Mary Abraham asks the critical question: “if we can’t explain succinctly what it is we do, how can we expect others in our organizations to know what we do?” Her query was triggered by an experience of being in a group of people all of whom professed to be knowledge managers but all of whom had a different elevator speech.
(There is another question, for those of us who use lifts rather than elevators. Why do we still refer to an ‘elevator’ speech, when that word is not in common use in our dialect?)
We have been doing quite a bit of work on our self-definition, including an elevator script. I think one source of the variety that Mary refers to is that cultural differences, even between organisations as similar as law firms, produce different KM needs. In one firm there might be a strong emphasis on KM being driven by common institutional needs and goals, so that the KM focus is virtually the same in different practice areas. In another, the culture may militate against centralisation so that facilitation of personal knowledge management is more common.
Whatever the individual context, Mary is right. Without a “value proposition”, it is difficult to justify why one needs resources to do what one does.