Show your Work!

wolToday’s fast-paced, complex environments require a new approach to communicating and knowledge-sharing.  Old ways of electronic communications, such as e-mail (you do know that’s what the “e” stands for, yes?), simply pave over the cowpaths of existing hierarchical chains of command.  Email preserves everything bad about the industrial age including status, authority, CYA, and even certain malevolent behaviors such as bcc’s and forwarding private messages.  I found a great example of this sort of thing on this post from a few years ago by our fellow change agent, Carrie Young.

I’ve often commented that email breeds a culture of mistrust.  It could be because I’ve worked in a lot of environments where egos, secrecy, and power politics defined the culture.  But, seriously, who hasn’t?

When you Work out Loud, these age-old traps disappear.  Working out loud is synonymous with transparency.  We “see” what you’re doing, and we can observe how you’ve come to conclusions.  Make a mistake?  No problem, we all do.  Isn’t it preferred to make a mistake among your peers where you can correct and improve your work, rather than passing an error onto one of your clients?

Working out loud provides even greater benefits in contributing to the living knowledge base of an organization.  With a sturdy search capability, and smart use of tagging, everyone in the company can scoop up the best thinking the company does around any given topic on demand.  When you become accustomed to working this way, it’s difficult to go backwards.

Just this morning, I recognized that an offline conversation wasn’t shared “out loud,” and it inhibited our team from understanding how something was done with one of our partners.

It is #WOLweek on Twitter, and I hope you take some time to read the many posts and tweets from enthusiastic fans.  If you’d like to learn more about working out loud, I recommend this post by Matt Partovi and, of course, our own video and infographic we created with Maria Ogneva, our first customer, then at Salesforce.

Here is a mind-blowing stat I love to quote about working out loud:

In the year and a half since we launched Change Agents Worldwide, we have not once emailed our members.  In fact, I don’t even know what their email addresses are.


  1. Show Your Work | #wolweek - November 5, 2014

    […] Susan Scrupski describes the power of Showing Your Work […]

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