Working out loud is key practice to move beyond the theory of work. Working out loud helps solve the obstacles of work, tests ideas and creates interactions to keep work grounded in reality.
The most theoretical conversation in the modern workplace is often when a stakeholder says ‘I agree’. What they are actually saying is ‘I agree in principle to your approach given our common theoretical understanding of what you are doing, the absence of obvious obstacles and my limited understanding of the context’. Agreement like that falls apart when practice diverges from theory, obstacles occur or when more context surfaces.
The theory of work diverging from practice impacts more than stakeholder conversations. It is at the heart of breakdowns of many customer experiences, work processes and policies, incentive schemes, restructures, change initiatives and many other domains. In each case as the theory leaves the design table it meets obstacles, exceptions and other challenges in practice.
Some organisations try to eliminate these issues with a stricter adherence to theory. Instead, the defining practice of an effective modern organisation is how it accepts theory’s limitations and focuses on learning the lessons of real practice. Big learning practices take advantage of the organisations ability to learn through each employee’s work and adapt to break the boxes of the theory. Knowing obstacles are the work, organisations plan to learn and adapt. These organisations never get stuck in theory because it is always subject to improvement in a live test.
Working out loud plays a key role in these responsive organisations bridging the gaps between theory and practice. Working out loud puts ideas out for early tests, surfaces obstacles and shares context widely. A stakeholder who says I agree in a process of working out loud has a surer foundation and a better expectation of what is ahead.
Judge the success of your work in practice. Allow for learning and adaptation. Use working out loud to strengthen the culture of learning in your organisation.