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

Charles G. Sieloff (Charles G. Sieloff is Knowledge Management Program Manager at Hewlett‐Packard Co., Palo Alto, California, USA. e‐mail:

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 1 March 1999



While the term “knowledge management” is relatively new, many of the concepts have deep historical roots. Hewlett‐Packard’s strong culture and traditional business practices established an environment that encouraged innovation and the sharing of knowledge throughout the company. However, the reliance on local and informal approaches eventually became a weakness when the company had to deal with rapid growth and increased competitive pressures. The growing gap between the potential and actual value of HP’s collective intellectual assests was reflected in a widely quoted management complaint from the 1980s, “If only HP knew what HP knows.” However, the need for more explicit and deliberate strategies for managing knowledge has only recently become clear, as the disruptive technology of the Internet and the World Wide Web triggered an explosion in the availability of information and knowledge, but did nothing to expand our limited attention capacity.



Sieloff, C.G. (1999), "“If only HP knew what HP knows”: the roots of knowledge management at Hewlett‐Packard", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 47-53.




Copyright © 1999, MCB UP Limited

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