7 Tips to Working Out Loud in Your Organisation #wol

Here are a seven simple tips to help those who want to encourage the use of working out loud in an organisation

1 Start with why

Working out loud is a change in work practices for your team. People will find it embarrassing, scary and strange. If you want change, you will need to help people to see the rationale. Explain the benefits you hope to see. Connect working out loud to your strategy. Measure and share the successes.

2 Start where your community is

If your organisation talks about work in the tearoom, don’t try to make them work out loud in a brand new technology. You will spend all your energies on the change of technology, before you get to the practices that create value. Put up a poster in the tearoom. Go where your communities currently engage and work there. If you have an enterprise social network all the better, engage its champions and heavy users.

3 Find volunteers

You promised engagement in the social network by December. If you make everyone work out loud, you will get there. Don’t. Forcing people to share defeats the generosity, the learning and the community from working out loud. It increases the chance they will try once and abandon the practice as alien. If I know you are working out loud only to meet an order, I don’t trust you more.  John Stepper starts with career talks to find volunteers for working out loud circles. Start with your volunteers and find champions. Remember you are the first volunteer and should role model the way.

4 Simple Practices

Three simple habits. Working Out Loud Circles. Huddles. Posters with questions. Post-it notes on office doors. Town Halls. Sharing photos of work. Don’t overthink it or over-specify it. Authorised use cases can get in the way of serendipity. There are lots of simple options to help people start and see the benefit.

5 Connect networks

Working out loud circles work because people enjoy the peer support as they learn new practices. How can networks in your organisation reinforce the efforts of your few initial practitioners? Make them role models in your networks to find more volunteers. Go outside the organisation and bring in people to help. The working out loud community are a generous bunch.

6 Have Fun

What’s your version of Working out loud under the stairs.  Take the stress out of the new and different by making it fun.

7 Take time

You won’t get 100% of your people doing anything any time soon. You may never. Take the time it needs for people to learn by doing and to convince each other with their success. Networks will spread success over time.

Guest Post: The Dizziness of Freedom by Diana Renner

Diana Renner and I were discussing working out loud this week when Diana mentioned that she had an unpublished blog post in development that I recognised as the feeling of the ‘trembling finger’ when I am about to work out loud. This guest post is a result of that conversation. It is too good not to be widely shared.

The Dizziness of Freedom

“…creating, actualising one’s
possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always
involves destroying the status quo, destroying all patterns with oneself,
progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating
new and original forms and ways of living

Rollo May

 It has been almost two years since I stepped
into the unknown and became an independent consultant. Looking back, it feels
less like a step and more like a leap. In a single gesture of defiance, I
traded security for freedom, leaving behind a relatively comfortable,
predictable role in a large organisation. I had never expected to end up
working on my own. But the promise of freedom was alluring. It still is. At the
same time freedom opens up possibilities that are terrifying.

In his book The Concept of Anxiety,
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard explores
the immense feelings of dread that accompany that moment when we find ourselves
at a crossroads in life. The moment when the choice to do something hangs in
perfect balance with the choice to do nothing. Kierkegaard uses the example of
a man standing on the edge of a tall building or cliff, from where he can see
all the possibilities of life. As he looks over the edge, he experiences both a
fear of falling and at the same time a terrifying impulse to throw himself
intentionally off the edge.

Every edge I have stood on has provoked
feelings of dread and excitement. Whether going into a first meeting with a new
client, writing a few pages in my book, or facing a bored and unmotivated
group, I have struggled with what Kierkegaard calls our dizziness of freedom.
Just like Kierkegaard’s protagonist,
staring into the space below, I have contemplated many times whether to throw
myself off or to stay put.

However, what seemed risky and largely unknown
two years ago rapidly has become part of a familiar landscape. It would be
natural to relax and enjoy the view… Yet I have
learned that it is at this very point that I need to become more vigilant than
ever and exercise my freedom to choose in three key ways:

  • To rally against the safe but numbing comfort of the status
    . I need to keep reminding myself that the
    greatest learning is just outside of my comfort zone. I need to keep stretching
    myself to keep growing.
  • To resist the strong
    pull of the crowd
    . I have found perspective on the
    margins, not looking to the outside for approval or acceptance, not following a
    trend just because everyone else is following it.
  • To interrogate the
    ’s criteria for what is good or successful. I am suspicious when I am being offered a formula to quick success
    or many riches. It is powerful to be able to question mainstream expectations,
    and carve my own path with courage and purpose.

The responsibility that comes with the freedom
to choose is terrifying. But the cost of not choosing is even more so.

We need to welcome this dizziness of
as a sign that we are, in fact, just where we need to be. A sign
that we need to slow down and reflect on the risk, then step off the edge

Diana Renner – Leadership consultant, facilitator, author of ‘Not Knowing – the art of turning uncertainty into opportunity’, Chartered Management Institute Book of the Year 2015, UK.

Twitter: @NotKnowingLab

Share the delta

Knowledge grows & iterates. Share the changes.

Imagine you could write a blog post that perfectly encapsulates all that you know. You would need to write it again tomorrow. In each day there are learnings and insights that shift your knowledge, experience, skills and perspectives. 

We can’t write that one perfect post. There is no point when it is immediately out of date. Besides the short attention spans of blog audiences indicate nobody but your biggest fan would read it. 

However, there is another way to share what you know. Share the changes in your knowledge, the delta. Work out loud on how your knowledge grows. Sharing this delta consistently will draw all that you know into the conversation over time. Build a new discipline. This process of sharing will accelerate your learning and iteration. You won’t have one perfect post, but over time you will build a web of interwoven posts. 

Share the delta. 

Share the Lonely Ideas

Put your ideas in circulation. Ideas don’t deserve to be lonely. Share them in conversation. Watch them grow. Discover you do more.

Ideas start in conversation

We are surrounded by wonderful ideas. We have many every day. Too many are born and die lonely and unloved.

Almost all the ideas explored in this blog come from conversations. These posts are the insights and reflections on a flow of daily interactions. Many come from working out loud and the comments others make in reply to my work. 

Over time, I have learned to watch for those wonderful ideas that pop up in conversation. Teasing them out in conversation enriches them. Noting them down supplies a ready source of inspiration for future posts (Evernote is a blessing). Without others to share those conversations, there would be far fewer quality ideas.  

Ideas are better in action.

All of the ideas that become posts are further improved by being shared further, refined, tested, challenged and built upon. The really good ideas grow most through use by others.

Ideas get lonely if they have only one brain to occupy. Lonely ideas wither, lose their power and are forgotten. Sharing an idea increases its value. You still have the idea but now it has been shared elsewhere. Not only do you still have it but the process of sharing enables others to help you improve your once lonely idea.

Even better, a lonely idea shared is a call for collaboration. So many of the best projects I have been involved in arise when an idea shared becomes a common cause.

Share your lonely ideas. Connect with others to create, share and improve your ideas.

You will discover you do more by working out loud.

International Working Out Loud Week is from 17-24 November and is an opportunity to experiment for a week with sharing of your work. Join in the movement of people working out loud.