Simon Terry

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The Practitioner Benefits of Working Out Loud

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Convincing an employee to take on the new practice of working out loud depends on being able to make a credible case for their personal benefits. Working Out Loud sounds new, different and risky at first.

Preconditions: Culture

Amy Edmondsen has done extensive research on team collaboration and demonstrated that a key component of participation in collaboration in teams is a sense of psychological safety for individuals. People need to feel it is safe to take interpersonal risk to learn, collaborate and experiment together. It is challenging asking people to Work Out Loud if the leadership, performance or other aspects of the culture make that personally difficult or disadvantageous.

One of the reasons that the Value Maturity Model above works to build collaboration and working out loud up from connection and sharing is that it is a way to build trust and develop the culture of collaboration from safer foundations. Focusing sharing and solving around work needs and goals through working out loud can make it easier to change the culture leveraging work needs and key strategic priorities.

Working Out Loud can contribute to changing an unsafe culture, but that will take the work of Change Agents to role model the way and to run the risks of pushback. The kind of Change Agent who will take on a harsh culture to drive change is rarer than we would like.

The Practitioner’s Hard Benefits

A lot has been written about the human benefits of working out loud. Deeper connection to others, richer learning, personal purpose and fulfilment, the personal rewards of generosity and collaboration are all real and lasting benefits of working out loud. However, business is business and some users are looking for ‘hard’ financial benefits as their sole focus for change. The more demanding and siloed the performance environment, the more likely you will need to build your story on financial returns.

There are few sectors more focused on hard measurement of value than financial services. When I worked in banking we used to say there were four things you could do to create value for a customer. Our customer propositions were focused on the bank’s ability to:

  • save time,
  • save money,
  • enable people to make money, or
  • protect money or other assets (from risk)’.

A variant of these four holds for the personal financial benefits of working out loud to a practitioner:

  • Save time: avoid search, avoid learning time, avoid wasted work & prevent duplicate work
  • Save money: prevent duplicate work, improve alignment, avoid coordination costs, avoid expensive learning, avoid errors & rework, improve personal productivity & effectiveness
  • Make money: better align to needs, leverage diversity of ideas and solutions, leverage broad contributions & agility of teams, reuse intellectual property, make experience a transferable product
  • Protect: benefit from experience & learning of others, manage experiments easily, reduce risks, improve quality, etc

Each practitioner’s potential benefit equation will be unique. Work with their needs and circumstances to identify a suite of hard and soft benefits that engages their attention and provides an incentive for them to start the journey of working out loud.


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