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Working Out Loud: networking for improved work

March 25, 2020 | Elin Fredriksson | Change Stories, Innovation, Methods & Tools, Problem-solving, SDC Experiences |

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Sandra (Large)On several occasions during the years 2018/2019, Vanessa, Dunja and myself heard how people in our professional networks enthusiastically talked about the method “Working Out Loud” (WOL).

Sandra Gentizon, SDC

 

 

Indeed, it carries out very attractive values and promises:

– peer support group meetings on a regular basis and thereby creating habits

– investing in relationships and thereby “re-humanizing” work

– gaining visibility and thereby receiving recognition for your work

 

“All of that leads to more motivation for individuals, and to more agility, innovation, and collaboration for an organization.” John Stepper, developer of WOL

WOL seemed to be the Holy Grail of collaborative work, thus we decided to create a circle and go through the 12 weeks process to achieve new goals and, why not, innovate…

 

About WOL Principles

WOL1

About WOL Process

 

  • Create a circle of 4-5 participants: WOL suggests 4-5, we think 4 would be the max. though to keep it timely manageable. We did it in a group of 3 and it was also ok.

 

  • Each participant chooses his/her own goal: To us, this was probably the most difficult part of the process. It seems to be easier to start with a goal to develop/optimize skills or working methods than with an operational/technical goal related to a work-project.

 

  • Plan 12 one hour sessions during 12 weeks: We planned all our meetings ahead of time. Meetings don’t have to happen F2F, we additionally shared ideas over conference calls which works as well. It happened twice that we could not reschedule a meeting and one of us had to catch up with documents online and receive a short briefing. This is not ideal but doable.

 

  • Assign a facilitator & a timekeeper for each meeting: We experienced that it was very helpful and timesaving to make the facilitator have a look at the weekly agenda and to read the documentation before the meeting.

 

About our experience with WOL

WOL2 We liked

 

  • Peer exchanges: It was good to meet and receive external feedbacks.

 

  • Weekly meetings during 12 weeks: The fact that the meeting are planned on a regular basis and on a short time period.

 

  • Taking time to reflect about our work & ourselves: Sit back, slow down, allow ourselves to stop speeding up in achieving tasks, answering mails, “being effective”…

 

  • “Aha-effect”: Sometimes exercises seemed silly, but it appeared they make sense over time.

 

  • Step by step & habits: It helps a lot to break down goals/projects in small steps and to work on habits.

 

WOL3 We disliked

 

  •  Not easy to define an objective: The method is not very clear about what kind of goal/improvement you can achieve. We understood it quite late in the process.

 

  • Strong focus on Social Media: Regarding our objectives or the fact that we wanted to connect with people within our organization, there were too many exercises using social media.

 

  • Influence from North-American culture: When it is about relationships, cultural differences have an impact. If you are aware of where the method comes from, you can adapt it to your own culture.

 

Since it was a positive experience to us, we organized a Lunch & Learn to share this method with our colleague at SDC. Feedbacks were very positive and some participants are willing to create circles.

If you wish to start the WOL experience, all information & material is available online:

English

German

French

Spanish

 

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