The APQC Blog

Cisco's Gary Borella talks on its KM recognition program

Cisco System’s Gary Borella, manager for its Intellectual Capital (IC) Team, was the speaker for APQC’s June Knowledge Management (KM) Community Call. He spoke about how Cisco’s KM program has been successful with the help of its recognition program.  The one-hour presentation can be viewed here, along with the slides.

The presentation garnered a lot of feedback from our attendees, and we decided to follow up with Borella so he could talk further on Cisco's KM program.

APQC: Which business units or domains are the principle users of Cisco’s KM tools and approaches?

Borella: There are multiple knowledge programs throughout Cisco. Our programs primarily targets Cisco Advanced Services, which helps customers optimize their network investment, speed adoption, and migration to advanced technologies. We also partner closely with Cisco Technical Services on social knowledge creation and enterprise search.

APQC: After first implementing KM, how long did it take to come up with the recognition program in its current form? Do you see this as something a new KM program can do, or does an organization need to reach a certain level of maturity?

Borella: It took our program seven years to reach this stage, but in reality a basic recognition program can be implemented by a KM program irrespective of its size or maturity. Recognition is at the core of “going the extra mile,” and when employees are recognized they want to do something more, and that usually translates to investing time in KM and giving back.

APQC: How do you respond to people who believe monetary bonuses are not a good way to motivate knowledge-sharing behaviors, especially if people aren’t given time to participate? Do you feel your program would be less effective if it relied purely on recognition from leaders etc. without the cash awards and bonuses?

Borella: We believe that the cash rewards help us reach more people. The recognition is there along with the bonuses. Employees do get voicemails and emails from executives and recognition at all-hands meetings. The feedback from cross-functional leaders and engineers in the field has been positive. They like the balanced approach of cash bonuses along with recognition from leaders/peers.

APQC: What systems/tools does Cisco use for content management? Is the reporting tool homegrown?

Borella: Cisco uses a combination of technologies to support company-wide KM programs. Some of these products are commercial, such as Documentum for content management and Cisco Quad for social interactions; others are proprietary for developing targeted knowledge. The reporting tool that we use is homegrown.

APQC: You said that people log their hours when participating in Communities of Practice. What tool(s) do you use to capture this participation, and can your tool capture the level (or quality) of participation?

Borella: We use Oracle time tracking software to log realized and non-realized hours within a peer community.

APQC: Could you share exactly how the productivity savings metric is calculated? How do you translate reuse of intellectual capital into time saved?

Borella: For every nugget of knowledge that is reused, 30 minutes is the default in the “minutes” field. This is a dynamic field in the tool that can be changed by the engineer reusing that piece of knowledge. If there is an engineer who saved 120 minutes from reusing a piece of knowledge, he can put that number in the field. We simply multiply the minutes by the hourly rate of engineers at Cisco to get the total time saved and also productivity savings.

APQC: Do you collect any metrics on KM activities that are not automated/handled through a tool? What kind of feedback have you gotten from participating employees?

Borella: Self reporting on our IC Dashboard lets a user input activities that happen outside standard KM tools. Activities like patents filed or speaking at KM conferences are all examples of this. We give credit for these self-reported items.

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