Friday 9 March 2018

Why good Titles are important in KM

If you want knowledge in a lesson, post or knowledge article to be found, give it a good title.

One of the occasional recurring themes of this blog is the importance of Knowledge findability. Knowledge needs to be used in order to add value, and before it can be used it needs to be found. This includes the ability to find knowledge in lessons within a database, stories within a story folder, relevant posts within a community blog, or experience within the head of an expert.

One of the key enablers of findability when it comes to documented stories, lessons and knowledge articles is a Good Title. The Title is the most prominent item in any browsing system or set of search results. The purpose of the Title is to enable the reader to understand whether the item is likely to be relevant to them. Based on the Title, they decide whether to open and read the item. If the title makes no sense, then the seeker may not even realise they have found the knowledge, and may pass over it unknowingly.

So part of the role of the publisher of knowledge, in ensuring findability and reusability, is to give a knowledge item a good and relevant title - not a lazy title, or a "clever" title, or an artistic title, but a title that tells the reader what's inside.

Bad titles

Would you know what the lessons listed were about, before opening them? Would the titles help you find relevant content? Would you even bother to open them? (although I could see you might be intrigued, in some cases). Apologies to any of you who wrote any of these, by the way.
  • Duplicate
  • Learning 1 of 3
  • Public Lessons Learned Entry: 0406
  • Additional learning from (Incident X)
  • Spurious event on (Project Y)
  • Z Project - After Action Review (Lesson Learned)
  • When you sweep the stairs, always start from the top (this one was not about stair sweeping by the way)
  • From take-off to landing (and it's not about flying a plane)
  • Problem

Good titles.

If you want to see good practice in using titles, browse the NASA lessons database where you can find titles like these:

These titles clearly tell you what the lesson is about, and the reader instantly knows whether the lesson is relevant to their context. In almost every case the lesson is related to a process - handling of panels, mapping PC boards, fabrication of cable - or to a component such as Hypergol checkout panels. Someone planning a similar process, or designing a similar component, can find the lesson based in the title.

If you want knowledge to be found and used - pay attention to the title!

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