posted 6 Dec 2005 in Volume 9 Issue 4
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 defence 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.
Organisations 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 programme 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 programme 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 programmes at three major organisations. “The challenge for a KM programme 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 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
In 1996, both DEC and HP began their own KM programmes; 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 programmes 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 programme 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.
Both Compaq and HP had mature KM programmes in place at the time of the merger and integrating them was challenging. But when
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:
1. Achieve and sustain an acceptable level of profitability;
2. Improve the win rate so that revenue would steadily increase;
3. Improve project delivery so that customers were satisfied and ready to buy more services.
Before the Engagement KM programme,
“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,”
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,”
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 programme for the company.
“In our case,”
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 organisation don’t insist on it,”
“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.”
A KM strategy based on capture and re-use could forecast a programme that would focus primarily on document management – no change, really, from the current system.
“Re-launching the KM programme 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,”
The re-launch involved a ten-point strategy:
- Balance people, processes and technology with a project leader for each category;
- Put a strong leader in place; adjust the team to have only strong members and add team members and offshore resources for specific projects to increase the flow of deliverables;
- Establish a governance and collaboration process to engage all regions and practices, and to formally manage and communicate on all projects;
- Communicate regularly through newsletters, training, websites and local events;
- Persuade the senior executive to communicate regularly about the importance of the programme;
- Hold a worldwide face-to-face meeting of KM leaders to get everyone informed, energised and collaborating;
- Engage with other KM programmes, both within HP and externally, to share ideas and practice what is preached;
- Participate in the corporate Knowledge and Intranet Management (KIM) Strategic Leadership Team to help influence IT direction;
- Kill off low-priority technologies and turn over the important ones to the corporate KIM team to free our team for new initiatives;
- Focus on three simple goals and stick to the basics – participate in a community, collaborate on projects using team spaces and search for and submit project profiles.
The EKM architecture is built around the three domains of people, process and technology. The domains do not comprise an organisational structure, but rather, the components of the KM environment. To ensure that the programme does not focus primarily on technology, each of the domains has a strong leader.
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.
“For the core team I select strong leaders who can work collaboratively,” says
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
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.
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
Collaborative team spaces provided by the KM programme 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,”
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
Capture of lessons learned,
The technology leader serves as liaison from the KM Core Team to the HP IT organisation 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:
- Stabilise the infrastructure;
- Improve ease of use of tools;
- Implement one new innovation each quarter.
Clearly, KM is no longer being driven by the IT department at HP Services, but supported by IT in collaboration with the KM programme’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 programme.
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 programme.
To learn more, see the 61 slides
From the legacy of KM programmes 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 programmes on the planet.
Jerry Ash is a special correspondent for Inside Knowledge and founder of AOK http://www.kwork.org. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Managing the Knowledge Asset into the 21st Century, http://www. entovation.com/gkp/managing.htm;
The Camelot of collaboration, (IK/Knowledge Management, Volume 5, Issue 2). Patti Anklam, a former Digital employee now at Hutchinson Associates, Harvard, MA,
Debra Amidon, formerly at Digital, CEO, Entovation International http://www.entovaton.com;
Slide presentation, Stan Garfield, APQC, May, 2005: http://tinyurl.com/96e35
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,”
His work as a technician involved writing applications for speech and hearing research, for cardiac catheterisation 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,”
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
By the time DEC launched its KM programme 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
In 1998 Compaq bought DEC. Compaq did not have much of a KM programme and so
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 organisational change.