Copyright 2009 by Andrew Gent
The following presentation discusses a combination
of theory and practice. The theories and scenarios
presented are based on work done at Hewlett-
Packard between the years 2002-2008.
However, the ideas and opinions presented here are
solely those of the author and in no way represent
the views of, or an endorsement by, HP.
− Business problem
− Original solution
− Real-world outcome
• Adaptive Knowledge Architecture:
− Rethinking the solution
− Requirements & responsibilities for adaptive
− Final outcome
• Provide KM support to a global
organization of SI consultants
− 12,000 employees
− 800-1,000 projects a year
• Employees managed by region
• Strategic direction set by HQ
“practices” (manufacturing, financial,
• “3-Tier Architecture” simplified to
address operational & strategic needs.
Intranet Managed Content
HP Services SI …
Communities Open, Globally
of Practice Shared Content
Communities of Practice
• This presentation focuses on the middle layer.
Security CIM .
• The CoPs combined both actual communities of
people and the technology to support them.
• Specifically, SharePoint sites for capturing/sharing
examples, reports, papers, best practices, etc.
• The intent was for subject matter
experts to lead the communities,
delegate & manage the associated
• Both global and local search
(augmented by metadata)
made content accessible and
reusable at multiple levels.
• Mgt liked the strategy – so much they
claimed responsibility (and
ownership) over them:
− Mgt selected CoP leaders as a business role
− They “managed” the content:
• Focus on driving business strategies
• Insisted on “qualifying” content
• Removed “non-strategic” content
• Locked down content to specific audiences
− Mapped CoPs to operational practices 1-for-1
• However… the content comes from
the field (i.e. the regions).
• Regions wanted to manage their own
• CoPs as managed portals discouraged
• CoPs became islands of (unused) content.
• Regions created their own repositories,
disconnected from larger framework.
• “Balkanization” of knowledge.
Rethinking the Architecture
• Original KM architecture defined according to
• Global not local
• Single infrastructure for reduced cost, simplification
• Communities of Practice as collection point of refined
• The architecture is under attack, constantly
fighting to keep up with competing requests:
− local vs. global
− closed vs. open
• Inherent problems for architecture:
− Conflicting requirements with no principles to resolve
− “Missing” requirements – no matter how complete the list, new
requirements or new priorities keep coming up.
− Unclear any architecture can meet all of the requirements.
Rethinking Architecture (contd.)
− Management insists on controlling how
information is seen (i.e. the view)
− Different views for different groups
− Control of the content (ownership) is critical
− Separate storage/ownership from presentation
Adaptive Knowledge Architecture:
• Architecture is a loose, dynamic collection
of rich content
• Don’t care where people store documents
(as long as they meet minimum criteria)
• Can add and remove content sources from
the “pool” dynamically or systemically.
• Focus of KM is on “enabling”:
− Maintaining minimum criteria standards
− Providing compliant infrastructure
− Design and construction of useful functions using the total
pool of content (think Project Finder, community
directory, and more…)
KM “Laws of inclusion”
• Content is reachable (& crawlable)
• Content is owned (& managed)
• Content is semantically rich (i.e.
• There is a common semantic
What Adaptive Architecture
Looks like Portal
• Must have clear, complete, common
• Management of content delegated to
content “owners” (practice, region, etc.)
• Focus of global KM shifts from managing
to using content to enable business
• Architecture encourages/adapts to
• No single point for contributions
(submitted where the content is
• There will be overlap and possible
competition (region vs. practice, etc.)
− Given freedom of control, groups may rebel and try to
− Answer: Use management goals and measurability as
“stick” (to enforce minimum criteria) to the self-
− Groups may complain about having to take
responsibility for their own content, will demand more
hands-on from global KM.
− Answer: Provide compliant infrastructure, guidelines,
and consulting to enable local KM teams.
• Architecture proposed twice:
− 1st time the global practices rejected the architecture,
refusing to accept alternate views.
− 2nd time accepted, but then rescinded (by practices)
− CoPs left in hands of the practices
− Project Document Library created to capture reusable
documents, organized (and managed) by region.
• Beware of success
But you cannot stop it
• Stick to your principles
They define what you do
• You cannot fix dysfunctional
behavior with KM
But avoiding reproducing it
• You cannot fix dysfunctional
behavior with web 2.0
• Beware of:
− Security on wikis
− Permissions on blogging
− Scoped or segregated search