August 16, 2006

Wanted: Free Knowledge - Apply Within

Two posts in one night....ooooooohhh, hehehehe.

Last week, over at my highly off-color Friendster blog, I recounted my experience interviewing for the KM spot at one of Atlanta's pharmaceutical companies. Mostly the interviews went (IMHO) very well, but the last one sucked big honkin' rocks and became the inspiration for the post "So what does a knowledge manager look like, exactly?".

Inspired by my recruiter training and looking back on this interview and at least one other, I came to an interesting conclusion: I was had! It occurred to me that what was for me, an interview, was for the company, a consultation. They were using me (and everyone else they interviewed) as unpaid consultants to help them determine what type of KM strategy they needed and what direction they should go in.

Ain't that a blip!?!?!

Now, I don't have any proof and I'm not naming any names and someone could accuse me of being bitter about not getting an offer - which I'm not; after my experience with Brierley, I've become very good at interviewing the organization as thoroughly as I'm being interviewed, and if they decide they don't want me for one reason or another, I take that as a sign of a poor fit, not a lack of qualification (unless I've been told otherwise) and a good fit is a necessity for me these days.

Anywho, I came to this conclusion because at least two organizations re-issued revised position descriptions following multiple rounds of "interviews" with yours truly (and others, I'm sure). I'm not saying there is/was anything unethical about this or that specific ideas I presented found their way into these revised descriptions, I just think that large, multinational corporations should (and can afford to) hire one of the many qualified and respectable consultants in the field to perform a Knowledge Audit and assess the organizations needs before attempting to fill a KM post. The final assessment should provide the basis for the KM strategy and vision, identify the skills and experience needed for a knowledge manager in that particular organization and, among other things, function as a recruiting tool.

After all, every knowledge manager brings a unique set of skills and experience to the table, which is a beautiful thing because every organization needs something different. However, it is exceedingly rude, disrespectful, and just plain cheap to waste someone's valuable time engaging them in an interview process that can't or won't be consummated because the organization doesn't really know what it wants.

This is why I stress in every interview and conversation I have on KM that a knowledge manager has to be a consultant and not a salesperson. You have to be capable of diagnosing the organizational situation and prescribing an appropriate course of action - maybe you're the right person to tackle the situation, maybe you're not; that is each knowledge managers ethical dilemma - accept the challenge or take a pass. But it is unwise and poor knowledge management to go in selling a solution based solely on what you've done in the past or around a particular set of applications you're experienced using. Large consulting firms do this all the time and I challenge anyone to justify the validity, logic, and, more importantly, the success of mass-produced KM systems/strategies.

At any rate, this whole experience and line of thinking gave me a great idea for carving a niche in the KM market - selling my services as a combined Knowledge Auditor and Recruiter - perform the audit, flesh out the overall strategy, identify the skills needed in the top KM spot, then go out and recruit someone for the job.

And, in line with that statement, I think there should be Knowledge Auditor certification training; just like accountants go through to become CPA's...a CPKA. That would be cool and worth going back to school for but then, what isn't?

I'm such a geek.