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Does Working Out Loud Inspire Innovation?

“Working out loud is an approach to building relationships that can help you in some way. It’s a practice that combines conventional wisdom about relationships with modern ways to reach and engage people. When you work out loud, you feel good and empowered at the same time.”

— John Stepper, 2016

Working out loud is gaining popularity amongst many businesses, not just because their human resources are mobile, increasingly being spread across geographical boundaries, but also as a nod to collaborative working with like minded individuals to solve widespread problems

. Two heads are better than one, so we decided what better subject to talk about for this month’s #blabchat — and seeing as it was our busiest one yet, it seems that this was a subject people were only to eager to discuss.

It seems that many of us agreed with John Stepper’s definition above in terms of building relationships to share questions, solve problems and sense check, but the conversation also threw in considerations around being a great way to allow more introverted individuals a platform to challenge and collaborate without being overshadowed or intimidated by extroverted colleagues (thanks @angbroadbridge!).

It was also great that everyone seemed on board with the idea that it is so much more than just broadcasting a message — Shirley is absolutely right in that a lot of companies get this confused, so there was an appreciation that maybe there is some way to go before this concept is one that people understand fully (see also Agile Working, Blockchain, etc — these concepts have been around for ages, but people still use them in the wrong format!)

My forthrightness has got me into hot water before, but it seems the times are changing and people agree that honesty and openness have a place in business like never before. My motto has always been that I will only put stuff out there I would be prepared to say to someone in person and you need to adopt a common sense approach with this.

As Amy says, its very rare that anyone is generating a brand new idea, as we are merely recycling something someone has already had, and there is the very real danger that the more you hide, the more people fill in the blanks themselves, which I have witnessed in previous roles can be far more dangerous that just being up front in the first place.

Obviously there are some exceptions. Talking about something that is going to lead to potential job losses? Don’t hide it but censor what you are putting out there. Anything confidential, subject to an NDA or illegal? Don’t put it there in the first place and have a word with yourself for even considering it!

It may also depend on the sector in which you operate — as Tris very rightly points out, there are some companies for whom working out loud would equal corporate suicide as the source of their competitive advantage is their product designs, innovations, etc. Sometimes, some things need to be left out, but a greater knowledge of your organisation, stakeholders and sector will ensure you make the right decision in this regard and don’t end up bankrupt.

Need I say more? The important thing is to recognise these within your own organisations and challenge some of the assumptions but also provide colleagues with a safe environment and support with which to get comfortable with this way of working. It’s not for everyone and organisational culture also plays a bit part in facilitating this.

In summary, the general consensus was that working out loud is great when deployed in the right context and within the right environment but it needs to be part of your working culture and not an afterthought as it in itself takes time and discipline to make sure your #wol strategies are a success!

@ChelleKButler

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Originally published at www.bromfordlab.com.

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