Building A Successful Large Cross-Enterprise Working Out Loud Community

Ragnar Heil is one of the Founding Members of the German Working Out Loud Community. We asked Ragnar to describe how that community came about and what is driving its success.


Simon Terry, organizer of internal Working Out Loud Week “WOLWEEK” asked me yesterday in a LinkedIn comment if I would like to share my experiences how to build a successful national Working Out Loud Community like we did in Germany over the last 2 years. Without missing a second I said “yes” because there are no insights shared yet and I am very interested in scaling WOL on a global level and inspiring other countries. What I won`t offer here is a proven sociological theory (also I am very tempted as a Sociologist to do so) or a scientific law. I would rather share our experiences and create a broader picture because it is a complex achievement realized by hundreds of different people.

1 Organize an OnSite Kick Off Meeting

In 2015 Deutsche Bank (credits to Barbara Schmidt and Thomas Olsen) invited us to their Frankfurt HQ where around 16 people from different companies like BOSCH, Siemens, Audi, Continental, IBM, Microsoft and smaller agencies and freelancers came together and formed the community. At that event, the first significant successes were shared (such as BOSCH) and John Stepper joined by Skype Video Conference. We also planned social media activities and other community action items.

2 Create new Website and Social Media Channels

Jochen Adler has registered a domain ( and build a website based on WordPress. We also created a Mailing List (Mailchimp), Yammer Community (Enterprise Social Network from Microsoft Office 365) and Twitter Account. Admin Access to these Accounts was shared to a few others like me. That`s very important to manage workload and make content more diverse.

3 Share, Echo, Amplify and Spread the word

We are not only using these Channels which we created but also collaborate on a daily level in already existing WOL Facebook Groups, use our LinkedIn or Facebook Profiles and Twitter Accounts. We share, like and retweet Content of our national and international community all the time, not only official main events but daily working items. Participation in global weekly Twitter conferences like “ESNChat” (Enterprise Social Network Chat) is part of the way we work and engage. So it`s definitely not about using one single communication channels. It`s about creating an active and engaged community where we have the freedom to use multiple ways to share and express our thoughts. In June, my new book “Social Technologies in Business” is also published in Print and covers Working Out Loud at Telefónica Global and the impact for their Digital Transformation.

4 Share Best Practice of Enterprises in public Social Media Channels 

Many large Companies in Germany are talking in public about their internal transformation and how they live and breathe WOL. Let me show some examples from the last few days:

5 Include WOL into existing Meeting and Conference Formats

In May 2017 Siegfried Lautenbacher and Alexander Kluge have organized to embed WOL into re:publica (8000 people joined this internet conference in Berlin) and also into Digital Workplace Meetup

6 Repeat what went well: Bring community together again and again

So we already have an OnSite Kick Off Meeting? It was a success and started a lot of futher activities and processes? Yes – so we continued to have more meetups, hosted by other companies. I have invited to Microsoft Bad Homburg (close to Frankfurt) and to Munich, other companies like Deutsche Post DHL (credits to Phi Tan) did the same. I am excited to see so many cross-enterprise collaborations: WOL Speakers from other companies are invited to internal Kick Offs or Conferences.

7 Leading Community Members need time for their activities

It`s easy and quick to like a posting on Facebook. If you want to organize a Meetup with 20-50 people, it involves more efforts. Same for conference speeches about WOL in different locations and countries. Here in Germany, we are very lucky that we have passionate members who spend weekends or weekdays by traveling to a conference to share what they have learned and built in their own companies. Big shout out here to Katharina Krentz (BOSCH), Sabine Kluge (SIEMENS) and Harald Schirmer (Continental). Our community would be where it is without you!

8 Don`t cultivate the existing Status Quo – develop the approach and methodology further

Yes, we are proud of what we have achievement with this large movement. Nevertheless, each company, each project, and goal are different. Therefore the circle guides are translated into German (Kudos to Katharina Krentz and Monika Struzek) and modified. We have observed that managers and leadership cannot always join a 12-week-circle, so shorter formats are needed to include them which is needed to scale and motivate employees.

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