July 23, 2016

Context is king


You’ve probably forgotten what you know. Not the knowledge, but that it’s important.

A newbie joins your team or you bring in some outsiders for a project. Your job is to get them adding as much value as possible as soon as possible. For some jobs that’s pretty straightforward – point a management accountant at the management information system and they’re off and running – but for others, context is king.

Not just what is their job, but where does it fit. Why is that job important? How does it contribute to the overriding plan? What is that plan? How did we get here? What’s on target? What’s missing? Why? What have you tried? What isn’t working? Where is the opportunity? What are you thinking?

You may not believe context is worth the detour to explain, but any new team member worth their place will be trying to work this stuff out anyway. You either share what you know quickly, or they work it out slowly (and get some of it wrong).

The fastest route to their adding value … the one with a map.

Skippy strategy: Whenever you bring anyone new onboard, provide a ramp. For every new specific of the job, show the context.

First published 16th June 2015.