Have you ever had a child ask you, “Why?” only to follow it up with another “Why?” immediately after you gave what you thought was a well-thought out explanation? 

It's frustrating, isn't it? You may think they are intentionally trying to irritate you by asking the same question again and again, but consider the possibility that you didn’t answer their core question to begin with.  

Why Digital Asset Management?

A fantastic recent article suggested continuing this cycle of answering 'why' questions until you get to the heart of an idea — the answer that people want to hear the first time. 

It’s difficult to get to that answer because we assume things are evident to others when they are not. Communications in general are filled with assumptions. 

For example, right now I’m assuming you already know what digital asset management (DAM) is and also that you are looking for a way to convince your manager or an executive committee to give you a whole lot of money for a new software tool. Those are some pretty big assumptions.  

Digging for Answers Through 9 Whys 

“9 Whys to an Elevator Speech” discusses an exercise that I think can be particularly applicable to those working in digital asset management. Anyone who works in the DAM field or involved in DAM projects knows you spend a big chunk of time explaining what DAM is and why a DAM project is important for an organization.  

In this exercise, you partner with an individual and interview one another about a project you are involved in. The interviewer digs deeper after each answer to help you get to the root of why the project is important to you and uncovers assumptions you may be unaware you're making when you describe the project. 

“Each person in a pair is interviewed by his or her partner for five minutes. Starting with “What do you do when working on ____?” the interviewer gently seeks a deeper answer by repeating the query: “Why is that important to you?” Switch roles after five minutes."

Karen Vargus, evaluation specialist at the NNLM Evaluation Office (NEO) at University of Washington, wrote after she led this exercise at a workshop, “When I heard each successive statement, I thought 'these are so powerful. If I was a stakeholder, I would want to know these things.' And then I thought they would make great elevator speeches.”

All You Get Is 20 Seconds

Can you explain what digital asset management is and why it’s an important initiative for you company in 20 to 30 seconds — the average length of an elevator ride?  If not, you might want to try out this exercise with a colleague.

Learning Opportunities

It’s difficult to pull an elevator speech out of nowhere. You have to start with the first why and build from there. Use this exercise to pull out powerful statements that are self-evident to you, but really belong in your elevator pitch. If you are interested in doing this exercise with your immediate team you can find further instructions online.  

I tried this exercise with a partner and recorded it. What I found was insightful and will influence how I present my work and our field to strangers. Your whys for digital asset management may be very different, but the results will be the same.

A New Insight

To start, I wrote down five things I do when I do digital asset management at work. Then we began the five minute interview where my partner asked me questions about why I do certain tasks and why those things were important to me. What I found was two main values kept popping up when we drilled down into the driving force behind my work. Knowledge sharing and transparency were the key values giving meaning and value to my work in digital asset management.

Of course that’s not always where I start when I tell people what I do and why they should also care about DAM. But I think in the future I’ll lead with those things. So without further ado, here it is, a DAM elevator speech:

My DAM Elevator Speech

I save people time by keeping them from doing work that’s already been done and I surface knowledge resources that they need to do their work. I help people at my company increase knowledge sharing through transparency. That’s what drives me, and that’s why I’m in digital asset management. 

Now it's your turn — what's your DAM elevator speech?  

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