Last week (7-13 November 2016) was International Working Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek). I used it as an opportunity to promote Working Out Loud (WOL) and give my own practices a boost by following the 7 days worth of actions to get you started working out loud.
Image source: WOLWeek.wordpress.com
In addition to consciously completing the WOL activity each day I committed to writing a blog post about that activity. My posts described both what I had done on the day as well as my experience with that activity during my current WOL Circle. Over the past few days I’ve been reflecting what I’ve learned and what I will do differently in coming weeks.
Reflecting on my Goal
A goal needs to be something I care about in order to motivate me. I’ve realised that to be a high enough priority for me to put sustained effort into it over the 12 week period of a WOL Circle it also needs to be highly relevant to my current work. It needs to be something I can apply to a current project. In the nine weeks since the start of this Circle my work focus has shifted. I’ve started an assignment with a new organisation, but I didn’t update my goal to be relevant to this project. Consequently my attention has moved to the new assignment and I’ve struggled to make time to progress my original goal.
Working Out Loud is a Force Multipler
On Day 5 I described WOL as a ‘force multiplier‘ – “it amplifies your presence and accelerates you work.” Although it’s challenging to change your practices to build WOL into the flow of your daily work, the value of working in a more open, connected, generous way is tremendous. WOL has helped me to:
- build my network and forge deeper relationships
- improve my practices and the quality of my work by helping me find resources, get early input and feedback from others, and build on the experience and work of others
- make faster progress on my goals
- create new opportunities
Power of Making Your Work Visible
Making your work visible (also known as ‘showing your work’ or ‘narrating your work’) is powerful for many reasons. For me, one of these reasons that it forces me to consciously reflect on my work rather than plough on in a near-continuous stream of activities. Secondly, it increases my accountabilty to make progress. It also leads to connection and conversation.
Power of Conversation
When I work on a project, especially where there is something novel about it for me, my thoughts shift over time. There is a process of discovery where I gather information, start processing it, hypothesise, gain insight, make some progress then find something new which results in me updating my view. The quality of my thinking greatly improves if I can ‘think out loud.’ I can do this by sharing my progress – making my work visible in any appropriate format.
Having a conversation about what I’ve shared is even more powerful, especially if it’s with someone who has some relevant experience or is able to challenge and extend my thinking through the use of powerful questions or different perspectives The way in which I make my work visible can increase the number of helpful conversations I generate. I can:
- target who I share my work with
- practice empathy and share my work with people to whom it is relevant, and explain why they should care (what’s the WIIFM?)
- make it easy for others to consume and process by keeping it brief and clear
- share early in the process
- ask for input and help
- maintain and communicate an open mindset
- thank people for their help
- acknolwedge the contribution of others
What next with WOL for me?
The reflection on my goal and the power of Working Out Loud have led me to change my goal for the remaining three weeks of my WOL Circle. My new goal is:
“to Work Out Loud in the flow of work in my current role.”
This goal will help me to build my network in my new organisation, find people with an interest in the work I am doing, access a range of assistance, and reduce the risk that I duplicate work that has already been done. While waiting for access to the organisation’s IT infrastructure I have had the opportunity to present in person to a range of forums, and have accepted all subsequent invitations to meet with interested people. I have IT access from today, and look forward to the experience of using Yammer within an organisation for the first time and observing how the learning community is connecting and collaborating online. I will use Simon Terry’s 3 tiny habits to build working out loud into my day as I familiarise myself with this new environment.
On the flip side, I felt that while I was blogging daily last week I spent more time in ‘output’ mode than in ‘listening’ mode in my networks. I feel a need to redress the balance and listen more in my public networks over the next few weeks, looking for opportunities to engage and contribute too others along the way.
What did you learn during WOL Week?
Please post below to let me know what you learned during WOL Week, or at any other time when you have worked out loud.