The other half of Working out Loud: Eyes Wide Open, Brain Switched On

In the Epilogue of Noreena Hertz’s wonderful book ‘Eyes Wide Open’, she exhorts us to keep our 'eyes wide open and our brains switched on’.

Prof. Hertz’s book is all about navigating complexity and making decisions with incomplete information. Her advice, admittedly obvious, is quickly ignored - so her reminder (any reminder really) is a good one. I also think it’s an important piece of ‘the puzzle’ we’re exploring here, so is the focus of my post this week.

But first, let me introduce the concept of ‘Working Out Loud’ (WOL). Coined by Bryce Williams in 2010, WOL is the narration of observable work using social channels (typically digital in nature). The concept has been driven by John Stepper, with John leading the way in showing folks how to do this.

The Working Out Loud concept made it onto a list yesterday, authored by Dion Hinchcliffe, wherein Mr. Hinchcliffe described ‘The required skills for today’s digital workforce’. As Mr. Hinchcliffe describes it: “Working out loud allows one to let the network do the work and breaks down the silos that have rebuilt up with virtual workplaces and today’s far-flung multinational teams.”

Jolly good.

But, only half of the puzzle.

Let’s take the concept of 'Working Out Loud’ to it’s limit. What happens when everyone’s doing it? All ‘work’ happening within an organization would be captured, on a fully searchable and persistent platform. That is probably a good thing, of course, but to be sure it’s the easier side of the equation. The harder question, is Now What … ?

To continue the Ghostbusters themeCome Here Francine.

A couple of months back, I made the following observation:

“Through a combination of thoughtful physical space planning coupled with elements of rich mobile, network, and sensor data we can engineer the randomness of human interaction, in the hope of enriching for serendipitous outcomes. Such outcomes will be driven by engaged actors contextualizing previously unknown but knowable information/data/knowledge.”

See what crept in there: ‘ … engaged actors contextualizing previously unknown but knowable information/data/knowledge.’

If you don’t have curious people, ‘engaged actors’, looking to solve problems to benefit their organization, having all the data, in one place, and searchable, isn’t going to get you where you need to go.

Working Out Loud is an important piece of the puzzle - but having people in an organization looking to explore what you’re curating, in their context, in the service of ‘the mission’ is the missing piece for me.

The biggest omission on that list? Curiosity. An Essential Workplace Skill.

Thanks for listening,



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