Just Start: Working Out Loud in #WOLWEEK

What are you going to do today to share your work in progress in a purposeful way?


It is never too late to take advantage of International Working Out Loud week (7-13 November 2016).  All you need to do is start sharing your work purposefully.

The week before Working Out Loud week is always a busy one.  The most common topic of conversation is “is it too late to do something ?”  My answer is always the same “No, let’s do it.”  The theme this Wolweek is “Working and Sharing Purposefully”. That applies to how we promote working out loud during the week too.

People often want to overthink and overplan working out loud. They want to do it exactly right. They want to know they are doing it in the authorised way.  They want to know exactly what will happen when they share their work before they do so. They want to know what method of starting working out loud in their organisation will work best for…

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#WOLWeek: 7 Days of Working Out Loud

7 Days worth of practice of working out loud for the upcoming #wolweek


As International Working Out Loud Week approaches on 7-13 November 2016, many people want to experiment with working out loud in their networks and their organisations. Here’s how to use the 7 days of International Working Out Loud Week underway and to set up your working out loud practice ongoing.


We know new practices are best learned through experience and consistency of practice.  Using a practice consistently is the way to iron out the kinks, to learn what works for you and to build new habits.

Here are seven days’ worth of actions to get you started on working out loud during working out loud week.

Day 1: Share a Purpose

Choose some purpose that is important to you to make the focus of your #wolweek efforts. This purpose may be delivering a great outcome in a project for a group of stakeholders or it could be a personal ambition…

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This International Working Out Loud Week we will be sharing a reflection on a different element of working out loud each day.  We will be using John Stepper’s latest iteration of the five elements of Working Out Loud as a guide to those reflections. Our fifth reflection is on Growth Mindset.


We can be better.

Our talents are not fixed. Through effort, stretch and learning we can improve our abilities. We work every day to be better at what we do, to better fulfil our purpose and our potential.

If our talents are not perfect, that is because they never can be. There are no limits on our ability that work will not release. If our work is not perfect that too is because there is always more, always another better way to attempt. The way we do our work is but one of millions of paths to our goals. If our purpose or potential is never completely fulfilled, then that is because we strive for more. We want to make a bigger difference.

The value of working out loud is to help us see that everyone’s work is not perfect as it develops. We understand the edits, the changes, the false starts and the dead ends that lead to success. We stop comparing other people’s showreels to our own cutting room floor. We realise that embarrassment, failures and setbacks are temporary but abandonment of our purpose is final.

Working out loud brings us together with others who want to grow and to learn.  We come together with others who want to improve their work and achieve their purpose in better ways. We are encouraged, challenged and supported to take on the daily work of getting better. Supported by a global community pursuing better work and a better life, we work together to grow.

We can be better. Together.

International Working Out Loud Week is from 6-12 June 2016


This International Working Out Loud Week we will be sharing a reflection on a different element of working out loud each day.  We will be using John Stepper’s latest iteration of the five elements of Working Out Loud as a guide to those reflections. Our fourth reflection is on Generosity.


Generosity is not new. We know how to give. Human beings are highly sophisticated animals at the fine arts of altruism, collaboration and generosity. Giving generously is what our societies do best.

In our work cultures, we some times lose the generosity of spirit that underpins humanity.  Our focus on performance, on efficiency and on competition, can make generosity seem counterproductive, suspect and weak. Yet elite performance and ultimate effectiveness depend on high levels of trust. We build trust when we move beyond our own agendas. We build trust when we start to give something of us to others.

Working out loud helps us to see that our gifts can be many. We can give as simply as giving our attention to another, to truly listen to their needs or their story.  We can give by recognising another and celebrating their progress in their work. We can give by providing material help, information or even just a sense of direction to someone. We can give by creating a sense of shared community in a task or a challenge and allowing others to use our networks to achieve their ends. Everyone of us can give the gift of reaching down and helping someone else up over the work we have completed to where we stand now. When we share our work visibly with a generous spirit we discover others can learn from our work and others yet may reciprocate our generosity with help, support and guidance.

Generosity is the social magic that triggers the wonderful synchronicity of working out loud. Our generous gifts inspires others, some far from our networks, to respond to our visible work. We cannot know what, when or if we will get something back in return for our generosity in working out loud. Working out loud is not a transactional exchange. Working our loud is an investment in our relationships and our networks. We invest for the future and for others. Be generous in those relationships.

The purpose of our work is to benefit others. Give a gift

International Working Out Loud Week is 6-12 June 2016


This International Working Out Loud Week we will be sharing a reflection on a different element of working out loud each day.  We will be using John Stepper’s latest iteration of the five elements of Working Out Loud as a guide to those reflections. Our third reflection is on Visible Work.


All our work is visible to others to some extent unless we actively seek to hide it. What the visible work element of working out loud asks us to do is to consider how we can make our work more visible to those who can benefit and those who can help.

This is not about completed work.  That would be visible outcomes. The element of visible work is making work more visible to others and narrating that work in ways that enable other people to learn and to help. You may not value your work and your work process but making that work more visible to the right people might help you to understand how they value your work and how they can help you make your work more valuable.

Visible does not necessarily mean public. The audience who can see your work might be small and focused.  Visible does not necessarily mean insistently distracting. Visibility is the beginning of findability.  You may want to simply make your work visible where it may be found later by someone like you working on a similar problem.

Visible work is a far wider trend than working out loud in the future of work. We see visible work in Visual Management Boards, Kanban, Trello, dashboards and other tools of visual management. We see visible work in agile projects, in design thinking exercises, in ideation exercises and other environments where people need to coordinate work into one vision. The post-it note is the byte of visual work in these contexts. Visible work underpins our activity based workspaces, our collaboration solutions and many more management systems and practices. Rather than simply let the process or environment make your work visible, take control of your work and shape its visibility to help yourself and others.

Think for a minute about your invisible work – the efforts you put in, the anonymous giving, the work that gets folded into other work or slides off the end of the desk or meeting table. How rare is it that there is joy or even satisfaction in the invisible work? Most of it goes to waste. All of it is neglected. Visibility of work is a step to a better life and a better career. Start sharing your work as it happens.

International Working Out Loud Week is from 6-12 June 2016


This International Working Out Loud Week we will be sharing a reflection on a different element of working out loud each day.  We will be using John Stepper’s latest iteration of the five elements of Working Out Loud as a guide to those reflections. Our second reflection is on Networks.


We have always had other people involved in our work. We have always had colleagues, managers, partners, suppliers, customers, regulators and the broader community with an interest in what we do and how we do it. Every day as we do our work without even calling it networking we manage a complex series of relationships to get our work done. We don’t need to go looking for networks. We already have them.

With global connection through digital networks, our ability to see and connect to the networks of people around our work is now greater than ever. With greater connection comes greater demands for transparency, accountability and engagement. With greater connection comes greater opportunities for new information and for learning. Even if we wanted to do our work on a remote island, we would struggle to escape connection to these networks and their demands.

Working Out Loud challenges us to think of the role these networks play in our work and the role that we play in our networks. Working out loud doesn’t add any complexity to the work or to the networks.  That complexity is already there. Working out loud asks us some key questions: Who would benefit from greater visibility to our work? From whom can we benefit if they knew more about our work and our challenges? Working out loud does not demand that we engage the whole world all day. Working Out Loud asks that we share with those in our networks for whom our work matters in a meaningful way.

People who do not participate in networks are treated by the network like a blockage. They lose influence as the network routes around them seeking to engage in the necessary interactions. The value of Working Out Loud is it asks us to consider what role we should play in our networks and how we can better use our networks in our work. That is a critical element for anyone in the future of work.

International Working Out Loud Week is from 6-12 June 2016


This International Working Out Loud Week we will be sharing a reflection on a different element of working out loud each day.  We will be using John Stepper’s latest iteration of the five elements of Working Out Loud as a guide to those reflections.

We start with Purpose. Purposefulness in working out loud helps unify all the other elements of working out loud: the mindfulness of networks, the visible sharing, the generosity and the growth mindset.


We work for a purpose. We work to have some impact on others. We work to make ourselves and our world a better place. That purpose should be at the heart of our working out loud too.

Working out loud should be directed to some end.  Working out loud cannot be a random broadcast of activity. We share our work visibly and narrate our work so that others can benefit, whether through a greater understanding of our work, through opportunities to collaborate or have input or through learning about the process we take when we work. Our purpose inspires us to use whatever practices will help us have greater effect.

Purpose should shape the networks and communities with whom we share our work. Our purpose reflects a desire to use our skills, networks and capabilities to help others.  With whom we work out loud should be shaped by these same people.  We should work out loud to benefit from and benefit those best placed to engage with our purpose.

Generosity is inherent in purpose. Purpose leads outside the building of our work, outside our own narrow concerns and encourages us to reflect on how our work can give to the world.  This generous mindset helps us assuage the common self-centred fears of sharing our work as it happens – fear of loss, fear of embarrassment and fear of unfairness.

Purpose also sustains us in our growth mindset.  There are obstacles in any work. There are many obstacles in adopting a practice of working out loud. There is also no one right universal way of working out loud that will suit every person, situation and purpose. We embrace all the practices and approaches that have been created to foster purposeful sharing of work because any practice may be of benefit to someone. There are many schools of working out loud.  People may be inspired by the ideas and practices of Bryce Williams, John Stepper, Jane Bozarth, Harold Jarche, Sahana Chattopadhyay, Helen Blunden, Dennis Pearce, Jonathan Anthony, Catherine Shinners, Ayelet Baron, Lesley Crook, Isabel De Clercq, Bert Vries,  Simon Terry and many more. Focusing on how we can learn together, how we can help each other to achieve more and how we can move beyond the setbacks is important to taking our work and this new practice to the world.

Purpose is the reason at the heart of our work, our life and our careers. As we seek to use working out loud ‘for a better life and career’ we must be guided by purpose in our practice.

International Working Out Loud Week runs from 6-12 June 2016.

What goes wrong with #wol: #wolweek

A short handy guide to (almost) everything that can go wrong when working out loud

People ignore you: the most common experience. You feel like a madman shouting in a busy street. Actually everyone else is just so busy they don’t notice. Keep going. Also try working out loud in smaller, more connected communities. 

People don’t get it: old habits die hard. Another person’s lack of understanding is no barrier to you. Keep practising and keep explaining. They will see the benefits eventually. 

People think you are bragging: make sure you are sharing work that is still in progress and sharing the good and bad. Otherwise keep going. 

People think you are too noisy: Noise is personal. Help those people to see how they can manage noise. Be reasonable with your own sharing. 

People think you are indiscreet: often a perception that passes as people come to know you better. Build relationships. Making sure you are sharing about work helps. Keep going. 

People think you are pushy: separate perceptions and reality. You can’t force others to work out loud with you. You can’t expect others to help you if you don’t help in reply. 

People think you are selfish: Celebrate others and recognise their help. No work is all about you. 

People think you have too much time on your hands: let people know how much you have on. Help them to understand how easy it is to share work when you don’t have to dress it up. Show them how much time you save. 

People think you are ignorant or incompetent: they might think that anyway. Better to show them your passion to learn and get help. 

People think you are different, divergent, a trouble maker or a rebel: you are. Deal with it.

People tell you that you shouldn’t need to work out loud because of the process, the training, the manual, the system or other support: trust your judgement. Sometimes this helps you find the answer you need.

People think you are lazy: just keep showing the work you are doing. 

People tell you they are already doing it: people may well be sharing their work in their own way. Help others to understand your practice. Let them work their own way. 
People tell you it is a waste of time: discuss the benefits you get. However don’t feel the need to convert everyone. Know the value to you.  

People ask ‘but what’s in it for me?’: explain the benefits. 

People tell you that you are not doing it right: Ignore the experts. 

People tell you that you aren’t expert enough: Ignore the experts. You work out loud to learn. 

Corporate affairs, legal or HR get upset: hmm, hopefully you’ve followed policy to the extent that is possible. Make sure you are clear on the reasons why you are working out loud. 

You violate national security laws, anti-competitive protection, intellectual property, espionage laws, conflict of interests or otherwise commit a crime:  don’t do this again. Probably wise that you paid attention in your compliance training. 

You make a mistake: it happens. Be honest. Move on. 

You misspell a word, have an autocorrect issue, bad grammar, bad audio or video or people can’t otherwise understand you: see You make a mistake.

You embarrass someone else: some times working out loud draws in other private people. Take care of their feelings and check first.

Your boss tells you to stop: are they right? If yes, stop. If no, continue in a different way. If your boss is really wrong, do you need another job?

Your family think you spend too much time doing it: probably worth listening to them.  Working out loud is about work. You don’t want work intruding everywhere. 

All the issues are survivable. Keep going
Keep learning.

If you have more suggestions, please add them in the comments. 

Bet on Change #wolweek

Change is work. It is not a game of trumps played with opinions. If there’s debate, even more reason to seek to make change and see what happens.

Those trying to stop your change will tell you the job has been done, can’t be done & isn’t worth doing. They can’t be all right, so maybe they are all wrong. You won’t know the answer if you don’t try to make change happen.

People will demand clarity. Others will say you need to be less prescriptive. People will say you are too narrow and too broad. People will say you need to name your change. Others will call your change a fad or dismiss it as mere marketing. The diversity of human opinions challenges all change.

Change agents need to recognise these views for what they are, opinions. Those opinions need to sit alongside your opinion that change is required. Many of these opinion leaders will want to engage you in a long debate at to the absence of merits of your plans. Sadly debates based on opinions are rarely productive.

Remember momentum is your friend in creating change. Action solves the issues of debates. The obstacles are the work and will be overcome as you adapt and experiment forward. Clarity can be refined as you work forward. Value will either be proved or fail. Action helps you recruit more change agents.

For all the people saying there was no need for International Working Out Loud week, there was a far larger group engaging for the first time and learning how to make it valuable. For all the debate about different views of the future of learning and development last week, there was still a need for people to back their views on how to make learning more effective and engaging which won’t happen on a blog or social stream.

Debates are fine. You can learn in a debate when they compare facts and experiences. When debates are just an exchange of opinions, it is far better to move forward, test your opinion and help everyone learn through action.