Archive for the 'About' Category

So what do you do?

Keith February 13th, 2007

How easy is it to describe your job?  Once upon a time, most jobs didn’t take a lot of explaining.  But in today’s increasingly complex world, it seems to be becoming more difficult. 

For the average knowledge worker, it’s hard enough.  But if you go by the title of “knowledge manager”, as I still choose to do, it can be a bit tricky.  For one thing, everyone has their own definition of KM!  I am also the first to admit that my role really only covers one slice of the broad field.  Of course, many people in this sort of role may choose a different title, but the problem of explaining your work is still the same.

One helpful approach is to have an “elevator pitch”.  (We still tend to call it that in Australia, even though we have “lifts” rather than “elevators”.  “Lift pitch” just doesn’t quite sound right.)  I rather like Jerry Ash’s KM pitch.  My slightly paraphrased version:

“Knowledge Management helps people turn what they know into ideas that make a difference in personal growth, accomplishment and worth; and helps organisations turn what people know into value, competitive advantage and success.”

However, there are times when you may need something even more succinct… 

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Telling stories

Keith January 17th, 2007

The original title at the top of this blog was: “It’d take a lot of it to make a man laugh.”  Why?  Of course, there is a story behind it… 

I heard it from my father many years ago, when I was a child, living on a sheep station near the town of Birregurra in western Victoria.  He relayed this story from his boss – Charlie, the property owner - who was a participant.

It was 15 August 1945.  Everyone in the town was celebrating V-J day – victory over Japan, and the end of World War II.  People were driving up and down the main street, making lots of noise.  Most likely a fair amount of alcohol was also being consumed! A man named Mark Ward, in the transport business, was riding on the bonnet of one of his own trucks.  The driver stopped suddenly, catapulting his passenger forward.  As he slid forward, one leg caught on the front bumper of the car, resulting in a very nasty compound fracture.

When visiting him in hospital later, Charlie commented to Mark, “God, it must have hurt!”  Mark replied, “Well, it would take a bloody lot of it to make a man laugh!”  

This has always seemed to me to be a quintessential example of Australian humour.  Our traditional humour is black, self-deprecating and sarcastic.  Maybe this has been shaped by the harshness of our environment or by the convict origin of European Australia just over 200 years ago.  It is a strong part of our culture.  This is a country where our most holy national holiday (ANZAC Day) is a celebration of a famous military defeat (at Gallipoli).

Stories can convey so much information, often in a few words.  In this example, a brief narrative can say so much more about culture than reams of written analysis.

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