I’ve started to ‘Work Out Loud’. The term ‘Working out loud’ (WOL) was coined by Bryce Williams and is a way of gaining value from collaboration, often through social networks.
Working Out Loud = Observable Work + Narrating Your Work
John Stepper says it is making your work visible, sharing it with others so that through social collaboration, your work will improve. In an attempt to change the way I work, I decided to give it a go.
Rather than talking about my work with my colleagues, I decided to post about it to my internal social collaboration site. However the digital workplace can become socially isolating as we squirrel away at our own work in our own world, sometimes more closely connected to our computer than we are to our colleagues. The physical location of where we work is changing. In the workplace of the future where flexible working is the norm, we won’t have the same desks to come to each morning and working from home or at different hours to our colleague’s means collaborating and interacting online has to become the norm.
The first hurdle to WOL was I was doing it in isolation, rather than it being something my whole team was doing.
Lesson 1 – WOL needs more than one person to work.
Next was my ‘obsession’ with my email. Do I judge my productivity on the amount of emails I send and receive? My inbox was a trap and if I started each day looking at my emails my ability to share my work and talk about it ‘out loud’ was hampered. I needed to start my day with the working habits I want to drive through the rest of my day..
Lesson 2 – work is more than your inbox and ticking off that task list. It will still be there when you come back – but the great idea you want to share with your colleagues or providing input to colleague’s idea or client project might not be.
Lesson 3 was unexpected. Many people don’t want to share ideas and learnings. “Knowledge is power” is their mantra and they are reluctant to work collaboratively in case their ideas are no longer their own, or they’re afraid to be challenged or to be seen as wrong. I found this challenging, as a fundamental principle of WOL is the benefit of collaboration – not only enriching your work, but the work of your colleagues.
The mantra must change – collaboration is power, knowledge is just a benefit.
I can’t pretend WOL was quite the great success I had hoped for, it was much harder than I thought, but it did challenge me to think about my work habits especially not to be afraid of sharing a half thought through idea. In the WOL world, sharing it will only make it better.
Perseverance is important – any new habit takes time to develop. So with perseverance and a continuing focus on collaboration, I will continue to work out loud. In fact – in writing and posting this I have just made the first big step.