Thank you to Steve Holt for the term ‘comparative context’ and Jay Johnson also for the twitter conversation that got me thinking about the difference between numbers and descriptive words when we are setting goals.
‘I want to stand close enough to an apple tree that I can smell the apples’ – in this case numbers are almost irrelevant because the words ‘close enough’ provide comparative context.
- The apples must be ripe enough to smell – so it must be the right season
- I must not have a bad cold – otherwise I will not smell anything
- If it is raining, we will need cover, such as an umbrella
Imagine trying to describe this using numbers – we would need a lot more than this list.
- Distance = 10cm
- Rhino-virus level less than x%
- Humidity less than 80%
When we set goals, we often use a lot of numbers – perhaps we are trying to provide sufficient context. It is worth considering using descriptive words instead – a few words can provide a huge amount of meaning.
Jay Johnson has posted his thoughts inspired by the conversation – Near, Far and Full Context