It was much more intense than I expected. For five days in a row, 25 of us from places as far apart as Auckland, Stuttgart, and Palo Alto worked on how to spread the practice of working out loud.
It was intended as a pilot for a course and certification program, but it may turn out to be something more.
The planned program
The original idea for the program included training, support, and certification.
Training would be delivered via video over a week, with new content prepared specifically for it. Support would last for 6 months after the training, and participants would join monthly calls and get support from me via email. Certification meant recognition on workingoutloud.com for those who completed the training, participated in a circle, and had experience spreading it.
It seemed pretty straightforward. Over the last few months, I prepared for the training, offered it for free, and spent last week delivering it.
What actually happened
Like any course, there was an agenda and material for each day. The technology, thankfully, worked beautifully. But the best part of the week were the things I didn’t expect.
The learning came from everywhere. People didn’t just learn from me or the material. We all learned from each other. Every day,different people presented what they were doing inside their organizations, and we all learned about ways to start, scale, and adapt the practice. This included, for example, detailed techniques for collecting data on circle effectiveness and for nurturing circles as they spread.
It was personal. We got to know each other, and the stories of how people were applying the practice were incredibly varied and inspiring. On listening to people share their personal motivations, one person said, “I sat there with my ears and mouth open, listening to their stories. I am just beginning to realize where WOL can take me.”
New possibilities already appeared. Perhaps most surprising was how several participants already created new possibilities for themselves as a direct result of spreading working out loud. We heard stories of people who spread the practice and gained influence or responsibility. Several participants proposed spreading it and got new jobs or projects. Independent consultants created new opportunities with big clients.
The next 6 months
As one person said during the week, it felt like a community of practice, people who came together to advance the state of a practice we care about.
Now it’s time for all of us to take some steps. That will include the monthly meetings and other support for the next six months, and we’ll expand both ideas. Each month, we’ll feature presentations from other organizations and work through specific coaching examples. We’ll use several collaboration platforms to stay connected, and we’ll expand a common library of material. Some of that will be public, and some will be private within the community so we can share a broader range of examples and content.
The key is that as each of us tries something - spreading working out loud in an organization, adapting it for a client, advancing our individual practice - we’ll know we can rely on the community and a wealth of resources to help us.
The next time the program will be offered
Everyone who participated in the pilot made a contribution that will make future offerings even better. I’m deeply grateful for that and for the entire experience last week.
At the end of the training, I asked people for anonymous feedback as to whether they would recommend the program when it is offered for a fee. They all said yes. My favorite response was “Absolutely, fundamentally, unequivocally, without hesitation….Yes."
They all see that Working Out Loud helps people access more opportunities and feel better each day. Increasingly, they’re seeing that more organizations want to spread the practice - and the benefits of increased engagement, digital literacy, ability to collaborate, and more.
Some organizations will hire people to deliver customized programs for them. Some will try it on their own. And now some will have an option of sending one or more of their employees to become part of a community that will help them and their organization succeed at a fraction of the cost of traditional development or change programs.
I’ll send out an announcement when the next session will take place. In the meantime, you can register your interest with a comment below.
I’m looking forward to our community of practice getting bigger and better.