con - text [kon-tekst] – noun
1. the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.
2. the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.
To Obtain Alignment, Context is Key
At the heart of organization-wide alignment is a common context. Context influences how we interpret information. It’s the lens through which we view and make sense of the world.
Think about context like a map at a large airport. To understand where you are, you need a map of the layout – that’s the big picture. That’s context. From there you can determine where you need to go and how to get there.
Each of us comes to the workplace with our own context because of how we’re raised, our experience, background, and so on. That’s a wonderful thing because we need diversity more than ever today, especially when innovation is critical for business success.
However, to make smart business plans and decisions, employees need to understand the collective context and way in which leadership views the environment in which the organization operates. The goal is one message about the organizational strategy; many voices.
Alignment Means Getting On the Same Page
Every leader might have a specific point-of-view on customer issues, the marketplace or top strengths that an organization needs to leverage. In the end, the leadership team needs a collective point-of-view that everyone backs. You don’t want a rogue leader confusing employees or causing you or other leaders to do clean-up because they choose to share their individual opinions vs. your collective leadership view. Alignment means getting on the same page—literally.
One of the biggest benefits of a common context is that leadership and employees are focused on the customer and not on the navel-gazing that often happens inside organizations.
What topic are you communicating that might need more context to be understood and acted upon?
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