Celebrating 5 WOL Coaches

Back in February, in a post about how WOL could scale, I announced the first people I was working with in a formal way to deliver talks, workshops, and other training related to Working Out Loud. It was an experiment at the time, but it has worked so well that it’s now grown into something much more.

The new site for Certified WOL Coaches refers to them as “A global network of highly-skilled facilitators.” The five people listed have all contributed to the WOL Community for years. I work closely with each of them, and am inspired both by what they do and how they do it.

Sabine Kluge

Alexander Kluge

Katharina Krentz

Barbara Schmidt

Mara Tolja

I want to thank Sabine, Alexander, Katharina, Barbara, and Mara for their trust, and for the many ways they have made Working Out Loud better. In the future there will be other coaches in other places, and it will be hard to match the experience and commitment of these five people. 

The WOL Pilot Program: 25 People in 6 Countries

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 5.05.03 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 5.05.03 PM

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.

UPDATE: The First Course & Certification Program for Working Out Loud

Last month, I announced a pilot program for people wanting to spread the practice of working out loud inside their organizations and for consultants who want to help their clients.

Over 70 people signed up for the 10 spots I had planned to offer.

That’s a great response but presents the problem of saying no to most of the people who expressed an interest. Here’s a quick update on who I selected and what to do next.

WOL Training and Certification

WOL Training and Certification

The program

For those of you who may have missed it, here’s a short summary of the program:

The program I plan on offering includes three elements:

The training will be delivered online over the course of a week, with live instruction from me for two hours each day. There will be new material and exercises prepared specifically for the course.

The certification requires that, beyond completing the training, you’ve participated in a circle and have already had experience spreading it (e.g., by delivering this presentation). People who are certified will be listed on workingoutloud.com.

The program includes 6 months of support after the training. Thiswill include, at a minimum, monthly live calls and email support,

How I selected people

Being chosen for the pilot wasn’t intended to be a contest or competition of any kind. The reason for keeping the pilot so small is that it’s so new and untested. I largely selected people who are already spreading the practice in some way and thus in a good position to shape the program.

The pilot program will be held the week of January 25th, Monday through Friday, from 10a - Noon NY time so it overlaps with European timezones. I’ve contacted the people selected to attend. Some of them care so much they’ll join from Australia and New Zealand despite the very inconvenient hours for them.

If you weren’t selected yet

Even without the course, you can still spread the practice for free by using the circle guides and by participating in the practitioners’ community. If you’re trying to spread the practice in your organization, I’ll also help you wherever I can.

If the program proves to be useful, I expect to offer it again in 2016 for a fee. If there’s enough interest, I’ll add a session for APAC timezones as well.

In the meantime, the single best thing you can do is to form a Working Out Loud circle. Even if you’ve done it before, the more experience you have with different people, goals, and challenges, the better you’ll be prepared to spread the practice.

If you want to get experience hosting an event at your organization, contact me and I’ll help you.

The next steps

The next step is preparing material specific to the course, coordinating logistics and technology, and getting ready for January 25th. I’m hoping and expecting that the people in the program will shape it. Some already have.

Based on the pilot, we may well learn the course doesn’t work or we need to adjust the format significantly. Or as participation grows, we may also add additional elements like in-person meet-ups, or even a conference.

This is just one small step in scaling the Working Out Loud movement. The more trained and certified people we have, the more we can adapt this simple practice to all sorts of organizations and all kinds of work.

Thank you for all you’ve done to make Working Out Loud spread as far as it has, and for helping even more people in the future.

The First Course & Certification Program For Working Out Loud

Update: Registration for the free pilot program will be open till the end of November so more people have a chance to comment. At that time, we'll fill the few spots we have open and I'll notify everyone. Thank you for your interest! If we want to help millions of people work out loud - individuals, companies, and organizations that make the planet better - we’re going to need more people who can spread the practice.

Here’s something that will help.

Helping people help themselves

It’s important to me that anyone can readily develop the practice themselves. That’s why the circle guides and online community are free and the book is inexpensive.

But what if you want more help than that? Perhaps you’re an independent consultant trying to help your clients work out loud. Or you’re inside an organization and trying to spread the practice there. What if you want to customize everything for your specific organization’s tools, culture, and kind of work?

I’ve helped some companies directly and will continue to do more of that. With some training and support, though, more people could take what’s available, build on it, and spread working out loud as a practice.

The program

The program I plan on offering includes three elements: training, certification, and support.

The training will be delivered online over the course of a week, with live instruction from me for two hours each day. There will be new material and exercises prepared specifically for the course.

The certification requires that, beyond completing the training, you’ve participated in a circle and have already made an effort to spread the practice (e.g., by delivering this presentation) People who are certified will be listed on workingoutloud.com.

There will also be 6 months of support after the training. This will include, at a minimum, monthly live calls and email support. It’s important that practitioners (and their organizations) know they can get ongoing help as they are implementing their own Working Out Loud programs.

WOL Training and Certification

WOL Training and Certification

Testing the idea

I intend to test this idea by offering the course and certification program for free in January. If it works, we’ll offer it again later in the year, perhaps May and October, for a fee. The tentative date is the week of January 25th, and the times 10a - noon NY time so it overlaps with Europe in the late afternoon. If there’s enough interest, I’ll add a session for APAC timezones later in the year.

Based on this pilot, we may add additional elements like in-person meet-ups, a private community (where people can be more open about work in their organizations), and ways practitioners can contribute by sharing their work and evolving the practice. We may well learn we need to adjust the format significantly.

If you’re interested in joining and shaping this program, please leave a comment below. Given it’s an initial offering, there may only be ten or so openings, and I apologize if we can’t include everyone who wants to participate.

Thank you in advance for your interest and any suggestions you'd like to offer.