Tim Longhurst's Blog

The importance of understanding your context

November 20th, 2006 · No Comments

ic09Want to achieve something worthwhile? Know where you are now (your context) and know where you want to be (have a vision).

My involvement in the field of foresight has led me to a conclusion: people feel most comfortable articulating their vision for the world if they feel they understand the current context.

For example, I attended the Gosford 2025 visioning program hosted by Gosford City Council. It was all about getting the current residents of Gosford to discuss and articulate their vision for Gosford in 20 years time. People felt most comfortable contributing to that conversation when they had access to historic and current data on which to base their vision. They wanted to understand the context first.

Armed with a desire to explore the concept of ‘context’ and access to Google, I discovered an organisation based on the West Coast of the USA named the Context Institute. Founded by Robert and Diane Gilman in 1979, the Institute published 44 editions of its magazine, In Context. While the last magazine was published ten years ago in 1996, a cursory click of the back-issues revealed some insightful (whilst understandably dated) reading.

It seems that The Context Institute is now a ‘virtual organisation’, with the website’s content not significantly updated in the past 5 years. I’m guessing that’s because Robert Gilman now has new projects to work on. Reading about him on the site, I’d be interested in talking with him for a podcast – I’ll update the blog if he agrees.

A little cyber-sluething reveals that the cessation of In Context magazine gave rise to Yes! Magazine, which, with its own vision and editorial team has grown from strength to strength in the past decade.

MORE: the Context Institute, Yes! Magazine

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Category: Our living planet

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