Knowledge technologies in context
Knowledge technologies in context

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Knowledge technologies in context

4.2 Technologies and meta-knowledge continued

4.2.1 Mapping who knows what continued

Box 4.2 Knowledge sharing at Hewlett-Packard

One knowledge management initiative involves HP educators. Bruce Karney is a member of the infrastructure team for the Corporate Education organisation, 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:

  • Trainer's Trading Post, a discussion database on training topics

  • Training Library, a collection of training documents (e.g. course binders)

  • Training Review, a Consumer Reports collection of evaluations of training resources.

Training Review never took off; educators were reluctant to opine on-line 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 2,000 free airline miles for the first 50 readers and another 500 miles for anyone who posted a submission. Later promotions involved airmiles 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.’

(Davenport, 1998, p. 192)

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