Working out loud is a way to share work that might otherwise be missed By sharing this work you create new valuable interactions around that work.
You Can’t Take Your Cat to the Park
The internet loves cats. We share more photos of cats than dogs and even selfies. There have been attempts to explain cat photos as an projection of internet neuroses, for their cuteness, their lack of cuteness, or simply unexplainable.
Rick Wingfield has an elegant hypothesis based in human behaviour for why cats might feature so prominently in internet sharing. Dog owners get to take their pet on walks to the park. They get to interact and receive praise for their dog in a social context.
You can’t take a cat to the park. If you want interaction around your ownership of a cat, you have to share a photo or video. Other cat owners have the same need for interaction around their cats. Could this be the basis for our cat sharing passion? The hypothesis demands research but it also highlights a common challenge at work that is solved by working out loud.
Most of Your Work Isn’t Known to Others.
Working is more like owning a cat than owning a dog (& just as frustrating at times). Just as you can’t take a cat to the park, much of the work that you do is not known to those around you. This is a major cause of frustration in the performance management process and a cause of loss of employee engagement.
Other people may see some outputs and the few achievements that are celebrated by others. However, the majority of the work and the challenges each of us face are achieved quietly without fanfare or recognition. Like cat owners, the joy & frustrations of this work are a private experience.
Many people want more help, recognition and interaction around the work that they do. We crave the ability to connect with and learn from others doing similar work and facing similar challenges. However, most of the time there is no way for others to see the work that we do. That work never leaves the small circles in which we operate and the closed systems like emails and hard drives in which we share it.
Working Out Loud = Cat Pictures
Adopting working out loud as a practice enables others to engage us about our work.
Working out loud facilitates others to guide, help, praise, reuse and share our work. Working out loud also fosters a sense of community around work that encourages better value creation, better alignment and the development of communities of practice.
Don’t forget the sharing of your work can create value for others far from your work place. Enabling others to reuse, learn from or improve on your experience is an incredibly powerful outcome of the sharing from working out loud. What seemed to you a small piece of work can create value widely. You may even discover your work is more valuable than you or your boss ever realised. As John Stepper has pointed out, working out loud can add a new dimension to your next performance conversation.
You can’t take a cat for a walk. However, you can share your daily work and start new sharing & interaction around that work. You will be surprised by the rewards.