Express, or all floors?

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.

4 thoughts on “Express, or all floors?”

  1. Mark:

    Finding the “value proposition” becomes even more critical when we confront the inherent difficulty of proving the return on investment (ROI) of KM. For years I’ve simply told colleagues that my job is to help them do their job better. Although that may be factually correct, it encompasses such a wide range of activities that it can be very hard for someone outside my area to understand exactly what I do for a living. Further, the specifics of the tasks I undertake vary depending on which colleague I’m trying to help and what resources I have at hand. While this broad scope may help keep my job varied and interesting, it only complicates my efforts to refine my elevator (or lift) speech and prove ROI.

    Mary

  2. I simply use this ; “Knowledge maangement is about what to DO when you don’t Know”. When you dont know
    1.You ask collegues/ experts other people I help build expert location systems.
    2.You look for Information – I help in creation, storage, retreival.
    3.You relay on similar experiences – I help creating a context.
    In this process of DOing I help create a more Agile organization to respond to Markets and increase serendipity.

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