Working Out Loud – Bring the now into your work

As the general theme for the Enterprise 2.0 Summit is Getting Social Enterprise Ready, Working Out Loud seems an appropriate metaphor.

I’ll begin straight away with a (broad) definition, penned down by John Stepper on his blog:

“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.”


These kind of definitions always make me think, I like to put them in context. This is to make sure I understand, and maybe it helps others understand too. How’s that for working out loud.

To the point, earlier I wrote about Change Agents and how they, as the bottom line, are responsible for the actual changes which happen in a company. But, even though they are crucial to the process, if they do not share their thoughts, plans and adventures, nobody else can be influenced by them.

This is the main difference between a Social Business and Just a Business.

In “the old days” your biggest, personal asset was your knowledge. You knew more about a process, a client or a tool than anybody else, and therein lay your value. The last thing you would do is share that information with a co-worker, especially if that co-worker could threaten your position.

We were, and many still are, working in silence. Isolated and deprived from any stimulants, innovation or progress.

Now we’re working towards an environment where we share anything we learn, help other reach their goals. All the ideas, lessons learned and practices you’ll hear at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit will aid you in your progress. Everything is shared with you, because the more we share, the more we learn.

Now your biggest asset is your network, and the people (and knowledge) in that network.

Working Out Loud goes beyond Blogging

Blogging is a wonderful way to express yourself. It allows you to venture into the unknown. If you come across a new subject regarding your profession or passion, you can write about it. This forces you to research the subject, learn about it, and share your findings and/or opinion with the world.

It is, by any measure, one of the most wonderful ways to share, and find information in an extensive manner. I do recommend it to anybody.

However, Working Out Loud goes beyond blogging. Getting the word out is more than “just writing a blog”, and even that can be quite daunting for many (Stepper even talks about personal content strategyˆ).

I’m leaning heavily on John Stepper’s blog here, and he mentions Bryce Williams (another blog, see how that works). Williams came up with the term “working out loud” and defined it more in a formula than a definition:

 “Working out loud = Narrating your work + Observable work”

Stepper and Williams both realised that adding more channels to the already heavily burdened workload of the employee is not the solution.

Narrating something Observable

Williams combines the two perfectly into Working Out Loud (he even has a very clever Spaceballs reference).

Do your work, like you’ve always done, but journal it in a way which is (easily) retrievable by everybody. This way you don’t have to go out of your way explaining what you’re up to, or spend time filling people in. Anybody can see what you’re doing, and anybody can give you input, or help you.

Observable Change

In this digital age it’s not a great challenge to record everything. The challenge lies in retrieving the knowledge, and sharing it with the right people. Modern social software allows you to do that, with proper tagging, creating projects, and inviting and following the right people.

Providing Change Agents with the ability to Work Out Loud can boost any process you put in place. Allowing and stimulating your employees to use the social platform(s) you provide will create an observable change within your company.

The video below might be more targeted at late adopters (there already is an extensive enterprise social platform), but it illustrates Working Out Loud perfectly.

At the Enterprise 2.0 Summit we strive to Getting Social Enterprise Ready. This provides the foundation for the change. This allows employees to communicate and network with each other in a way that was hard to imagine a decade ago.

About the author

Rogier Noort

I'm a Social Business enthusiast coming from the technical depths of IT and rising from these dark ages, through web and social, to the enlightened field of Social Business.