Monday, 20 August 2012

Put it in Context

Bring me a dead cat and all I can tell you is that it was a cat and it is now dead.  Bring me a dead cat and tell me you found it in the middle of the road, what killed it? A car? heat exhaustion? 
What are we talking about?
Context!   -   The difference between road kill and a meal.
Context is critical for people to make up their minds and make decisions.
Recently I did some work with a public sector organisation who wanted to outsource their FM services.  Together we did some work to quantify the savings and the service improvements that would be guaranteed by a service provider.  The client needed to get the project approved by their board made up of people who didn’t know much about FM and elected members who represent the public. 

 “We will save £500,000 by doing this outsourcing”.  Is that good or bad? We don’t know until we attach some context to it.  A £ number is just that – a number – it has no meaning without putting it in context. 
“We will save 0.5% of the organisations budget”.  That doesn’t sound very good. 
“We will save 15% of our current expenditure”.  That sounds good! 

This means something internally but for a public sector organisation who is accountable to the public it may mean little.
“We will be able to employ an additional 20 front line jobs to support the community”.  That sounds great! 

Jobs put the sheer quantity of iphones
sold in to context for the audience

The presentation we put together had 3 numbers on it…

“By outsourcing, we will save £500,000 (15% of our budget) which is the same as employing an additional 20 people in front line jobs in the community”
The board now understood the importance of doing the outsourcing both for the organisation and the people they provide services to.  Needless to say the questions were not “Why should we do this?” but “How soon can it be done?”

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