Advice and answers from the Tribal Habits Team

How can I prepare existing knowledge to convert into a Tribal Habits topic?

If you are thinking about creating a Tribal Habits topic, here's a checklist of initial considerations and preparation ideas.
Written by David King
Updated 1 month ago

Tribal Habits is capable of capturing a lot of different types of knowledge and expertise. That gives it tremendous flexibility and encourages topic creators to dive in and get started! Moreover, sometimes, that's the best thing to do. Sage can guide you through your initial topic outline and then help you add your content.

Sometimes, however, you might need to stop and organise your topic idea before you hit the 'Create a topic' button in Tribal Habits! Perhaps your topic will be created by someone else in your organisation and you need to present your idea to them. Alternatively, perhaps you just want to double check your topic is suited to Tribal Habits.

In either case, here's the checklist of the initial considerations you should have before creating a topic in Tribal Habits

Download the checklist and then review this article as a guide to completing it.

WAIT! Are you sure training is the solution to your problem?

We'd love to see you create a topic in Tribal Habits, but first things first - is that the right thing to do? Not every problem has, or needs, a training solution. Whether you are trying to help your staff achieve strategic goals or improve noted problems, you should first ask three other questions.

  1. Recruitment - Have you hired people capable of meeting your expectations in their roles? Sometimes the problem is one of job fit - you have simply hired someone who cannot do the role. No training will fix the problem. They are just a poor fit for the role. Issues like passion, suitability, personality, talent, interest, intelligence or physical ability often cannot be fixed and need to be identified as requirements for that role.
  2. Remuneration - Are you remunerating and rewarding staff in a way which encourages the outcomes and behaviours you want? A classic example of this might be to ask someone to create more client revenue, yet their KPIs (and therefore remuneration) do not include any sales or revenue targets. Staff will focus on what they are paid to do. So check that what you are asking them to do is aligned with how they are being paid.
  3. Resources - Do your staff have the required resources to achieve the outcomes you want? If your teams lack tools, software, staff or time to do what is asked of them, then no amount of training will change that. This includes your staff feeling empowered to take the time to learn. If staff are flat out getting everything done because their team is simply under-resourced, then training is likely to fail. 

If, however, your staff have been correctly recruited to suit the role, are remunerated to focus on the right behaviours and outcomes, and have all the required resources to complete their tasks...then training is your solution. At that point, they must only lack the know-how - skills, knowledge, expertise, experience - to deliver. Now you can be certain that training is the best solution to this problem. So let's now create the right training topic.

What is the purpose of your topic?

Tribal Habits is a knowledge sharing and training platform. It's designed to take knowledge from one person (an expert, whom we call the creator) and transfer it to another group of people (the learners, whom we call explorers). So topics on Tribal Habits excel when the transfer of knowledge is important. 

Tribal Habits also excels at tracking that transfer. It can monitor explorer progress, test understanding through assessments and guide explorers through offline activities to help them implement or demonstrate competency. 

Topics on Tribal Habits can be complex, long and interactive, or focused, short and informative. You can share knowledge of documents, software, products, skills, services, values, capabilities, information and more.

All that being said, Tribal Habits topics are less effective if they...

  • Are very short. If your content is just 5-10 minutes of information, that might not justify the effort of creating a topic AND the effort of explorers interacting with that topic. For example, if your content is just four Power Point slides, that's probably just a few minutes for someone to review. Tribal Habits can create a five-minute topic if its critical that content is transferred to explorers, but you might need to consider if additional content (or combining this topic with another) is more appropriate).
  • Are very simple. If your content is straight-forward and can be understood with a quick read, then perhaps a PDF document is a better choice? Tribal Habits can create simple topics, but sometimes simple is good! Not every piece of knowledge needs interaction, reporting, tracking, assessments and so on! For example, sometimes a one page PDF document is enough for someone to read and understand the knowledge it contains.
  • Are purely informative. If your content is just pure information which someone doesn't need to know in advance, then perhaps a document repository is all you need? For example, if an engineer doesn't really need to know technical specifications by memory, but can instead look them up when required, then there is no purpose in transferring that knowledge to that engineer. 

What is the overview of your topic?

If you feel your topic would benefit from being in Tribal Habits, a good test is to create a Topic Overview. This is the first thing explorers will see in your topic. It's also the first thing you are asked to create in your topic. 

Your topic overview should consist of four elements. 

  • Title. A short title for your topic (max 70 characters).
  • What is the topic about? A paragraph describing the content the topic should address. This information is important not just for future explorers but also to give guidance to the topic creator about what they should include in the scope of the topic.
  • Why is this topic important? A paragraph outlining the relevance of the topic and the benefits to the explorer in completing the topic. This paragraph is also useful for the topic creator to understand how to position content within the topic.
  • Who is this topic for? A sentence or two outlining the roles and experience levels suited to this topic. Once again this is important for the topic creator so they can present content at an appropriate level.

If you can easily create a topic overview, then it seems like your topic will find a good home in Tribal Habits. However, if you struggle to create a topic overview, then perhaps you need to reconsider your topic - either add more content or ideas, or consider if perhaps it is better covered elsewhere.

How might your topic be structured?

When you create a topic in Tribal Habits, one of the first decisions is how to structure your content.

First, topics in Tribal Habits are broken into ‘chunks’. 

Your topic will consist of 1-12 points, which represent the biggest chunks – the broad table of contents headings for your topic. Each point is then broken into sections – the sub-headings within that point. 

Ideally, each topic should be 15-45 minutes in length. This means that each point should be 5-10 minutes in length to improve the experience for people exploring that topic.

So ideally you should at least think about how your topic will fall into a series of 5-10 minute points, perhaps even listing what some of the sections in each of those points should be. 

Second, you should give a label to your points. This can also help you decide how to create your points in the first place. In Tribal Habits, there are five labels for your points - each of which will help guide your decisions about content.

The labels you can use are...

  1. Ideas – This is like a ‘best of’ list and is the default choice if none of the others fit. Usually each point represents one major idea with the sections providing details. A common section breakdown is (a) Describe the idea in detail, (b) Summarise tips/tricks/mistakes, (c) Give a working example. However, sometimes each point can be a collection of ideas on a theme with each section representing a smaller idea in that theme.
  2. Rules – A do/do not structure. Usually, each point is one rule. Then your sections are (a) Here’s the rule and how to follow it, (b) What happens when you don’t follow the rule, (c) 2-3 Examples of the rule in application to clarify understanding and (d) Highlight any exceptions when you might want to break the rule.
  3. Steps – A step-by-step process. Usually, each point is a major step. Then your sections are sub-steps or tasks within that step. Alternatively, each point is a step, and the sections are (a) How to do that step, (b) Tips/Tricks/FAQs/Mistakes about that step, (c) examples of that step in action.
  4. Facts – Similar to ideas but now its purely facts (product knowledge, technical knowledge). This is a text book. So points are major headings and sections are sub-headings. 
  5. Parts – Like an instruction manual for a tool. Each point refers to a part of the tool – like menu items in software or pages in a client document. Your sections might then be sub-choices within that point (various items within a menu; various parts of the page). Alternatively, your sections become (a) Introduce the part and its function, (b) tips/tricks/mistakes in using it and (c) examples of it in action or when to use it. 

How will you measure success?

At this stage, you can be confident your topic is suited to Tribal Habits, has a clear purpose and overview, and has a good structure of key points. 

Your key remaining question is to consider how you will determine success for your topic. This is a critical question. It will help you determine the level of interaction in your topic, but also guide you or your topic creators to add in the right content and tracking.

For example, you could consider...

  • Does the topic need an assessment quiz? Do you want to test explorer's understanding or recall of knowledge? If so, you could add an assessment to your topic - consider how many questions, what's an acceptable passmark and how the questions will be created
  • Do you want to direct explorers to implement certain actions, or demonstrate certain behaviours? If so, you could add activities to your topic. Activities provide explorers with a set of directions to follow to complete a task - have a 1:1 discussion with their manager; implement a new skill; demonstrate proficiency with software; complete a written assessment and so on
  • Do you want to track particular information before or after the topic? Tribal Habits includes several built-in surveys about explorer experience, outcomes, satisfaction and results. However, you may also want to add specific polling or data gathering from explorers in your topic.

Have you organised your content?

As a final preparation step, you should consider how you will organise your content.

  • If your content already exists in other materials, are those materials up to date and easy to re-use? Or do they need to be reviewed first?
  • If your content does not exist, where will it come from? If it is from a subject matter expert, is that person ready and able to contribute the time required to share their expertise
  • If your content needs specific elements like examples, case studies, quiz questions or templates, who will prepare that information?
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