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The Chief Knowledge Officer’s first speech

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —May 7, 2006
Filed in Communication

David Maister has just written an example speech for a new Marketing Director starting out in a law firm. It occurred to me that a very similar approach would work for a newly appointed Chief Knowledge Officer, Knowledge Manager, Director of Knowledge.. Below is David’s version with some modifications in square brackets.

“As your new [Knowledge Manager], my job is to support YOUR efforts to attract, win and retain clients. I cannot do that for you; I can only help you do it better.

“If you are energized and motivated to want to get involved in developing your practice, I will be available to offer advice customized to your practice, your personal situation and your ambitions. It will not be the same advice across the board, because each of you is different, and I must learn to serve you as individuals, not as clones of each other.

“I’ll try to be a trustworthy counselor to each of you. Tell me your objectives, and I’ll try to help you accomplish them, if I can.

“I can offer advice and execution assistance on a wide variety of [knowledge-related] activities, including [how to best find, and share relevant knowledge, increase innovation] and so on. I can help you make each of these more effective. However, I will not give blanket recommendations about which of these tactics to use, nor how each of them can best be used. In all cases, the best technique will be one that both fits you and will appeal to your clients. We will discover what these specifics are through personal discussions, or not at all.

“Part of my job will be to help you understand what it will take to accomplish the goals you say you want to achieve.

“Occasionally, this will mean that me pointing out that you are aiming for unreachable goals, or that the amount of effort and resources you are willing to dedicate will not get you where you say you want to go. While I will do my best to help you achieve your goals, I will not encourage you to launch half-measures if I don’t think they will work.

“In order to serve you well, I will need the privilege of giving my opinion and sharing my knowledge about what works. I will be your advisor, dedicated to your success. I will not just do what you tell me to do if I think you will be wasting your time.

“It’s not my job to tell you to get involved in business development. If you do want to get involved, then I am here to help. If you don’t then, as your employee, I cannot and will not try to force anything upon you. I will only give my opinion and advice when it is asked for.

“So, please give me a call so that we can meet one-on-one, and I can truly understand what you want to accomplish with your career and your business. I promise you that, if you do, I will do everything in power to assist you in accomplishing your goals. Thank you very much.”

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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