Diego spent the next seven plus years working in Hewlett Packard Labs where he developed the Team Server. After three more years as CEO of a software company in Silicon Valley, Diego felt his apprenticeship in the business world was over. Moving with his family to Costa Rica, Diego co-developed with HP the sustainable agriculture Certification And Traceability System (CATS). Read on to learn more about Diego’s contributions to the realm of technology enhanced environments.

During his seven plus years at Hewlett Packard Labs, Diego worked on three projects, each of which related to technology enhanced environments. His primary project was the team server, a continuation of Diego’s computer support for self-managed teams research with Rosabeth Moss Kanter and J. Richard Hackman at Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. The focus of the Team Server was to aid organizations in building self-adapting mechanisms based on self-managing teams.  The Team Server would facilitate horizontal management through providing a coordination and communications infrastructure that supports self-management. Working as an HP Labs partner with HPs Product Generation Change Management Team, comprised of members Peter Gaarn, Stu Winby, and Dr. Sara Beckman, Diego helped HP determine the information architecture and technologies required for moving from hierarchical management to horizontal management in HP’s LaserJet division and other manufacturing operations. Focusing on the information requirements of horizontal non-hierarchical management structures, Diego facilitated cutting edge research that furthered the Team Server work at the Lab.

After three more years as CEO of a Silicon Valley design and embedded software company, Diego felt his apprenticeship in the business world was over (for more information on Diego's apprenticeship see Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin article). An early “retirement” saw Diego move with his family to Costa Rica for a year. While there, he conducted sustainability project research for HP, which ultimately led to the founding of sustainable agriculture Certification And Traceability System (CATS). CATS focus was on helping farmers and their communities become more productive by employing the use of IT, or technology enhanced environments, to support their defacto organic farming practices.

Between southern Mexico and Panama reside over one million indigenous farmers, most living without infrastructure (no telephones, roads, or electricity) and no means of buying fertilizers or other chemical inputs. As a result, these farms are defacto organic, however cannot be certified as such due to insufficient record keeping. Organic certification could mean the doubling of margins of the average indigenous farmer. By employing information technology, CATS, in one version of its segmentation strategy, would allow illiterate farmers to input information through the use of icons and pictures into a small handheld device that would synchronize with a server at the cooperative through use of a “BurroNet” (see Segmentation in Figure D and E). By employing these devices that used images and GPS so that farmers could document which areas were being cultivated, CATS was able to innovatively handle the lack of literacy among farmers. Through the CATS traceability system, consumers would be able to make informed decisions about their purchases by being able to trace products back to the original farmer or cooperative, thereby decreasing the anonymity of the production system and building a relationship between the producer and the consumer. The use of bar codes at the retail level, tied to a database that tracks the chain of ownership through the CATS system, would provide the infrastructure.

In an age when consumers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability and safety of the products they purchase, the demand for assurances is high. On the other hand, affording the cost of transitioning to certifiable production methods was/is very hard for small farmers to do, especially those with limited or non-existent electrical infrastructures, no phone access, and unpredictable road access. CATS provided a solution, using traceability as a method through which sustainability could be verified. Organically cultivated products would move up the supply chain and at each phase be verified by the distributor so that upon arriving at the grocery store, one could be assured of a label’s claim.  The long-term goal of the CATS system was to maintain sustainability standards across industries for those companies and consumers that find these reassurances important.