KM Leader Job Description, Selling KM Face to Face, Dead KM Walking, KM Method Cards, Communities Manual, Brain Rules

09-Jul-08 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Question of the Week

Q: What is the job description for a knowledge manager?

A: For a KM leader, here is a suggested job description.


  1. Improve business results by institutionalizing a knowledge-sharing culture. With the help of the senior executive and the other leaders in the organization, take steps to achieve a positive culture which rewards caring, sharing, and daring.
  2. Define, maintain, and execute the KM implementation plan for the organization. This is the overall program plan for the KM initiative.
  3. Define, communicate, and implement people, process, and technology components for sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning. These are the core elements that enable the KM program.
  4. Define KM measurements and rewards for the organization and KM goals for all relevant members. This aligns individual and organizational objectives.
  5. Report regularly on the organization’s performance against KM metrics. This lets the leadership team know how the program is progressing.
  6. Implement action plans for people, process, and technology projects. These are the detailed implementation plans for each project leader.
  7. Lead the organization’s KM teams. These include the program staff, the core team, and the KM community.
  8. Manage the organization’s KM communications. This keeps all users informed on the program.
  9. Actively participate in communities. Model the desired behaviors by being visible as a leader and member of multiple internal and external communities.
  10. Network with other KM Leaders. Demonstrate the use of social networks to stay current in the field of knowledge management.


  1. Management: supervised people, led work teams, managed a business or functional unit
  2. Project management: successfully managed projects to meet deadlines, provide deliverables, and adhere to budgets
  3. Communications: published documents, gave presentations, and managed communications programs
  4. Knowledge Management Components: for many of these, performed evaluations, led implementation projects, and used them regularly
  5. Reputation: has earned the respect of people both inside and outside of the organization based on accomplishments, networking, and communications


  1. Leadership: able to influence others, lead work teams, and manage projects
  2. Communications: excellent at writing, speaking, presenting, and using a variety of communications vehicles
  3. Process and Technology: able to quickly learn and master a wide variety of tools and processes
  4. Knowledge Management Components: expert at using many of these
  5. Analysis: able to seek input, analyze information, consider alternatives, and make good decisions


1. Adaptable

  1. Flexible: willing to try different courses of action
  2. Resilient: overcomes difficulties, withstands setbacks, and meets challenges
  3. Open-minded: considers the opinions of others

2. Assertive

  1. Takes initiative
  2. Consistently achieves challenging objectives and meets commitments
  3. Makes effective decisions in a timely manner

3. Calm

  1. Maintains a high level of performance even when under pressure
  2. Even-tempered even when dealing with unpleasant circumstances
  3. Balances logic and emotions when interacting with others

4. Client-focused

  1. Understands clients’ needs and concerns
  2. Responds promptly and effectively to client needs
  3. Eager to be of help to users

5. Creative

  1. Develops innovative approaches to problem solving
  2. Invents new ways of doing things
  3. Willing to try out bold ideas

6. Collaborative

  1. Acknowledges others’ contributions
  2. Works effectively with individuals of different backgrounds and from different groups
  3. Willing to seek help as needed
  4. Shares personal knowledge
  5. Builds partnerships and networks

7. Curious

  1. Stays current in the field
  2. Open to new ideas
  3. Asks others to share their knowledge and experience

8. Dynamic

  1. Gets results
  2. Balances analysis with action
  3. Sets high standards

9. Influential

  1. Gains support and commitment from others even without formal authority
  2. Resolves differences by determining needs and forging solutions that benefit all parties
  3. Facilitates teamwork across organizational boundaries

10. Personable

  1. Gets along well with many different types of people
  2. Nurtures new relationships
  3. Well-liked as a manager, employee, and colleague

Also see:

KM Thought Leader of the Week

I was asked by APQC, “If you were invited to give a keynote speech on knowledge management, what words of wisdom or lessons learned would you impart?”

I posed this same question to many KM thought leaders. This week continues a series called “Selling KM: Lessons from Experience” based on the answer from Richard Cross. This is Part 3, with the final part to follow next week.

Part 3: Face-to-Face Selling

In front of customers

Inside selling, the prime issue is control of attention. Effective sales people do this by demonstrating genuine and natural empathy. Early in my career, research on effective sales people concluded that while highly competitive, they were behaviorally switched on to notice when the customer’s attention and intentions were elsewhere. They engaged with their customers as well as internal staff. Optimistic in outlook, they were caring, behavioral and good forward planners.

In action, the best sales performers structured the sale and kickoff connecting with the customer at a conceptual, business, and personal level. From the outset they gained credibility and the rights to explore sensitive business topics and question and nudge the customer to a decision. Comfortable both on the top and shop floor, the most successful looked like Directors, saw themselves as Directors and acted like them. No door was closed — on stage in front of the customer (both internal and external) they were ‘all singing, all dancing’ brochures that responded to the needs of the audience.

The above attributes are not dissimilar to Rob Cross’s energizers described as “fully present and engaged at all meetings: such people listen actively and use their expertise appropriately. Their interactions are marked by a sense of progress.” It is interesting to note further similarities: energizers create room in interactions for people and note the positives. When they disagree, they offer alternatives and disclose their own logic. They are able to separate the critique of the idea from person who offered it.

Similarly goal-driven, effective sales people are flexible in output and create trust step by step. They have self belief. Under pressure from customers with tough challenges, rather than disagree with the customer directly (and expose the customer’s stupidity) they reveal difficulties and problems by asking smart questions — and give themselves thinking time.

They may not offer the elegance of your KM solution, or may be based on an industrial model of consultancy. You may not want to do business with this person, but your decision makers do.

Structuring the Sale

There are as many selling strategies as there are KM strategies. The approach summarized below is a framework based on asking the right questions at the right time. It was originally developed for multi-national organizations including Xerox, IBM, Motorola and McKinsey by Huthwaite. Roger Sugden, a former colleague, was one of their early researchers. It’s a highly consultative style of selling which is best used with flexibility.

Effective salespeople (not just those involved in KM) recognize that statements of dissatisfaction and expressions of interest are only the start of the sales process. A basic premise of the approach is in order to persuade that it is important to understand. Consequently, either naturally or through training, they recognize there is a need to probe deeper and to help the customer to explore the problem in greater depth, and to appreciate its true significance. They have a structure for the sale that builds mutual trust with the end result in mind — progress and change — symbolized by a result, a purchase order.

Contextual Clarity and Behavioral Certainty

Based on an understanding of the buying cycle, after sufficient but not excessive situation questions where they establish contextual information facts, effective sales people also gain insight into personal drivers, attitude to risk, and connections of the buyer(s). They are well prepared, and have often conducted a risk assessment even before they have met customer.

Problems, Problems…Opportunities

One of the easiest ways to identify whether someone has received sales training is by the number of problem questions they ask. Verna Allee talks about the fact that there is really only one management question: What do we need to pay attention to in order to be successful? Linked to this a focus on searching for problems can create the appropriate conversational context.

The seller’s problem questions typically explore the customer’s needs in terms of identifying the precise (where possible) nature of the problem: its extent, its frequency, its impact, and the seriousness of it. They also help clarify, in this stage, what the customer sees as the main benefits of solving the problem — business drivers in their jargon. Generally they begin with What, How, When and Where.

Work out the implications…leverage the consequences

Implication questions are designed to help you understand, not to prove a point. They are not designed to increase the threshold of pain to unacceptable levels. They help you raise awareness of the effects of problems associated with the status quo or state of flux. In line with one of the fundamental principles of consulting, the intent is to create moderate, not excessive, pain. They help build the seriousness of the problem so it becomes significant enough to take action. Their purpose is focusing on the consequences, amplifying, extending, and expanding the effects and linking a problem in one area to other potential or actual problems.

Questions structured in this way help the customer to build a picture of needs that leads naturally to a tipping point in favor of a decision in support of change. They also expand the buyer’s perceptions of value and get down to the basics — buying signals or explicit needs. Generally in a sale involving multiple decision makers, such questions also help develop common ground — a shared perspective and feeling of urgency around a problem. Often an energizer, sometimes called an inside coach, will lobby and help develop a shared perspective through raising this type of question on a one-on-one basis or using these issues to provoke group discussions on these areas.

Where implication questions work best is when they help link internal problems with the wider world of the customer and focus on issues that have impact on the key performance indicators such as the bottom line. They are most relevant to decision makers whose success depends on seeing the beyond the immediate problem to the underlying effects and possible consequences at a business level. Be warned: they are totally ineffective when you develop implications you can’t solve! It also pays to be sensitive in how the questions are asked. A conversation or dialogue is acceptable; an interrogation is not.

The objective is to ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of exactly what is required in order to solve the problem. More important, they also explore the potential benefits of implementing the solution and create a desire for action. Only then do effective sellers begin to explore potential solutions (their own) with the customer. This is a crucial step, because the customer must be left with a clear understanding of the value of the solution versus its cost, the need payoff.

The purpose then is to energize the buyer, to develop their perception of payoff from working with you and your approach and develop a clear explicit desire for you and your solution. Since you know the capabilities of your solution, it’s always easier for you to see the payoff. Do not believe your own propaganda. Whether you believe your approach has value is irrelevant — the buyer has to believe it also. If you start to make wild claims about what you can solve, there is a risk that the buyer or others will focus on the ones you can’t.

In a complex sale, your success depends not just on your own selling ability, but on how well people sell on your behalf. Consequently, it’s also useful to get the buyer to explain the benefits to you, not the other way round. This can help rehearse internal energizers and increase their confidence in you.

But what about KM?

You’ll probably notice that in this approach there has not been that much talk about KM per se. Correct. One point that may help is to remind ourselves at all times that telling is not selling. To demonstrate the capability of KM, it is essential you have completed your groundwork before you introduce your solution. Remember that your buyer has to have expressed an explicit need.

Because KM is based on how people really work and collaborate, you can learn from the experiences of others. There are benefits if these features and advantages can meet explicit needs stated by buyers. The goal is to develop the buyer’s problem so that it is strong and clear, and in so doing, develop their desire for and ownership of a joint solution.

Next Week: How to make friends and influence organizations to adopt KM

KM Blog of the Week

Dead KM Walking by Patrick Lambe

A fascinating, robust and sometimes sharp discussion with Larry Prusak and Dave Snowden on the topic “Is Knowledge Management Dead?” They think that KM as a field has been irredeemably corrupted by the many false plays and hijacks it has been subjected to, while I still have hope. Watch the podcast for the full story, and a million thanks to Larry and Dave for a great conversation.

Also by Patrick Lambe:

A set of concise summary cards covering KM approaches (e.g., CoPs, Information Literacy, KM Champions), methods (e.g., After Action Reviews, Pre-Mortems, Anecdote Circles) and tools (e.g., Wikis, Taxonomies, Competency Frameworks). We’ve used them in a variety of activities with our clients, often in helping them to visualize and plan how they are going to operationalize their KM strategies. Our clients have used them to provide quick reference guides to their KM activists and champions, and also to identify training and competency development needs. They’ve been so successful, that we finally decided to bite the bullet and produce a commercial version of them.

KM Link of the Week

From Peter Hobby in KM4Dev

Capitalizing Knowledge, Connecting Communities (CK2C) Communities Manual

CK2C and have developed this online manual to support communities and collaboration. CK2C is a US Agency for International Development project to strengthen knowledge sharing and learning in natural resources management. We have compiled the resources on this site from the US Agency for International Development and other sources as a one-stop manual for starting, maintaining and closing down online communities. It is a work in progress and we are looking for feedback.

This site has grown out of awareness that communities need care and feeding just like any other natural resource. The main sections of the manual are listed below. Discussion and history pages are available across the top of each page as you move through the site. The sections in the main navigation area are organized around a lifecycle approach to communities and the tools and templates are available to supplement your work on CoPs.


  • Overview
  • Planning Communities
  • Getting Started
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Members
  • Sustaining
  • Closeout
  • Communications

Tools and Templates

  • Communities Questionnaire
  • Community Charter
  • Community Lifecycle
  • Community Roles
  • Metrics
  • Principles and Rules
  • After Action Reviews
  • Additional Resources

KM Book of the Week

From Allan Crawford in the SIKM Leaders Community

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina

Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know — like the need for physical activity to get your brain working its best.

How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget — and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains?

In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule — what scientists know for sure about how our brains work — and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.

You will discover how:

  • Every brain is wired differently
  • Exercise improves cognition
  • We are designed to never stop learning and exploring
  • Memories are volatile
  • Sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn
  • Vision trumps all of the other senses
  • Stress changes the way we learn

In the end, you’ll understand how your brain really works — and how to get the most out of it.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1. Exercise Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power 7

  • Our brains love motion
  • The incredible test-score booster
  • Will you age like Jim or like Frank?
  • How oxygen builds roads for the brain

2. Survival Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too 29

  • What’s uniquely human about us
  • A brilliant survival strategy
  • Meet your brain
  • How we conquered the world

3. Wiring Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently 49

  • Neurons slide, slither, and split
  • Experience makes the difference
  • Furious brain development not once, but twice
  • The Jennifer Aniston neuron

4. Attention Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things 71

  • Emotion matters
  • Why there is no such thing as multitasking
  • We pay great attention to threats, sex, and pattern matching
  • The brain needs a break!

5. Short-term memory Rule #5: Repeat to remember 95

  • Memories are volatile
  • How details become splattered across the insides of our brains
  • How the brain pieces them back together again
  • Where memories go

6. Long-term memory Rule #6: Remember to repeat 121

  • If you don’t repeat this within 30 seconds, you’ll forget it
  • Spaced repetition cycles are key to remembering
  • When floating in water could help your memory

7. Sleep Rule #7: Sleep well, think well 149

  • The brain doesn’t sleep to rest
  • Two armies at war in your head
  • How to improve your performance 34 percent in 26 minutes
  • Which bird are you?
  • Sleep on it!

8. Stress Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way 169

  • Stress is good, stress is bad
  • A villain and a hero in the toxic-stress battle
  • Why the home matters to the workplace
  • Marriage intervention for happy couples

9. Sensory integration Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses 197

  • Lessons from a nightclub
  • How and why all of our senses work together
  • Multisensory learning means better remembering
  • What’s that smell?

10. Vision Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses 221

  • Playing tricks on wine tasters
  • You see what your brain wants to see, and it likes to make stuff up
  • Throw out your PowerPoint

11. Gender Rule #11: Male and female brains are different 241

  • Sexing humans
  • The difference between little girl best friends and little boy best friends
  • Men favor gist when stressed; women favor details
  • A forgetting drug

12. Exploration Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers 261

  • Babies are great scientists
  • Exploration is aggressive
  • Monkey see, monkey do
  • Curiosity is everything


Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager