It’s International Working Out Loud Week, also known as #WOLWeek. Working Out Loud is a relatively new term for me, picking it up from John Stepper in 2012. I have used the term, narrating your work, which to me is the same thing, though some may differ. My observation is that combining transparency (in the workplace) with narration (of work) results in increased serendipity, or more chances of fortuitous outcomes. My own working out loud on this blog has resulted in speaking opportunities and meeting interesting clients. The more you give, the more you get; though not in any way how you may have expected it.
“The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” – Timbuk3
Many of today’s larger companies have overly complicated, hierarchical structures. As they grew to their current size, control processes were put in place to create efficiencies. To ensure reliable operations and avoid risk, work became standardized. New layers of supervision appeared, more silos were created, and knowledge acquisition was formalized, all in an attempt to gain efficiency through specialization. Support departments, like human resources, were added to manage the resulting complicated structure. (more…)
Here are some observations and insights that were shared on social media this past fortnight. I call these Friday’s Finds.
In business, attention is paid to innovative individuals, especially those who go on to become captains of industry. But of more importance is the ability of the network (society, organization, company) to stay connected to its collective knowledge in order to keep innovating. Just think how quickly an organization would its lose collective knowledge if people did not share their knowledge. What about an entire society?
You start out with two genetically well-intermixed peoples. Tasmania’s actually connected to mainland Australia so it’s just a peninsula. Then about 10,000 years ago, the environment changes, it gets warmer and the Bass Strait floods, so this cuts off Tasmania from the rest of Australia, and it’s at that point that they begin to have this technological downturn. You can show that this is the kind of thing you’d expect if societies are like brains in the sense that they store information as a group and that when someone learns, they’re learning from the most successful member, and that information is being passed from different communities, and the larger the population, the more different minds you have working on the problem.
If your number of minds working on the problem gets small enough, you can actually begin to lose information. There’s a steady state level of information that depends on the size of your population and the interconnectedness. It also depends on the innovativeness of your individuals, but that has a relatively small effect compared to the effect of being well interconnected and having a large population. – How Culture Drove Human Evolution
Working out loud is a way to ensure others know what you are doing and to be conscious of your own work. It is being mindful of your work and how it may influence others. But working out loud is nothing if there is no time taken for reflection. Learning out loud takes you to a different level; one that may seem even more precarious. It’s sharing your half-baked ideas with the world. But these ideas, combined with others over time, can build a resilient web of innovation.
Working out loud connect us as professionals and humans. It is a highly social activity. It also exposes us, so it requires trust. While we may get interesting ideas from our informal networks, such as on social media, we still need trusted spaces to test things out. A place to test new ideas is often the missing link between doing work and leisure time. We may see something interesting while engaging on social media at night, but when it comes time to go to work, there is no easy way to make the connection. At work we need to stay focused. We might have a chance for a quick chat over lunch, but for the most part we focus on getting things done. (more…)