A Working Out Loud Conference in December(?)

A few months ago, a group of companies in Germany met for a day to exchange how they might help spread the practice of Working Out Loud. We exchanged ideas and challenges, and got to know each other better. It was lovely.

This week we met again (see this Storify of the event by Daimler), and the progress in the past few months has been extraordinary for some companies. One got the attention of board members for supporting WOL programs. Another started their on-boarding pilot. Another is actively spreading it in China and India. In the afternoon, we worked together on different topics that would be of use and interest to all of us, and that would advance the practice. It was good work with good friends.

But something was missing. We all want help other organizations build their own WOL movement. There’s a growing list of companies that are starting to spread Working Out Loud, and even more that are interested. Yet while we don’t want our working group to be an exclusive club, we also recognize that working groups become unworkable if they’re too big. And it’s the rare company or person that would invest this much time helping others.

So what could be a way to help others get started and benefit from the lessons of the early adopters?

That’s when we began considering a public WOL conference. The first experiment would likely be in Stuttgart, and limited to 100 people or so. The objective wouldn’t be money or marketing, but helping companies who are actively engaged in spreading the practice of Working Out Loud.

If we organized such an event this year, perhaps in early December, would you be interested in attending? If so, what would be most valuable to you?

8 companies in Germany

There have been meet-ups before, and even a company conference, but this was different. This was eight companies coming together to advance the practice of Working Out Loud. 

Daimler was our host, thanks to Lukas Fütterer and Melanie Raßloff from their Digital Life Team. They published images and updates from the event:

"With the spring arriving in Stuttgart, 15 practitioners from Audi, BMW, Bosch, Continental, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom and Siemens discussed the status & co-create on the future of Working Out Loud in big corporations together with John Stepper #WOL #DigitalLife"

In front of Daimler's Digital Life bus. (First time "Working Out Loud" is on the side of a bus!)

“Co-create the future of Working Out Loud” is what really made this meeting extraordinary. Each company is already spreading WOL Circles in some way. This meeting was about how to do it better and faster. It was about what we need to improve and create, and how we will work together to do it. By the end of the day we had specific initiatives with different practitioners teaming up to drive them. Bernd Zimmermann, an HR executive and innovator at Siemens, described it in his blog post as “making the New Work work.”

In the TEDx talk last year I said, “If Working Out Loud does become a movement, it will be because of the people in the community.” Today was evidence of that. Combined, these eight companies co-creating the future have over 1.7 million employees. Together, we took another step towards making a difference.