Guest Author

Laura Sampath, National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)

“Stand up and pair up!”, Xcelerator  instructor James Barlow commanded as he kicked off Day 3 of the Xcelerator Training Program for Saving Lives at Birth Grantees. Beginning with a morning wake-up exercise, James set the stage for a deep dive into context analysis and strategy mapping. These are just a few of the tools teams learn to effectively measure risks, test assumptions, secure resources, and build relationships with the individuals and institutions that will be the recipients of their innovations.

Context analysis is a method to analyze the environment in which innovations must be utilized by users and start-up efforts must operate.  According to instructor Sara Farley, context analysis asks the teams to consider that “the way it is here, where I live and create my product may not be the way it is where [country, city or rural village] I hope to scale my innovation.”

As Day 3 of Xcelerator progressed, teams fanned out across the workspace creating strategy maps of green, blue, orange, and magenta post-it notes that quickly formed brightly patterned mosaics from floor to ceiling.  Using orange post-its for people; blue for activities; green for resources; and magenta for products – the teams mapped out the steps to convert the innovator’s enthusiasm into genuine momentum to create change.

This blog has been cross-posted from the Saving Lives at Birth website. Follow the Saving Lives at Birth blog at