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Is Context More Important than Content?

Context: the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place

Content: the amount of something contained in something else

Most of what we hear about today is the content of business—how things are done, what things should be done when and prioritizing the doingness of business. It's also where most business owners spend most of their time.

I'm more interested in the CONTEXT of business. It's not that content isn't important or interesting—it is. But I don't think the context—the framework and parameters of a business—gets the attention it deserves.

Context shapes the content. If you have a bowl (the context), you can put almost anything in it (the content). You can pour water, corn flakes, bourbon or diamonds into it, and it will take on the shape of the bowl.

But without the context, the contents have no shape. They have no place to be.

An organization is like that, too. The structure of the business—the boundaries, rules, values, vision and mission all help to form the context. They create integrity.

Business contents change and evolve. But the right framework can last for centuries. Principles don't change, but management practices and even the kind of business conducted does change.

I've been studying successful people and successful companies for over 30 years. I was determined to learn the principles that shape and mold a world class company. It doesn't matter whether you're manufacturing flat irons, running a restaurant, managing a municipality or operating a dry cleaning business—the Ten Pillars of a World Class Business work in any business.

If all of your attention is directed at the busyness of business—which is what most people do—then the value of what you do and the longevity of your business can easily be lost.

Action Point
Invest the time to create a better context for your business—one that will allow you to have an enterprise with staying power—one that can endure a 100 years or more. Learn the principles that work. Put forth the energy to build the foundation and structure that will increase the value of the service and/or products you produce.

With the right context, you will more easily stay in business, accomplish your purpose, increase profits and stand out in your industry.

Additional Resources:
New assessment tool, free (newly updated) 10 Pillars report and a brand new teleconference are now available at

Discover, understand and live Your Core Values at

By Michael Angier







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Last Updated 10/14/2005