Context Before Content
About Context Before Content
Definition: Connecting the purpose of why people are meeting; to connect people to each other; to create a choice for authenticity and vulnerability by asking a question. Your question or activity must accomplish these three things:
Connect people to the purpose of why they’re there
Connect people to each other because without relatedness, no work can occur.
Create space for authenticity and vulnerability
Value: When people understand the purpose of the meeting the result is improved engagement from participants. Relationships created through the connection boosts performance on cognitive tasks.
Select the title above to watch Chad Littlefield discuss Context Before Content with WSU Tech faculty (1 hour 40 minutes). If you are asked to sign in to view the video, use your WSU Tech credentials.
Examples and Resources
Video Summary: Will Wise (Co-Founder & Chief Weologist) talks about the importance of connection before content. Connection before content is a concept coined by Peter Block, an American author, consultant, and speaker in the areas of organization development, community building, and civic engagement.
Video Summary: Chad briefly showcases how to create an experience that breaks the norm of meeting virtually. He uses the We Engage cards for building connection by increasing the presence of psychological safety (improve student comfort).
Activity: Asking Powerful Questions
Engaging Activity Summary: Ask audience to form groups of three or four, give them a powerful question to discuss/answer. The open-ended question is a vehicle for making connection among the group with goal is to keep the question connected to the purpose, such as "What are you aiming to achieve at work and what about that is important?" (A powerful question makes them think about what is going on in their world.)
Activity: Making Something Invisible, Visible
Engaging Activity Summary: Participants select an image, engagement cards, or prop representing an abstract topic/idea, such as psychological safety. This connects a "concrete" object to an inanimate idea. Have participants pop-corn out how their image relates to the idea/topic. Use this activity in a face-to-face or virtual class meeting.