Working Out Loud

I can’t stand buzzwords and business speak. So, on the face of it I should’ve avoided ‘Working Out Loud’ at all costs.

I stumbled across the term whilst researching the use of Yammer within various organisations. At first glance, it seems like the sort of snake oil that social media “experts” pedal whilst promising MASSIVE ENGAGEMENT and HYPER-CONNECTED SYNERGY.

Upon further reading though, it actually turned out to be a very practical approach to working that makes a lot more sense in our ever more connected lives.

So, what does ‘Working Out Loud’ actually mean?

“Working Out Loud starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that – when you work in a more open, connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities.” – John Stepper

As someone who works in IT, the bulk of the workload can be largely invisible to the majority of the organisation.. unless something goes horribly wrong! Additionally, if those around you can’t grasp the technical challenges involved it can be hard to get recognition for a job well done. In an attempt to do a little bit of PR, I started making progress updates and decision processes more visible via platforms like Asana and Yammer. In essence, this is one of the core practices of Working Out Loud. 

Working Out Loud IS NOT about bragging to the rest of the organisation about your achievements. It’s about giving your colleagues an opportunity to work with you. In some way it’s also about encouraging those serendipitous conversations where you’re struggling with the exact same problem as someone else in the organisation, albeit from perhaps a different perspective.

Working Out Loud does require a good dose of honesty. If you only share your roaring successes, you’re depriving people of valuable lessons learned when you’ve failed. And actually, if you’re being open and transparent in the way that you approach work, you should have reduced your chances of huge catastrophic failures because somebody should’ve steered you in a different direction.

Obviously the effectiveness of Working Out Loud largely depends on the culture of your work place. If your organisation isn’t very open, you may find that there’s a great deal of resistance when you try and lift the veil on what you’re doing.

Working Out Loud can also be threatening to traditional rigid ‘top down’ management structures, perceived as trying to circumvent the chain of command or going rogue!

But Working Out Loud doesn’t have to exist purely inside the work place. The same principles can be applied to Social Media. If you can’t work transparently inside your workplace, why not try and connect with others with similar interests in other organisations?