How do I describe my ‘work in KM’?

Might it be another phoenix of the knowledge management world next to assessing KM: the description of our job as knowledge worker?

There are lots of variation to the job of ‘knowledge management specialist’ and lots of related functions. In a recent fragment about knowledge work identities which I collected on my TumblR from a conversation happening in the knowledge brokers’ forum, nearly 50 job titles were offered for knowledge brokers.

Clearly, knowledge work begs for simple explanations that unveil a complex function.

Ewen Le Borgne (ILRI/KMIS) facilitating the CCAFS workshop on climate-smart crop breeding

What do I tell people who inquire what my work is?

I tell them different things: That I hold a mirror to help us all realise what we do, why and how. That I work on making sure that we become more effective in our work dynamically (i.e. continually, over time, not just for a given task or project) through learning, managing the information that matters to us and managing access to and curation from knowledge sources (conversations and the people behind), and that we do this more effectively as collectives rather than alone – hence the need to become social learning heroes.

I tell them that my work in KM is about avoiding reinventing the wheel, getting more perspectives on the same issue to find better, more sustainable solutions, ensuring that our conversations increase in number and improve in quality and help us get better.

Depending on who I’m talking to, I also tell people that I work in communication but not the message-based ‘military’ type of communication (with bullet-like messages targeted at people with hopes for impact), that I work rather on making communication engaging, collective and reflective. I tell people that I work on all of this from the perspective of knowledge management, communication and monitoring/evaluation/learning.

But is this really good enough?

Nick Milton rightly prompts us all to be able to “sell” our knowledge work in a compelling, powerful and short ‘sales pitch’. So here’s a revised elevator pitch that speaks to the three points that seem imperative to address in conveying our KM message:

  • What’s my point – what do I do for a job? I help people think critically about the information and expertise they need (by themselves or through others) to develop better and more sustainable solutions for the problems they face and connect with or trigger the conversations they need to do that; in the process I make them more likely to proactively seek these solutions in the future, both online through social media and offline through engaging meetings and events.
  • What’s in it for you? I can help you use the potential of knowledge work and social learning to be more effective now and continually, more connected to your field(s) of interest and expertise, more innovative and happier by helping and being helped by others.
  • What do I want you to do? I hope you can point me to the areas you would like to improve to become more effective and better connected and to see how social media and other means can get you there, “standing on the shoulders of giants“.

Of course this pitch needs to be adapted to the very people I engage with, but as a global pitch, tell me if you think that sells it enough and what you would change otherwise 🙂

Related blog posts:


Published by Ewen Le Borgne

Collaboration and change process optimist motivated by ‘Fun, focus and feedback’. Nearly 20 years of experience in group facilitation and collaboration, learning and Knowledge Management, communication, innovation and change in development cooperation. Be the change you want to see, help others be their own version of the same.

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  1. Hello Jaume,

    Thank you for your comment! You’re right, examples are powerful in narratives of change – and I’m not particularly good at telling stories and sharing examples but definitely have to work on this. Elevator pitches themselves sometimes don’t hold time for examples, as they can be more about selling arguments to do sthg, rather than telling from the past how things work – but as soon as those elevator pitches hook the interest of the person pitched at, good stories need to flow in.

    So yes, I’ve got to practice this pitch with different stories for different people. I’ll tell you how it goes… Thanks again for your engagement, as ever!

  2. If you’re trying that this “elevator pitch” function as such, do not forget to give examples.

    Possibly, examples of situations “as close as possible to the audience”, could be used to suit it to each particular audience. And this will help you in the task to adapt this pitch to the people.


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