I Just Started [Really] Working Out Loud...And Here’s What Happened

This post was originally published on the HumanCapitalist blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

Recently, I wrote about how I believe the future of enterprise learning should include internal blogging  The idea is that by openly sharing one’s work, much can be learned from the sharing itself and from others who see the blogs and contribute to them. In other words, people can learn through internal blogging because it is about communicating and collaborating with people anywhere in your organization. 

Because I have derived direct benefits in my work through internal blogging, I have continued the practice and have begun to take it one step further. That one step further is working out loud. 

Working Out Loud

The idea of working out loud was first introduced in 2010 by Bryce Williams, who describes it as the sum of observable work and narration of work. Internal blogging is the narration of work. I have begun to add the observable work to the equation by actually creating work products on documents that any one of the 140 employees at ServiceRocket can view, edit, and comment on.  

Believe me, it is not easy putting a first draft of a document out there for all to see. First drafts are awful. But that is a topic for another day. 

The first real observable work I worked on was a blog post for our web site.

Working in Public

In addition to my training role at ServiceRocket, I also write many of the blog posts that are published on the web site. Before my working out loud initiative, I wrote drafts of blog posts on a Google Doc, which I could then share with our marketing team after I finished. Every once in a while, I shared the “in-progress" draft with people around the company for feedback. The problem was two-fold. First, I need to have both the presence-of-mind to share my "in-progress" draft, exposing my early, awful drafts to ridicule. Second, I must know with whom to share it.

Two weeks ago, I decided to work out loud. I posted an outline (and some rough notes) as an internal blog with a lead that read, “This is a working draft for a blog post on…..” I didn’t expect much, but when I woke up the next morning, the first three paragraphs had been written by one of our consultants in our Sydney office. Wow! My post was off and running. I finished the draft and later discovered that someone else from our Palo Alto office had edited it and fixed several errors. 

Working out loud works if you have the collaboration tools and are willing to stick your neck out there. You might even get better work done more quickly. I did. 

My Next Project 

I benefited from working out loud so much that I am continuing the practice. Currently, I am working on a speaking proposal for a conference in May. Instead of drafting my proposal in private in Evernote or Google Docs, I have written an internal blog post for everyone in my organization to see. Within one hour of posting the notes for my proposal, I have received five comments and one person has edited some of my proposed titles. 

How could my proposal not be accepted now?

What examples do you have of working out loud? How has it worked for you? What reasons do you have for not working out loud?