Isabel De Clercq is a Trendcatcher, Firestarter and Sparkle Architect for Kluwer Opleidingen, part of Wolters Kluwer. Isabel has been a huge advocate for Working Out Loud in Europe.
You tweeted that Working Out Loud has strong positive effects at an individual and an organizational level. Can you explain more?
If you look at the individual, Working Out Loud is a beautiful practice. By showing our work, we build up a strong network. We are surrounded by people more intelligent than us. It enables us to be inspired, to learn and to grow as a professional. Importantly it develops our self-management skills.
I think one other personal benefit is that it helps us to be proactive in feedback loops. We have all experienced how weird it can feel to give feedback to a manager, but Working Out Loud opens up this great value of peer-to-peer coaching and encourages us to ask for feedback from our network.
I have seen those feedback loops also loop into encouraging action, because we commit visibly to ideas and goals to our peers. What are the organizational benefits?
Working Out Loud is a leveler for an organization. It promotes a fast exchange of ideas and expertise across all businesses and silos. Importantly, Working Out Loud fosters an external view and thus a dialogue with peers from other organizations. When you start a conversation out loud, you must be open to feedback.
You have said that Working Out Loud is not self-evident. What do you mean by that?
I believe knowledge sharing is a vital catalyst of organizational change. Working Out Loud as a practice fosters individual and organizational change. I thought it would have been obvious and rather easy to implement. But it’s not. Working Out Loud requires mindsets that people are not used to using.
There is a mindset of being prepared to be vulnerable. We are used to showing that we have made something or have the answer. Working Out Loud shows we are looking for the right answer.
Secondly, Working Out Loud asks us to look beyond our place in the hierarchy to our position as a node in a network. We have to have a different mindset to see the network and to add value to it.
I find that these mindsets help people to find their voice and foster action. It is not a question of different generations. It is driven more by how people see their work.
What kinds of organizations will get Working Out Loud easier?
Kotter’s change management approach talks about a sense of urgency for change. I think this is important for an organization to adopt Working Out Loud. When you talk to Bosch who have had success with Working Out Loud, they have a clear rationale for adopting it. They want to be a connected and agile company in order to be able to give the best answer to their customers. Collaboration and Working Out Loud are obvious ways to realize these goals.
Many organizations don’t feel threatened yet because they haven’t realized the change going on. Maybe their view is still too internally focused to see what is shaking up our business context. It’s all about speed, customer centricity and digital. It’s about blurring boundaries between organizations. It’s about collaboration with peers and other organizations in learning eco-systems. It’s about social enabling digitization.
Why do you advocate Working Out Loud as a essential practice of a digital workforce?
Dion Hinchcliffe has spoken about Working Out Loud as one of the key skills in a digital workforce. The mindset and soft skills of digital working are important. Working Out Loud supports these:
- Being a reflective practitioner: Making the time to reflect on work is a crucial skill for today’s digital workforce and it need not feel like an activity on top of everything else.
- Digital identity: Working Out Loud helps people shape their identity online and making it meaningful to their work.
- Practicing feedback: as we have discussed Working Out Loud encourages more engagement with feedback.
- Agile Learner: Working Out Loud helps people to be more eager to develop, to take a self-managing approach to their learning
- Playful attitude towards technology: Working Out Loud encourages people to use social media and social technologies. And thus to take advantage of the fun and the empowerment of the digital workplace.