Innovation Context Management 

Innovators should consider being supremely aware of context. Time to define terms.

SVII defines Innovation as Applied Insight. My trusty Apple dictionary defines context as a noun meaning; the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. Insight can be thought of as generally relativistic in that, what is well known in some circumstances may not be known at all in others. In either case if it is not applied, than innovation is not occurring, and therefore has no chance of adoption or monetization. Hopefully, management attempts to integrate insights and resources in order to realize innovation and permit adoption.

Context, has been mentioned here as ever value increasing, when advancing data, to information and then knowledge. It is widely agreed that knowledge is more valuable than information and that information is more valuable than data. A stream of numbers without attached or implied units is far less useful than letting people know if what is being described is the weather on Mercury in Celsius or the Hong Kong stock market in Hong Kong dollars or how many miles a vehicle can travel. Changing units, locations, time zones and a multitude of other contextualizing factors dramatically impact the meaning of data and information. The half life of information or data dramatically increases when there is enough context to promote them to knowledge. When there is enough experience providing context it is even possible to get to a level of understanding that transcends domains and this is called wisdom.

As context increases both value and half life, it is certainly worth being aware of and of at least attempting to manage when possible. Innovators ignore context at their peril. On the other hand attempting to completely understand the technology, manufacturing, design, marketing, sales and managment of a products development process can take more time then is available. Too much context can be paralyzing and too little can be crippling.  This is why context has to be managed, and to mange it one has to be aware of it and of its importance. Understanding and managing context is singularly important to success for any creative person.

Consider situations when someone is attempting to describe something never seen or thought about before. Are they particularly observant, especially imaginative or both? The ensuing qualification process is one of (shared) context definition. Communication is on the critical path to innovation, and not just communication in general, but communication of context in particular.

Innovators have tendency to come up with insights requiring help to manifest. Even if they can completely apply their insight without external resource they still have to convince someone to adopt or at least try it. They need stakeholders which means there needs to be a story.  No story = No stakeholders.

A story is a great way to simultaneously convey in an integrated manner, information and context. Stories are also experientially and emotionally relevant. This is impossible without considering, managing and delivering context.

Innovators tend think of disruption or of being more evolutionary.  In both cases they need to ultimately become forces of convergence, not divergence. Divergence may be necessary at the beginning of the story, but by the end convergence is needed for market adoption. Context handled well provides the right mix of divergence, differentiation, convergence and relevancy.

If you are a creative person on the way to your next innovation please pay attention to, and do not unconsciously assume context.