Change Stories

Working Out Loud: networking for improved work

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

Rating: none

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


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:






The first stage of Design Thinking: creating empathy

March 05, 2020 Elin Fredriksson Change Stories, Design Thinking, Innovation, Methods & Tools, Problem-solving, SDC Experiences

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Loraine DingFaivre_Jérôme

At cinfo, we use this approach more and more often to tackle different projects. Without being experts, we share our enthusiasm with you – and hope you will give it a try yourself!


Lab office series, episode 2: The Google Effect

June 22, 2017 Natalie Frei Change Stories, Learning Elsewhere

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

quadraticLab offices and coworking spaces are popping up like mushrooms. After the last episode, in which SDC’s Knowledge-Learning-Culture division visited different labs in the international cooperation field, this episode tries to get behind the global lab hype with a focus on philosophy and interior design. As you might have guessed, Google is at the forefront of this trend.

By Natalie Frei, SDC (more…)

Lab office series, episode 1: Discovery Tour

June 13, 2017 Natalie Frei Change Stories, Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

quadraticIn May, a delegation of SDC’s Knowledge-Learning-Culture division went on an expedition to discover new forms of office design and collaboration. Excited about the prospect of reorganizing our division, we set out to seek inspiration in the global lab trend. We visited five organizations with laboratory aspects in the international cooperation field and took notes.

By Natalie Frei, SDC


K4D and the Trouble of Measuring Impact

April 21, 2017 Natalie Frei Change Stories, Learning Elsewhere

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

quadraticAt the beginning of April, Knowledge Managers from diverse backgrounds travelled to Geneva to witness the formal inauguration of the Knowledge for Development (K4D) Partnership and to honor the UN Joint Inspection Unit’s (JIU) report on Knowledge Management in the United Nations system. There was a broad consensus that the lack of ways to measure impact inhibits the potential of knowledge management and that the community needs to raise awareness for the importance of KM in preventing reinventions of the wheel.

By Natalie Frei, SDC


11½ ideas when to use a digital story

July 13, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.6 out of 5


We made stories. Making stories is great learning. This we know, this we experienced. Using stories is the next step. In knowledge communication there are many options to integrate digital stories into sharing and learning processes.  In this blog post we collected 11 ½ ideas for you how to use your story or stories created by your colleagues.

Carmen Eckert, Leonie Pock and Nadia von Holzen, SDC (more…)

Place, people, and the author’s voice: Three key ingredients for storytelling

June 09, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

NadiaSoyolmaa, a great storyteller herself, supported three colleagues from the SDC Cooperation Office in Mongolia to create their very first story. These three short stories demonstrate important key ingredients of making stories: People, place and the author’s voice.

Nadia von Holzen, SDC


Dare to facilitate

May 25, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Facilitation is (also) a question of confidence, of daring to “stand there” and to be the facilitator. But first facilitation is a question of good preparation and of getting the 3 Ps clear: purpose, people and process. The key task of a facilitator is helping the organisers to clarify the purpose of the workshop, to understand people’s needs and questions, and to design a good process that is interactive, relevant and meaningful. 

Nadia von Holzen, SDC 


What does it need to pick up a story and to share it?

May 11, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

NadiaIn a work related context sharing stories happens spontaneously during coffee breaks. But what about more formal settings? Picking up a story during a meeting feels different; we hesitate, think twice, we don’t remember the stories and in the end the story disappears: we share our opinion and make statements. So what does it need to pick up a story? There are two essential conditions for storytelling: first, the belief that stories are valuable and can make a difference; and secondly the opportunity to remember and to share a story.

Nadia von Holzen, SDC


Going digital – a new experience of sharing your story

January 20, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Thinley ChenzomThinley Chenzom, Social Events Manager at the Swiss Cooperation Office in Bhutan, gained a new experience by creating digital stories. She inspired her team to create digital stories for the annual report. This idea resulted into several 3’ stories.

Thinley Chenzom, SDC Bhutan (more…)

Creating a digital story is deep learning

November 11, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

AlfonsoNadiaThe beauty of digital storytelling is that the results are not only visible but also shareable. The beauty is also that the process of creating stories within a 3-days workshop triggers deep reflection and learning for the each storyteller.  

Alfonso Flores, communication specialist working for SDC’s Water and Sanitation programme in Central America shares his personal learning experience.

By Alfonso Flores and Nadia von Holzen, SDC (more…)