Why This? Why Now? “Working Out Loud”

Work Out Loud: Why This? Why Now?

Have you ever started working on a project only to find out that someone else in your organization is working on the same project?

Have you ever been stuck trying to research data in your organization only to find out the guy next door did all that research work last year, and all you had to do was go next door for your answers?


Yep. Been there, done that – and from these experiences, I learned to talk more about projects I was working on. If only for no other reason than to stop doing double work, but the reality was that the greatest benefits turned out to be those that are outlined below. At the end of this post, look for a fab WOL support tool! I look forward to reading about what you are doing to “Work Out Loud” this week.


It’s time for  WOL (Work Out Loud) Week. For the uninitiated, WOL is just what one might think, it’s about showing or sharing your work with others. Who the “others” are, is up to you. They may be your L&D colleagues or team, they may be business partners, other people from cross departments, your network or long suffering friends and family. The key here is to show it off, talk about the work and show your process. Organizations have long struggled with breaking down knowledge silos that create information hoarding. John Stepper  seems to have started the WOL movement with his book “Working Out Loud” and others have followed in his foot steps, most notably Jane Bozarth with her book “Show Your Work”.

Call it what you will – “Work Out Loud”, “Show Your Work”, “Share Your Work”, “Scrums” etc. – They are all working toward the same goal: sharing how you do, what you do. The “How To’s”, the “Why For’s”, and the “Look At This!”.  Why? Because when we share our work; we grow, we learn, and we collectively get better and smarter (therefore, more effective, productive and efficient). This not only applies to L&D but to everyone, regardless of business sector or department.

John Stepper puts it this way in his post, “The Five Elements of Working Out Loud”.

“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.”

I understand there are many readers out there who “Work Out Loud” regularly making it part of your every day working life and cheers to you! Please jump to the bottom of this post and in true WOL style, share your experiences.

To some of you the idea is foreign, if not a bit scary. Here we will talk challenges and benefits.

The challenge

People present a lot of arguments as to why NOT to work out loud:

  1. I’m not working on anything worth sharing.
  2. Someone may steal my work.
  3. Who would be interested in what I do every day?
  4. I work hard every day and I’m not giving this information away.
  5. Working Out Loud takes extra work

All true. To a certain degree. Let us debunk shall we? 

  1. If you are not working on anything worth sharing and talking about – is it really worth working on? Just asking.
  2. Someone may steal my work. This is possible. Regardless, if you are working with some lowlife that steals work without credit, a pox on them! Just don’t let it deter from sharing and breaking down silo’s. We’ll get to the benefits in a moment.
  3. Anyone would be interested, because you are working on interesting stuff right? Your team is certainly interested and your network is interested. We all suffer from time to time with impostor syndrome, but trust me your work is great.
  4. I got nothin’ for this mentality. Working in silo’s is what has created the destructive workplace we have right now. We have all been victims cancerous workplaces – it’s a sad, sorry state of events when we horde information.
  5. Yep, it takes time. But not as much as you would think and it’s time well worth the effort. The gains to knowledge sharing are way more than the effort and more sustainable once you get started.

Let’s discuss the benefits.

Simon Terry – makes some great points regarding the benefits of WOL in this post: “You Can’t Predict the Value of Working Out Loud” so with this in mind, let’s break down the benefits into three areas.

With your team: Think group share.

  1. Pick a problem project and ask three questions: 1) Where are you stuck? 2) What/who is holding up your idea? 3) What improvements would you like to make?
  2. Choice a project that is going well and ask these questions: 1) What did your planning process look like? 2) How did make those big decisions? 3) What did your collaboration efforts look like?

There are key learnings to take away from these discussions. Even just the idea of putting all the projects on the table will lead to discussions, “Hey, I didn’t know you were working on customer service – Sales just asked me for customer behavior data!” Now, you have synergy. DING!

With your organization: Think “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!”

  1. Share what you are working on the company blog and department newsletter. Not only does this make people aware that your department is alive and well but working on items that are mission critical. Extra credit: Ask for ideas to make improvements.
  2. “Work Out Loud” in a common area. You’ll get great feedback and all sorts of other side benefits, like perhaps someone stumbles upon you in the lunch room while you show off your latest widget design. Someone in your organization was struggling with how to create designs in general – now you’ve connected and helped. Excellent, you saved someone some time!

The more we share information, the less people have to search for information. This is why people have an instruction manual drawer at home. It doesn’t do me any good if my husband keeps the dishwasher manual in the glove compartment of his car. The same holds true for organizational information silos.

With your network: Think peer review/peer share

  1. Take pictures of your work, share your progress with your network for ideas.
  2. Create a Skype group and present your project. Share how you got from point A to point B, and ask questions to unblock yourself or get feedback for improvement. We all learn from this exercise. (Sending virtual high-fives to my group!)
  3. Group collaboration, using all manner of internet based tools. Make use of your local ATD chapter meetings for help or ideas. Successful project outcome? Outstanding! Share the project to the groups, share the process and the result so others can take away ideas. Posting ideas, thoughts, success stories (and horror stories) helps other to generate thoughts and ideas and so on and so on.


A week of working out loud.

Helen Blunden of Activate Learning Solutions developed this fab outline for the week. Let this be a support tool for you and your teams to begin the process of “Working Out Loud”. Isn’t she genius? I have her permission to tell you all to download this piece of awesomeness  >> WOL Week tool and share with your organization – post it everywhere! (Share Your Work!)

WOL Ideas for the week


In recognition of the event, I am sharing my plan for this week: 

Monday: I posted a video outlining my plan for the week. Plus posted a few pictures reflecting a strategy meeting I was in (without giving away proprietary details).

Tuesday: 1) This post (okay, I’m a tad behind already, but it’s still Tuesday!)

Wednesday: 1) Sending out “Anatomy of a Newsletter” 2) Talking to a college class about how to develop a learning strategy for an organization. This is set up as an “Ask me Anything”.  A true WOL exercise.

Thursday: Hosting an ATD webinar on Instructional Design, having some WOL moments with participants and their project work.

Friday: Posting a “how-to” video for #RebelliousReaders newsletter group. How to access our FB page, sign up for blab and periscope, and discuss book options. Lastly, tips on how to start a #RebelliousReader group in their own organizations and make it successful.


So you, my dear readers are my loosely connected network – and therefore, you all are loosely connected too. Isn’t it great when a plan comes together?



What are your plans for the remainder of WOL week? Share in the comments below your plans, ideas, questions



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Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

2 thoughts on “Why This? Why Now? “Working Out Loud””

  1. Thanks, Shannon! I appreciate the breakdown of the process and the very simple, straightforward suggestions for implementation. As always you’ve given me something to think about today that is manageable in my context. 🙂


    • Thanks for the comment Gail. WOL is one of those concepts that we tend to over think. Most of use spend our days already talking about what we are working on – now it’s about how to move from talking to sharing. The difference between “This is what I’m doing” versus “Let me show you what I’m working on”. I would love for you share any results or ideas that you used in your workplace. Share the fun. 🙂


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