Ben Kutil

Context disconnects

There’s the old maxim, “Context is king“. It struck me that how teams navigate context changes over time. I think there’s a gravity that pulls teams towards a high context culture.

As a team first forms, there’s intentional effort to communicate in a low context manner. These low context conversations use explicit details, include relevant information in the communication, and are easier for new people to enter.

As a team works together, they can shortcut communication by relying on their shared understanding of the domain. These high context conversations uses implicit details, assumes a common understanding, and is difficult to enter without the status and history of those communicating.

A simple example that I experience almost every day: acronyms. A team may intentionally start by expanding all acronyms. Over time, that practice fades away, or new acronyms get created. bonding. A shared language that only people on the team know! It’s a form of team bonding or in-culture.

To combat this issue, people could look to APIs. API's structure communication into and out of a system. They represent a great model for low context communication. They have a defined structure, define explicit detail, and even include relevant information (JSON-LD).

For people setting up or leading teams, consider the "low context" APIs you’d develop that will bring information in and out of a team. Much like system APIs, it’ll increase the use and usefulness of the team.