve the many different ways people communicate and collaborate. In a big company, this is a given, because people are:

In addition, the group they are part of and that need to collaborate with other groups may:


Since those many years, my role has been and still is to design and deploy a collaborative environment that help groups reaching their business objectives by giving them the tools to:

Such a role implies a continuous dialog with business leads, subject matter experts and knowledge workers. That is only possible by attending regular group meetings, working on real projects and prototyping solutions addressing their issues and objectives.


The articles will cover SharePoint design and deployment aspects from a “business” point-of-view and not an IT point-of-view. This means that I will explain the features and technologies we deploy to fulfill our users’ needs but not the ones that may be of interest for an IT audience. Topics like site collections choices, aggregated views, columns and content types, discussion boards, etc… will be addressed while IT topics like installation, database design or server farm configuration will not be covered.

In the next article, I will introduce the scope of our work and the overall approach used. See also SharePoint: the backbone of your information architecture by Rob Koplowitz and Leslie Owens in KMWorld.

Sites Developed by Bernard

4. Marcus Funke

Marcus worked at HP from 1982 to 2009. He led process projects for the HP Consulting & Integration KM team, working closely with the Program Management Office to establish knowledge capture and reuse processes and policies. Marcus managed the KM plan of record, created an innovative valuation model, and led the planning and hosting of a worldwide KM symposium.


1. Xing

2. HP


HP Services (HPS) Engagement Knowledge Capture and Reuse Policy


The objective of this policy is to ensure appropriate capture and reuse of knowledge in the selling and delivery of customer engagements. This policy supports operational efficiency in the following ways (see note):


This policy applies to:

Specifically, this policy does not apply where product knowledge is to be captured or reused outside of the scope of engagements as defined above (see note below).


Please refer to the HPGM for Project Management KCR Guide for details on how to apply this policy. Please also refer to the KCR Guide for other selected HPGM methods, where available, for specific KCR considerations for those methods.


HPS Worldwide Engagement Knowledge Management (HPS Consortium) is responsible for:

HPS Worldwide Engagement Program Management Office is responsible for:

HPS Region and Country/Sub-region Knowledge Management Leads are responsible for:

HPS Knowledge Advisors are responsible for:

Engagement Managers (e.g., Project Managers, Opportunity Managers, et al.) are responsible for:

Engagement Practitioners (e.g., Solution Architects, Consultants, et al.) are responsible for:

Region and Country/Sub-region Engagement Program Management Offices along with their management teams are responsible for:

Line Managers are responsible for:



It is recommended that this policy be introduced initially into CI, then OS, then TS, to meet immediate business challenges in CI and evolving KM maturity across the HPS business.


All customer facing (and directly supporting) HPS practitioners should attend a training event (webinar for processes / CBT for tools) that places Knowledge Capture and Reuse in the context of the customer engagement process. This could require tailoring for GBU or other specialties.


All new hires affected by this policy should be introduced to it as part of any local induction program. Please contact the regional KM Lead for details of what is available in your region.




This policy references the following policies, procedures, guides and web-sites:

5. Birgit Gobi

Birgit joined HP in 2000, transitioning to HPE in 2015 and Pointnext in 2017. She was the KM Lead for EMEA, creating innovative events to promote knowledge management, serving as a voice for European users, and consistently helping to improve the KM program.

Articles and Posts



6. Stephanie Barnes

Stephanie worked at HP from 1997 to 2003, leaving to start her own consultancy. She led the KM program for the HP Outsourcing business.




1. That Channel Stephanie Barnes Interview, part 1 of 3

2. That Channel Stephanie Barnes Interview, part 2 of 3

3. That Channel Stephanie Barnes Interview, part 3 of 3

SIKM Leaders Community

7. Nancy Settle-Murphy

Nancy worked at DEC from 1980 to 1994 and at HP from 2004 to 2011. She has managed her own consultancy since 1994, specializing in meetings, facilitation, virtual teams, learning, communications, and cultural literacy.


Webinar Recording

SIKM Leaders Community Presentations

Section 3. Other HP KM Thought Leaders

1. Marko Kiiski

2. Deborah Plumley

3. Peggy Parskey

4. Michael Wyrsch

5. Ron Plourde

6. Marilyn MartinyKnowledge management at HP consulting

7. Chuck Sieloff“If only HP knew what HP knows”: the roots of knowledge management at Hewlett‐Packard

8. Gita HaghiMeasuring Knowledge Management at HP Services

9. Fred BalsCreating a Podcast

Section 4: HP Knowledge Management Program

1. December 2004/January 2005 edition of Inside Knowledge: Jerry Ash reports on Hewlett-Packard’s capture and re-use project

The subject of knowledge capture and re-use has always created tension in the knowledge-management (KM) community because it carries visions of IT-driven knowledge repositories, choking with documents that are difficult to find and lacking in relevance to the searcher. Hewlett-Packard, however, may have cracked it. Jerry Ash reports.

Capture and re-use

Hewlett-Packard’s Engagement KM initiative balances people, process and technology. By Jerry Ash.

The subject of knowledge capture and re-use has always created tension in the knowledge-management (KM) community because it carries visions of IT-driven knowledge repositories, choking with documents that are difficult to find and lacking in relevance to the searcher. Thus, knowledge capture and re-use has often been given short shrift in KM initiatives.

Part of the inattention to capture and re-use may also be political. The KM community has been on constant defense against the software providers that hijacked KM in the early days with the promotion of information-management products wearing the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ — the KM label — when they provided little more than information-retrieval technology under a new name.

That scenario has caused many KM architects to give cautious or little attention to one of the most powerful prospects in the knowledge arsenal — the re-use of existing knowledge.

The situation has been compounded by KM’s gravitation towards the ‘social side’ of knowledge management, with an emphasis on the use of ‘knowledge on the hoof’ through various types of social networks. These are powerful tools in themselves, but not alternatives to the capture and re-use of existing, codified knowledge.

Organizations grappling with both tacit and explicit knowledge do face real challenges in keeping the balance between the KM domains of people, process and technology. Capture and re-use is, perhaps, the biggest of those challenges.

This report tells the unlikely story of a technology company’s initiative to establish a full scope, mission-driven program balancing people, processes and technology. It would increase the re-use of both explicit and tacit knowledge from consulting engagements to improve the win rate, drive down sales and delivery costs, and increase engagement quality. The project? Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) Engagement KM (EKM) initiative.

Stan Garfield leads the worldwide KM program for HP Services Consulting & Integration. His personal journey through the mergers and acquisitions of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Compaq and HP is a veritable history of the maturing of KM programs at three major organizations. “The challenge for a KM program in a technology company is to keep technology in balance with people and process,” he says. “That is the direction I have provided. We have made progress in the past ten years, but we are still facing some of the same challenges. Our goal is to embed KM in our business processes so that it is transparent, but we are not there yet.”

The legacy

The modern HP is the result of a series of mergers and acquisitions that first joined DEC with Compaq, and then Compaq with HP.

DEC was one of the early pioneers of KM with the development of a collaboration tool in the mid-1980s called VAXnotes. The tool appeared long before the term ‘knowledge management’ had become generally accepted. Indeed, the term ‘community of practice’ had not yet been coined either, but Patti Anklam, a former DEC employee, recalls that the master list of conferences at DEC in the mid-1980s included the phrases ‘communities of purpose’, ‘communities of practice’ and ‘communities of interest’.

Debra Amidon, also with DEC in the early years, recalls that in 1987 DEC and the Technology Transfer Society co-sponsored the first conference in the US focused on knowledge beyond the theories of artificial intelligence, called Managing the Knowledge Asset into the 21st Century.

In 1996, both DEC and HP began their own KM programs; and so, when HP merged with Compaq in 2002, it brought together two companies with strong knowledge-based histories.

It was through this heritage that HP ended up with several KM programs in various business units, including the one for HP Services Consulting & Integration, now headed by Stan Garfield. He joined DEC in 1983, launched the company’s first KM program in 1996, helped develop the corporate KM strategy for Compaq and was part of the Merger & Integration Clean Room, which planned the integration of Compaq and HP.

The situation

Both Compaq and HP had mature KM programs in place at the time of the merger and integrating them was challenging. But when Garfield took over the Consulting & Integration KM program in 2004, much was still to be done. After eight years of KM, the HP program had skewed toward technology implementation and content migration from one system to another. The people and process sides of KM had been under-emphasized and, as a result, the KM program was not viewed as supporting the business.

That would have to change. The Consulting & Integration business unit was where KM could do its most valuable work, with 10,000 consultants worldwide and ongoing responsibilities to:

Before the Engagement KM program, Garfield recalls, consultants had no systematic way to find out what had been done before. As a result, the same mistakes were made repeatedly. For example, an e-mail migration project for a client once underestimated the amount of effort needed for implementation. So, future projects should have learnt from this mistake in the writing of future bids. But in fact, two subsequent bids for similar projects made the same mistake and all three lost money as a result.

“Any time a new bid raised the question, ‘Where have we done this type of project before?’ a mad scramble would ensue, usually involving mass e-mails,” Garfield recalls. “If the question were, ‘How many of these projects have we done?’ we would often have to guess.”

Consultant culture

There is a pervasive cultural conflict with the idea of capture and re-use at HP where the company tagline on its logo is ‘Invent’. “We have to remind people not to re-invent,” Garfield says, “but to invent only when absolutely necessary.” Surveys show that HP consultants perceive many of their projects as ‘new’ and that they are therefore unable to re-use content from previous projects. “If this is true,” Garfield challenges, “then we should question why we are selling so many projects with unproven solutions. If it is not true, then our consultants are not searching the knowledge base first.”

There are stories aplenty about major consultancies that adopted KM as a ‘product’, but never succeeded in persuading their own consultants to participate in knowledge sharing. In a recent issue of Inside Knowledge (October 2005), Kent Greenes told the story of how he had been hired as a ‘rainmaker’ to sell and provide KM consulting for services supplier Science Applications International (SAIC) but only now, after five years, has the company allowed him to develop a formal corporate KM program for the company.

“In our case,” Garfield says, “we have not tried to sell KM products and services very much, but we do have trouble getting consultants to share what they know.” At HP, he adds, it’s a paradox. “Everyone acknowledges we should share and re-use knowledge,” he says. “However, actual progress has always been limited by the fact that the overriding priority for consultants and their managers is selling the next deal and keeping billable.”

Thus the frequent lament: ‘I know I should be using KM, but I just don’t have time.’ “The fact that they could save time by using KM escapes them and the managers in the organization don’t insist on it,” Garfield says, “so there is always an effort to get increased participation. We have talked for years about changing our culture to knowledge sharing, but I think it is very hard to change a culture,” Garfield says.

“For example, if a consultant’s manager asks every week whether he is going to be billable that week and doesn’t ask anything else, the consultant quickly figures out that all that matters is being billable. If consultants are never asked to demonstrate how they participate in a community or what content they submitted to a repository, they assume it’s not really that important.”

Re-launch strategy

A KM strategy based on capture and re-use could forecast a program that would focus primarily on document management — no change, really, from the current system.

But Garfield saw an opportunity to use capture and re-use in a much broader and deeper way. To be successful, he knew he needed an architecture that consultants would regard as a great tool to help them produce client proposals that would make them billable, not a time-consuming secondary activity, but the framework for the work at hand. This would help them produce successful bids and satisfied clients. That is the way Garfield would change the culture.

“Re-launching the KM program under the banner of EKM in 2004 allowed us to introduce a proper balance between people, process and technology and to focus on meeting business needs,” Garfield says. “By setting measurable goals for the program in participation, capture, re-use, quality and employee satisfaction, and reporting progress to the executive team on a monthly basis, we changed the perception of the program and gained the sponsorship of the senior executive.”

The re-launch involved a ten-point strategy:

The EKM architecture is built around the three domains of people, process and technology. The domains do not comprise an organizational structure, but rather, the components of the KM environment. To ensure that the program does not focus primarily on technology, each of the domains has a strong leader.

EKM people

The domain leaders work as a team. Projects regularly overlap among the domains, but one team member is assigned as the leader for each project based on the nature of the work. The project leader is expected to collaborate with the leaders of the other domains on a regular basis.

The Core Team is comprised of the domain leaders plus one regional KM lead and one practice KM lead. A KM Operations Team is formed from the Core Team plus two other regional KM leads and three country KM leads. Finally, a worldwide KM Leads Team is composed of about 100 people who have KM roles, primarily in HP Services. Four direct reports are full-time KM positions. KM regional leads are full-time staff whose jobs include substantial KM responsibilities.

Most country leads are volunteers with recognition of their KM responsibilities written into their full-time job descriptions.

Garfield plays an active role in recruiting strong leaders, trying to put them in place in the regions and practices by influencing their managers. The KM Core and KM Operations Teams are governed by Garfield. The KM Leads Team is open to anyone at HP who wishes to join. Currently the team includes country KM leads, consulting and integration practice KM leads and representatives from Managed Services, Technology Services, Pre-sales, the Professions program, Strategic Proposal Centers, HP’s Advanced Technology Group, HP’s Engagement Program Management Office and the Global Delivery India Center.

“For the core team I select strong leaders who can work collaboratively,” says Garfield. “For KM Operations I look for field and headquarters leaders who are the most active and creative. For KM leads I reach out to as many prospects as possible and invite them to join. I work hard to ensure the bi-weekly calls are lively and feature good guest speakers. I moderate the associated discussion forum to ensure there are postings every week. I publish a weekly newsletter with links to timely and practical information, and a monthly one-page newsletter to keep people informed on program progress.”

Most of the connections between teams are virtual but a second worldwide face-to-face meeting was held in March, 2005, with travel expenses being picked up by senior executive sponsors. Bruce Karney (The Knowledge, Inside Knowledge, October 2005) planned the meeting which included presentations, knowledge sharing, birds of a feather sessions, workshops, breakouts and dinner every night. “Attendees viewed it as a huge success, since many of them had never met face-to-face before,” says Garfield.

EKM process

Changing culture is a long and arduous task and companies cannot wait for nature to take its course in a rapidly changing marketplace. One of the greatest challenges to KM is to ‘get there’ before the culture does. Garfield has woven knowledge capture and re-use into the engagement process to make that happen.

The most successful of the processes is the HP Customer Engagement Road Map, which is not just a KM tool but the tool everyone must use during a client engagement from opportunity creation to delivery. It is the process, the way people work. It is the basis of the Engagement Knowledge Map found on the HP Knowledge Network homepage, a portal through which people work. It stores a collection of tools, processes and people, based on knowledge that HP and others have accumulated through experience and learning.

The Engagement Knowledge Map is a grid of steps and resources necessary to carry out a client engagement. Down the left side column are resources for documents, templates and source codes. It includes collaborative tacit and explicit resources — team spaces, HP market research, practice portals and communities, a project-profile repository and knowledge briefs (white papers).

Across the top of the grid are five categories: opportunity creation; opportunity evaluation; development and bid; negotiate and close; and deliver.

“People do follow the roadmap because it is integrated into the process,” says Garfield. It is up to someone during Solution Opportunity Approval & Reviews (SOAR) to ask, ‘What are you re-using in this bid?’ If the answer is ‘nothing’ then the question becomes ‘Why are you even bidding on this if you don’t even know if we’ve ever done this before?’

Collaborative team spaces provided by the KM program provide another work process enabler that integrates KM into the process.

All HP engagements require project teams which may or may not be easily assembled in one space. To solve the problem and seize an opportunity to embed KM further in the process, a tool has been developed for assisting teams in setting up online team spaces in a couple of minutes. That’s right, an online collaborative space in two minutes. Teams do not have to do it from scratch. The page is a template already populated with things the team will need. The team space is portal-like, but a collaborative place for team members to work. The team can tailor the page to its own needs. “There’s no problem getting people to use this tool,” Garfield says. “The team spaces are powerful and they’ve really caught on. We don’t have to ‘sell it’ because people love it.”

While compliance on the team collaboration side of the equation is hugely successful, only partial success has been attained so far on the capture and re-use sides.

At its best, the HP knowledge capture and re-use process flows through a collaboration environment to the re-use stage assured by the knowledge map and on to capturing re-usable content from each engagement. Unlike re-use, however — which is integrated into the SOAR process — capture is not so rigidly controlled.

“Knowledge capture is a company mandate,” says Garfield. “But the HP culture is such that mandates do not necessarily get done. Everyone agrees with knowledge capture and knows its value, but there are different levels of compliance. In the worst case, nothing gets done. Most cases, however, end up somewhere in the middle. The desired level of capture occurs in some cases.”

Capture of lessons learned, Garfield says, is still at the lower level. He is not discouraged that the HP Knowledge Capture and Re-use initiative has not yet reached its full potential: “We are at stage four in the APQC [American Productivity & Quality Center] road map for program development which puts us at the ‘expand and support’ level.”

EKM technology

The technology leader serves as liaison from the KM Core Team to the HP IT organization and coordinates all IT development and support for KM initiatives. He is responsible for the technology used in the knowledge network including: search, community portals, threaded discussion forums, collaborative team spaces, project profile repository, project documentary library, contribution wizard and usage reporting.

By having an IT specialist as part of the Engagement KM Core Team, better communication and understanding between the user group and the IT department is assured. The ‘KM techie’ understands how the user group works and is able to better communicate the type of support needed.

Here are the top three tech priorities for fiscal year 2006:

Clearly, KM is no longer being driven by the IT department at HP Services, but supported by IT in collaboration with the KM program’s IT leader. There is little chance now that KM at HP Services will again be skewed towards technology either, but there is a relationship in place that assures technology will provide the right support system for the KM program.

Further education

There is much more to the HP Services story than you’ve learned here. There are many more components to the KM Engagement initiative as well as the overall HP KM program.

To learn more, see the 61 slides Garfield used in his presentation to the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) in May, 2005 (Increasing Profits Through KM). These detailed slides include operational indicators, the HP customer engagement roadmap, the knowledge network components, the various roles of HP knowledge advisors not mentioned in this report and many screen shots showing how to create team spaces, project-profile repository, project profile submission form, knowledge briefs, community portals and distribution lists, a practice community portal, HP forums, publications and a virtual classroom for webinars and much more.

From the legacy of KM programs in three companies and a single manager who pulled it all together during 22 years in all three companies, HP Services has one of the most mature and effective programs on the planet.

Personal success story

Individual journey through multiple mergers assures KM continuity and growth.

Stan Garfield’s personal journey through the convergence of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Compaq and Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a story of individual passion and intellectual capital at work.

“I have always been interested in communication and in sharing information,” Garfield says. In elementary school he published a one-page newsletter. In high school he operated a radio station. In college he enrolled as a journalism student, but got hooked on computer programming and transferred to an engineering school.

His work as a technician involved writing applications for speech and hearing research, for cardiac catheterization and on to developing operating systems and compilers. But technology did not bury his love for the human side of business. “I wanted to become a manager,” Garfield says, “so I took a job managing the computer operations at St. Louis University Medical School, which had the first Tandem computer in St. Louis.”

When he moved to DEC in 1983 it was with a strong background in technology and management and a continuing love for personal communication and knowledge sharing. He was soon ahead of KM’s ‘time.’ As a manager at DEC he compiled information that was useful to his team members, which included key contact lists and pointers to reference material. The key contacts list became one of the most popular documents at DEC since it was essentially the yellow pages of the company.

A service called Reader’s Choice was launched at DEC and Garfield used it to manage subscriptions to the key contacts list and numerous newsletters he published. He had gone full circle from journalist to a techie and back to journalist again. He eventually had more than 30,000 subscribers to his various periodicals at DEC. He used DEC’s VAXnotes as a tool for collaboration, communication and Q&As. By 1995 the internet was starting to blossom and Digital developed its own intranet. Garfield became editor of the Digital Professional Services Intranet.

By the time DEC launched its KM program in 1996, the choice of a leader was obvious — Stan Garfield, of course. He added to his experience and natural instinct for KM by visiting the Center for Business Knowledge run by Ernst & Young in Cleveland, Ohio. “I slowly built the Digital KM program,” he recalls, “but it took a while to achieve critical mass, management attention and field support. I built a virtual team of early adopters, representatives from each of the organizations, and a few core team members.”

In 1998 Compaq bought DEC. Compaq did not have much of a KM program and so Garfield’s became the one used by the new systems integration organization. In 2000, he was asked to help create a corporate KM strategy for Compaq, but not much was accomplished before the Compaq/HP merger was announced. After managing projects in the merger ‘clean room’, Garfield took charge of KM for HP Services Consulting & Integration, first in the Americas, then worldwide.

So there you have the story behind the story — the power of combining personal and corporate KM to produce the best possible outcome in the midst of major organizational change.

2. The Role of Evolving Technologies: Accelerating Collaboration and Knowledge Transfer — HP KM Case Study by APQC

Section 5: Resources

1. Articles about HP KM

2. Presentations about HP KM

3. Videos about HP KM

1. Knowledge Management Spotlight: How Hewlett Packard Enterprise Reused Knowledge To Increase Profits — Grey Cook and Vijayanandam M V

2. HP Service Manager

3. HP Service Anywhere

4. Selling KM: Reuse Proven Practices — Part 5 — case study of the HP KM program

5. The HP KM Program: Tools and Technology

4. Articles about HP’s Decline

5. Books about HP

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

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