Contextual Inspiration

Simply put Contextual Inspiration is being physically and/or digitally present in location that is meaningful for the "problem" you are trying to resolve.

Getting contextual inspiration is simple, but that doesn't mean it is easy. Why do I say that? Because you have to put in the effort to be where your problem is happening. Being present gives you context and awareness that may be overlooked or ignored when interviewing people or processing large amounts of research.

So, if you are launching a new food product, spend time walking up and down in the grocery store to look at product packaging and product placement. Next, spend time talking to people shopping and ask about their decision making process or how they navigate their typical store visit. However, you need to slow down and just take time to observe people. Watch and see how much you learn.

At some point you'll need to process what you've absorbed. Perhaps you took notes while "on location". Maybe you need to watch and comb over video you captured. You can string up an array of pictures that represent a time-lapse or a specific process.

Whatever you do, tie context from the location back to the issue you are trying to process and resolve.

I'm not suggesting that conducting surveys isn't helpful. I'm also not saying to ignore a standard researching process. What I am saying is that you'll be exposed to a rich level of detail by putting yourself into that specific setting. By assaulting your senses with new information you'll more tightly tie those experiences back to your goal. Once you make goal achievement personal is when you'll see things that others miss.

I liken this process to reading the Cliff Notes instead of reading the entire book. Sure you'll get some of the main points and be able to have low level conversations, but you'll be totally out of your element when getting down into the details. Set yourself up for success.

The next time you start a project or go about launching a business, make time to take part in some Contextual Inspiration. Once you've tried it you always make room for experiencing it. Hesitant to try it? Shoot me your questions. Is this something you already do? Tell me how it's working for you. How does it fit into your process?

This article was previously posted on Jef's Medium blog.