Working Out Loud Circles – Who Will Join Us?

On 12 August I joined an OzLearn Twitter chat about Working Out Loud (WOL).  I will update this post with a link to the Storify archive of this chat when it is published.  We were fortunate to be joined by Simon Terry who blogs about WOL (amongst other topics).

Bryce Williams initially defined the concept of Working Out Loud as:

Narrating Your Work + Observable Work.

John Stepper does a good job describing what these two elements mean in “Working Out Loud: Your Personal Content Strategy.”  Jane Bozarth calls the practice Showing Your Work.


Yet, what practices actually constitute Working Out Loud can be a bit elusive.  There was a sense during the OzLearn chat that we were all Working Out Loud already, although which of our practices fell into this category and which didn’t was muddy.  One thing there was consensus on is that we each derive benefit from our WOL practices, and that the organisations we work in / with can benefit from widespread adoption of WOL.

It was Simon Terry who brought the groups attention to John Stepper’s idea of Working Out Loud Circles, which he describes as great peer support group.  Stepper describes how to implement WOL Circles, and suggests that they could be systematically spread to reap organisational benefits.  The idea quickly captured the interest of a number of chat participants and we’ve decided to set up some WOL Circles in Australia.

Each WOL circle consists of 4-5 people who meet for one hour per week over a twelve week period following a structured program.  Meetings can be held online or face-to-face. We will use the tool kit contained in John’s soon to be published book.  This is not intended to be a program that the OzLearn community ‘manages or ‘controls’ – rather an initiative to provide participants with an opportunity to improve their WOL practices.  It will also provide experience with an approach that participants could then use to implement WOL in their organisations.

Participation is open to any interested person who is able to join meetings held in Australian time zones.  We will kick off the first circles in late August / early September – as soon as we have enough people and an advance copy of John’s book.  If you are interested in joining a circle please leave your name and some way of contacting you (e.g. Twitter, email) in a comment below – or get in touch with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

  1. #1 by tanyalau on August 14, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    Awesome work Michelle – thanks for summarising the ‘work out loud’ concept – and most of all for inspiring us to take action and put it into practice!! I am a fan of both Simon Terry and John Stepper’s work so pretty excited at the prospect of trying the concept out with their support. Really look forward to working (out loud!) on this with you and others who join us – and seeing where it might go.

    I think one of the biggest challenges – well, one of my personal ones, anyway – is developing the habit of working out loud – of writing – regularly, and of sharing incomplete ideas. The social accountability – and mutual support, offered through the WOL circle idea is something that I think will definitely help in this area. Excited at the prospect of making it happen!

  2. #2 by simongterry on August 14, 2014 - 12:58 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful write up. Starting a network of circles is a great initiative. Please count me in and let me know how I can help. Simon

  3. #4 by Vanessa on August 15, 2014 - 12:02 am

    Count me in

    • #5 by Michelle Ockers on August 15, 2014 - 5:27 am

      Glad to see you are in Vanessa. I will be in touch as soon as Tanya, Helen and I have seen John’s book with the Circle tools – hopefully 1-2 weeks.

  4. #6 by learningsnippets on August 17, 2014 - 6:09 am

    Count me in too!

  5. #7 by Activate Learning Solutions on August 18, 2014 - 8:16 am

    Thanks for the great post Michelle, you know my response. Count me in! Let’s get WOL off the ground in Australia and within our L&D community. We are in a position to take the lead here and see some real business benefits that we can then use and explain for our own contexts such as within our own businesses or clients. We need more case studies!

  6. #8 by AnnieM on August 18, 2014 - 9:01 am

    and please count me in

  7. #9 by mireille massue on September 7, 2014 - 2:06 pm

    Hello Michelle and everyone who has left a comment

    I live in Toronto Canada and I would love to join you and yes I know the time difference. I’m an International Trainer who is currently on sabbatical.

    I’m preparing to do a six month series on telecommuting (my way of learning since I want to work from home) I would love to learn more on how social media can be part of the learning process.

    I’m a strong believer that training does not work and never will. It’s people and the culture they create that will support the curiosity, creativity and critical thinking that makes people interact and focus as one. So this WOL will be a fabulous way to model learning in away that is connected, communicable and collaborative. Yeah

    I’m so looking forward to be part of a learning environment that will make us all better and it’s such a wonderful opportunity to be able to model something than tell people they have to do it.

    Let me know how I can be of help and support. If I have any resources that can contribute to everyone’s success I’m more than happy to share. 🙂

    Looking forward to meeting all of you.

    Toronto, Canada

    • #10 by Michelle Ockers on September 10, 2014 - 10:29 am

      Hi Mireille, It will be wonderful to have you join us. I have almost finished reading John Stepper’s draft book on Working Out Loud where the exercises for the Circles come from. See my comment below about suggested next steps.

  8. #11 by Michelle Ockers on September 10, 2014 - 10:46 am

    We have six expressions of interest here. At least three of us (probably four counting Simon) have seen a draft copy of John’s book and some also the draft WOL Circle tool kits.

    This is a guided mastery program designed to take someone new to WOL through a series of exercises one small step at a time to purposefully work out loud in an open, generous, connected way in order to build a better network, career & life. At first I thought “well, I’m already doing this, so not sure what I will get out of it.” Having almost finished the book, I believe that I can fine tune my WOL practices by participating in a circle, and remain keen to do so.

    I am going to run a circle at work with people who are new to WOL. I believe that Helen is also interested in running a separate circle with people new to WOL. I would also like to participate in a circle with anyone who has expressed interest above.

    Early in the Circle process each participant sets a practical goal for WOL which they pursue using the Circle exercises (drawn from the book). In order to get value from participating in two circles I propose to set two goals – one for each Circle.

    For everyone else in this group there are 4 options:

    1) Form your own Circle with people new to WOL and facilitate it (if you don’t have draft book and kits I am sure we can find a way to share these with you ahead of formal publication).

    2) Join Circle with this group.

    3) Do both option 1 and 2.

    4) Do nothing – opt out of the Circles at this stage.

    Please let me know by posting a reply comment which of these options you would like to take up. My intent is to kick off both a circle at work and one with anyone still interested from this group in the week commencing 6 October. Are you in? If so, which option?

    Note – still open to more expressions of interest from others.

  9. #12 by tanyalau on September 10, 2014 - 11:01 am

    Hi Michelle, thanks for keeping the momentum on this. I am still interested in doing 2) (..and also keen to hear how you progress with 1). Will look at John’s book very soon! (4 yr old’s bday party took up a lot more time than I expected last wkend…). Also look forward to having Mireille from Canada join us!

  10. #13 by Vanessa North (@vanessaAnorth) on September 10, 2014 - 1:21 pm

    Hi Michelle, still keen to be involved in this group. I have John’s draft book & looking forward to participating. Also keen to start one at the ATO but might do that after this one gets going. Thanks for organising!

  11. #14 by AnnieM on September 10, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    Hi Michelle, I’d like to do option 2 at this stage. and thanks for the opportunity.

  12. #15 by Activate Learning Solutions on September 10, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    Hello Michelle

    Many thanks for alerting me to post my response. I’d like to try for (1). Today I sent an email to people who expressed an interest to learn more and provided them with a link to your blog post. Admittedly, it is difficult to create a circle now as I’m a freelancer outside an organisation but I have a network that I still keep in contact with through various social media and who are always keen to learn more.

    I’d like to trial it out as a WOL Coach as a pilot if I can get a small group of up to 4-5 people and to be involved in the transformative personal journeys which would be quite powerful to watch and take part in this.

    Thinking about my commitment ongoing, I can allow one hour per week to be a WOL coach as it will also be part of my own development from this perspective.

    Besides, I’m always an avid fan of stories. Imagine the great personal stories that will come out of this. So why not? Let’s give this a go. We never know if we don’t give it a go!

  13. #16 by learningsnippets on September 10, 2014 - 11:26 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    I’d be keen for option 2 as I’d like to become more familiar with the process before facilitating my own circle.

    Thanks so much for bringing this to life, I’m excited by it!

(will not be published)