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Lexicon: Context Counts

(Part 3 of my Lexicon Series)

Happy New Year! We pick up our series this year right where we left off (albeit later than originally intended). We left off our series with two fundamental definitions; data and datum. They represent the foundations building blocks for Corporate Wisdom and Corporate Culture. However, simply articulating and/or collecting data (BIG DATA) or many datum (BIG DATUM), will not magically turn into a highly tuned corporate machine with a deeply seeded and healthy culture. On the contrary, these bricks can be lain in a windy path to nowhere, just as easily as they can be designed into the highway to success. One way to leaders can facilitate setting the proper course is to identify a “North Star”. That is, point a direction, identify and define the mission, articulate the core values, exemplify, and in a word; Lead. Identifying the North Star for others to follow initializes the context by which all planning, activities, and actions can build around. Moreover, this context aids in the initial identification of what is truly important on the path towards success. And, conveniently it sets up our next definition; Information.

Information: [infərˈmāSH(ə)n]. Noun.

– Cherry-picked from definitions by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Online)

  1. Facts, Data

  2. The attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something that produce specific effects

  3. A quantitative measure of the content of information

  4. The communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence

By definition, only datum can be “information”. Data points strung together without context are not inherently informative, although could be depending upon the context of an assigned North Star. Without a focal point by which to attribute two or more data points, we stand the risk of losing the opportunity to gain insight, or information.

Let’s illustrate using a simple example where we are zookeepers in charge of the lion’s den, and given the two points of data, “BLUE” and “CAR”. Unless a blue car is sitting in the middle of the exhibit, we have little need for that information, and may in fact discard it as unimportant. However, given context, the same information may be extremely important if we are looking for a missing child at the Zoo, whom was last seen in a blue car. Now our two original data points take on a different meaning, and begin to convey important information.

So how do we as corporate leaders need to apply this on our journey along our cultural paradigm? Simply put, we must set a North Star for our employees to allow them to gain insights of information for the datum they encounter each day. By setting the course, we allow our team to discover potential game-changing nuance towards our larger corporate goals. It allows for autonomous professional growth within the bounded direction set for by corporate leadership. And, it inherently supports the efficient development of corporate culture from the grassroots level.

We are 3/8th of the way down the path of our cultural paradigm. Now, let me provide some context for the direction we are headed in the rest of our series. I believe this information will provide you with some insights for what is to come, and how you may better leverage the series in your own pursuits.

Data --> Datum --> Information --> Insight --> Intelligence --> Knowledge --> Wisdom --> Culture

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