Frequently Asked Questions
What is Working Out Loud?
Working Out Loud is a way to build relationships that can help you in some way, like achieving a goal or exploring a new topic or skill. Instead of networking to get something, you invest in relationships by making contributions over time, including your work and experiences that you make visible. Your contributions over time are what build trust and deepen a sense of relatedness, and that's what increases the chances for cooperation and collaboration.
The results? When you Work Out Loud, you're more effective because you have access to more people, knowledge, and opportunities that can help you. You feel better, too, because your bigger network of meaningful relationships give you a greater sense of control, competence, and connection. All of that leads to more motivation for individuals, and to more agility, innovation, and collaboration for an organization.
- "Working Out Loud: The making of a movement" (TEDx video, 9 Minutes)
- Below is a 2-minute video from an organization embracing Working Out Loud (ZF Group, 140,000 employees):
What's involved? How do I Work Out Loud?
The practice starts with three simple questions:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- Who's related to my goal?
- How can I contribute to people to deepen our relationship?
Picking a simple goal makes it purposeful, and orients who you choose to build relationships with and what kinds of contributions you might make. Instead of networking to get something, you lead with generosity, investing in relationships that give you access to other people, knowledge, and possibilities. Your contributions can range from recognition & appreciation to sharing learning, resources, and original work that might be helpful to others.
A Working Out Loud Circle is the best way to put the idea into practice, and to develops habits and a mindset you can apply to any goal.
How do I start? What's a Working Out Loud Circle?
One of the best ways to start is to form a Working Out Loud Circle. That's a peer support group of 4-5 people who meet for an hour a week for 12 weeks. You can meet in person or via video. Both work well.
In your Circle, you each pick an individual goal you care about, and short, simple guides help you find people related to your goal and develop relationships with them. By the end, you’ll have developed a larger, more diverse network and a set of habits you can apply toward any goal.
The guides are free, and are available in English and German. You can connect with WOL practitioners around the world - and even find Circle members - in the private WOL Community on Facebook.
Here are a few of the many "Circle selfies" people have shared online (click on images to scroll through):
How might this apply to an organization?
Almost every organization is looking for ways to be more agile or innovative. They also want a more engaged workforce. Yet, the change management programs and digital transformation programs typically miss the most important piece: changing day-to-day behavior.
Working Out Loud Circles help people develop new habits and a new mindset at work. As more people across an organization Work Out Loud, work becomes more effective and fulfilling, and the culture becomes more open and collaborative.
Related Resources including common goals for WOL Programs:
- "Working Out Loud @ Bosch" - a comprehensive article by Katharina Krentz on how she spreads WOL
- On-boarding: Helping new joiners be more connected & productive more quickly
- Adoption of digital tools (Social Intranets, etc)
- Helping leaders leverage digital tools to engage their organizations
- Improving employee engagement by tapping into employees' intrinsic motivation
- Fostering a mindset of experimentation & innovation
- Empowering people in diversity communities
- Creating a more effective mentoring program
- Graduate training programs: enabling new employees how to navigate the organization
- The missing piece in most organization change programs (Blog post)
- FAQ: "How do we get management support?" (Blog post)
Who’s doing the most with Working Out Loud?
Circles are in over 25 countries and a wide range of organizations, from corporations and non-profits to universities and government. Bosch, the global engineering firm headquartered in Germany, has done the most to spread Working Out Loud Circles and also to adapt the practice for their organization. Many other organizations are now following their lead.
Are there any measurable benefits?
The best data currently comes from surveys done at Bosch and Daimler, where people who have experienced a WOL Circle have universally said they would recommend the method to their network. Click on the link below for more details and additional survey results.
Are they individual goals? What about teams or shared goals?
In the Working Out Loud Circles, you pick an individual goal you care about. That helps you tap into your intrinsic motivation. There is also a set of Circle Guides for Teams that's being piloted now, and experiments are being planned for Communities of Practice and other groups with shared goals. You can read more about the pilot in this blog post, "Co-creation with Bosch and Postshift." Or send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I’m not an extrovert or don’t like social media?
What matters most is that you frame your goals in terms of other people and in terms of contributions you might make that could deepen the relationship. That requires empathy, reflection, and mindfulness more than extroversion or facility with tools. The blog posts in the related resources go into much more detail.
Why is "Working Out Loud" trademarked?
After I launched workingoutloud.com and published the book, I noticed a related trademark already existed and multiple websites were popping up with similar names. I also noticed an increasing number of consultants offering workshops related to Working Out Loud. So I decided I needed to pursue my own trademark. The first reason is to defend my right to use keep using my domain name and to offer products and services related to it. The second is to ensure that the products and services using that name were consistent and coherent.
Some people have complained this is unfair or otherwise not proper, as Working Out Loud is about sharing your work. Some feel that the very idea of a trademark is inconsistent with generosity. I understand and respect their point of view. Yet, I estimate well over ten thousand people have used the free Circle Guides that I've worked on for years, and hundreds of organizations have also used the guides for free. So I feel it is both appropriate and fair for me to be able to offer products and services using "Working Out Loud" and "WOL" while I continue to offer free services.