Working Out Loud is a key practice for learning in networks. Working Out loud creates value by surfacing opportunities to collaborate and to exchange information around work. Sharing work creates value for both the person sharing their work and others who observe. However, it can be a challenge to convince someone upfront that the value exists.
What is Working Out Loud?
Bryce Willams initially proposed the concept of Working Out Loud as:
Narrating Your Work + Observable Work
The concept has been developed by a number of others, particularly John Stepper, and there are many related concepts, such as Jane Bozarth’s Show Your Work. With the increased transparency, access and visibility of networks in the digital era, working out loud is a much easier and much more productive practice. Working out loud enables others to see, understand and contribute to your work. That delivers benefits for both workers and observers and can play a critical role in shortening the time cycles of feedback, learning and collaboration.
You Can’t Predict the Value of Working Out Loud
Many people are reluctant to share their work for fear of negative feedback or fear of others’ perceptions. People look to overcome their uncertainty by clarifying the benefits.
However the benefits of working out loud are as unique as the approaches of each individual and the diversity of their networks. Like many forms of social collaboration, there aren’t guaranteed outcomes in terms of benefits and the benefits are tailored to an individual’s situation and needs. Importantly benefits can flow far from the individual who is working out loud. This latter point is important in corporate context’s where working out loud can play a key role in improving alignment, reducing duplication and facilitating learning on the job.
I have learned to work out loud in a number of ways. My blog is an ongoing meditation on lessons from my work. I leverage twitter, public and private groups and social streams to share work in progress with others and get feedback. As someone who is relatively new to working out loud I have found that the benefits of working out loud are always a surprise and exceedingly diverse:
- Making new connections with people doing similar or potentially related work around the world
- Developing new knowledge using lean start up approaches to the demand and with the input of clients
- Receiving feedback, ideas and other input into my work from many diverse sources that helps me better understand how it needs to develop and where it will have best impact.
- Drawing of innovative connections between streams of work that I had not yet seen
- Feedback from others on their leverage of my work in their own learning and the value that they create.
- An enhanced understanding of my own strengths and the potential of my networks
- Business & collaboration opportunities driven from people coming to understand and value my work.
Working Out Loud Requires Experimentation
The form of working out loud will differ for each individual depending on their work, their comfort in sharing, their expertise in social tools and their network. There are few formulas that can be prescribed that are generally applicable.
The best advice for an individual seeking to benefit from working out loud is to experiment with what works for them. A process of adaptation and experimentation will help each individual to develop a set of practices which enables them to be most productive.
If you are looking for a place to start, start by trying to form a new habit and adapt your practice to what suits you and delivers you & your network the best benefits. Consider forming a working out loud circle to help accelerate & share your learning with others. Look out for the next International Working Out Loud Week, a great opportunity to develop your practice of working out loud in the company of a network of global peers.