I am taking an Organization of Information course as part of my Studies at Dalhousie and recently learned this. As I am helping a client develop a taxonomy at the moment it was particularly relevant and I thought I would share it. My notes below are from a series of three videos that were part of the assigned reading, links are below. The gentleman featured in the video is Zach Wahl from PPC whatever that is…. anyway here are the steps that I took away from the video:
1. Create a working group of information creators and brokers into a room 12-18 people that are largely business users. The goal is come up with a starter “Business” taxonomy. A business taxonomy differs from others in that it is focused on being practical and usable rather than complete and rigorous.
2. Identify users and audiences – white board
3. Identify verbs – everyone write down 7-8 things we do, or want to do in the information space
collect all verbs. This is the path to the nouns – topics
4. Then you move to nouns. Draw blank after each verb. Fill in the blanks to get to nouns which are the topics, include duplicates.
5. Remove the non starters; document types, locations, organizational names., audience types. Now you have a list of potential topics.
6. Look for themes, facilitate group to collect terms and reduce to tight list. Some of which will be clean and some will be dirty. This gets you a starter list.
7. Return to list of non-starters and look for themes that could become secondary metadata.
There are other activities not detailed that support the workshop but are mentioned in the video like card sorting.
One of the big benefits of the workshop approach is that it creates a group within the organization that is educated and engaged with the resulting taxonomy. They form a team capable of selling it to other employees and evolving across time. The downside of the approach is the time it takes; 12-18 people in a room for three days is significant.