May 8, 2022

Context Is King

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Posted by Sharmarke Hujale

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3 min read

You probably have heard that context is king. It's true, context provides focus. And the context of all the work that you do derives from your WHY. The reason why you started your business in the first place.

When you are clear on why you do what you do. You will be aware of why you start to derail from the path you sat out from the beginning. If not, you will have a hard time understanding why things aren't going the way you intended them to be.

And when you start making products or services that are out of context. People will start to wonder what's going on. Much like when a good friend of yours starts to act out of character. It's like you don't know them anymore.

Master carpenter, joiner, and founder of LEGO Ole Kirk Christiansen was committed to high-quality and children's development through play. Whatever he did and what the organization still does today is in the context of children's development through play. The focus is on the children. Even when you look at Lego's headquarters. It carries the legacy of the founder.

Through the 80s and 90s, the LEGO group expanded and became a giant. The organization introduced products such as computer games, action figures, and television shows. It also opened amusement parks in different parts of the world. But in the years 2003 and 2004, the organization hit a brick with debt in the millions. The focus on what made LEGO who they are, eventually became lost.

It was not until the then CEO of LEGO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp took the approach of going back to the basics: the brick. And also he directed attention toward the organization's core group: the children. They started sending user researchers to observe families around the world. Through the research, they found out the way a toy fits a child's story. The organization had believed that the children wanted a "plug and play experience" where they could have a speedy success.

They asked an 11-year-old german boy what was his favorite possession. And to that, he pointed to his shoes which were worn out on the side and the bottom. He was asked why his shoes were important and special to him because it wasn't about the brand. It was special because his friends could tell that he had mastered a certain style of skateboarding and gained some skills.

The researchers understood that it wasn't about immediate gratification. It was the experience of mastery and learning skills. Designers started to make fewer specialized components. But still with the focus of making it slightly challenging so that the children could develop skills.

Jørgen Vig Knudstrop embodied what LEGO was all about. They were so clear on why they did things that they could get back on course. As an organization, they also embrace technology, but not for the technology's sake. Being clear on their roots, technology is just one of the ways they can live out their legacy.

Making products and services without context will make your business go fuzzy in the long run. You can be intentional in your decisions when you know in what context you're working in.

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