Simon Terry

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The Asymmetrical Advantage of Working Out Loud

Working out loud enables others to better understand you and your work. That can be an advantage if it allows you to focus on them.

Working out loud is not close to common. The practice is growing as more people realise the benefits of purposefully sharing their work in progress. However, it a passionate but small community who consistently practice working out loud.

As someone who works out loud a lot, I have seen a particular advantage in the asymmetry of working out loud practice. People I meet often know a lot about what I do. That enables our interaction to focus more on what they do.

There are a number of advantages in my working having been exposed first:

  • Pull over Push: In discussion people will bring up the ideas and work that I have done that they want to discuss. They pull me towards more effective conversation without the hard work of pitching and digging. People choose to interact based on what they already know of my work. That is a better and more useful choice.
  • Trust comes with understanding: the more someone has followed my work the better they are likely to understand my approach and who I am. That provides a sure foundation for our interaction and helps ensure that there are fewer misunderstandings. Ultimately, if they chose to interact on the basis of that knowledge I can be surer that we are likely to have a productive conversation based in deeper trust.
  • Less Talk & More Listening: The less I have to talk to explain myself in an interaction the more I can listen. Listening to another person is a great way to build understanding and connection but our desire to get out the story of our work can get in the way. We all love to be heard.  People enjoy a conversation that is mostly about their work, needs and challenges.
  • More work solving problems: The less time I have to spend on pitching and explaining my work the more time we can spend discussing solutions to problems. Being able to reference already shared work saves time too. Having another person in the conversation who is familiar with your thoughts and approaches can mean both of you can collaborate to solve ideas together.

3 Comments

  1. Michelle Ockers says:

    These are great reasons to work out loud consistently Simon, regardless of whether it is others inside an organisation, potential clients if you consult externally, or people in your network that you are engaging with. I recall getting to know the work of Helen Blunden well through her blogging such that when I needed to find someone to help with a social learning program I knew how she would approach this work before I talked to her. Thanks for the nudge to get more consistent with my working out loud, especially blogging.

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing that – can fully support your experience- I wrote about it 2015, when I had not read the great book of John: http://www.harald-schirmer.de/2015/05/06/working-out-loud-in-practice/ today, we are promoting #WOL in our company as one of the best ways to #goDigital

  3. Great points, Simon. Many years ago I used to worry about the “uselessness” of my reading so many books (and book reviews) as I did not necessarily apply the lessons or skills from them diligently. I used to mention about my reading habit to many people. This gradually led to many people seeking out reading recommendations and also sharing with me whenever they read an interesting book. This obviously increased the range of books I could stay informed about and be more helpful when others asked. I also noticed that unlike the gossip/small talk that people often indulge in, when they interacted with me, they would quickly move to a more knowledge-sharing mode of conversation. Your first and fourth points reminded me of this, which I have never framed as an instance of WOL. Thanks.

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