So what do you do?

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… 

Picture this situation.  You are on the TV quiz show “1 vs 100”, as a contestant in the “mob”.  If you are in Australia, then your host is Eddie McGuire.  Eddie turns to you, and says, “Number 85 – what’s your name?”  You reply.  Then Eddie asks, “And what work do you do?”  If you say, “Knowledge Management”, how will the crowd react? 

More to the point, Eddie’s next question will probably be, “What’s Knowledge Management?”  So now what do you say?  You are on camera on national TV.  You most definitely don’t have time to start a debate on the meaning of knowledge, the definitions of data and information, or to deliver a treatise on epistemology.  According to Wikipedia, an elevator pitch is 100 to 150 words, or 30 seconds.  You don’t even have that long.

After a few attempts to distil what I do into a few words, here’s what I would attempt to say:

“Eddie, my job is to help our sales force with information on our products, using an online library and newsletter, and training sessions.” 

Would I have enough time to say this?  Would it be meaningful enough?

What do you do, and how would you explain it to Eddie (or Bob, Dermot or whoever) in 25 words or less?


  1. […] So, in case you ever wondered, I did actually appear on “1 vs 100”.  I spent a total of four days in the studio in January and February, and actually had a total of three turns in the “mob”.  The closest I came to winning a significant amount of money was during the game where Jennifer Collingwood was out the front.  This final part of this game went to air on 23 April.  You may well have seen me on screen a few times in this episode – I was in podium 85, near the front, a little to the left. […]

  2. funnily enough, i’d love a job as a KM manager, and even create the position in my current organization. I guess i’d better get rehearsing this elevator pitch.

    To me it should sound like:
    I make easier peoples’ lives by making sure we all share what can be shared and know each other well enough to make the best work possible, taking advantage of each other’s knowledge and capabilities.

    Yes, i do have a slight bias towards competencies management and believe firmly that it must be integrated in KM.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.