Context is everything

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TCR — What did you make of the football banner photo above? I took it last night at the Europa Cup Final in Hamburg.

I found it quite amusing when I saw it. Because I think it plays on all our worries about social inclusion and the language that we use.

What do you think it means?

Here’s the story: One of the teams that was playing in the European football event was my modest local Fulham Football Club (FFC, for short). In the fairly basic approach to nicknames that football teams often use, Fulham refer to themselves as the Whites. This is simply because their most common jersey is a white one. (Down the street my other local, Chelsea is called… the Blues.)

One of yesterday’s unsung stars is a midfielder called Dickson Etuhu. You can see him in many of the sad looking wire photos today. He’s a Nigerian. John Pantsil is from neighbouring Ghana. So there is a strong West African contingent in the Fulham team.

Do you get the banner now?

What does it say to those who don’t know the story? Something quite different, no doubt.

Context is what we call this. Explaining the back story. Examining what you know that others might not — and telling them.

In business we don’t do this enough. In health and safety it often costs lives. In broader business it can ruin reputations and cost lots of money.

Putting decisions, policies, news and results into context allows everyone a fair chance to understand how they came about.

Sometimes it’s hard to do. But that’s no excuse for not doing it.


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