Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Readers' Corner: Working out Loud

In this blog post, I’d like to discuss the concept of “Working Out Loud,” a concept I use to capture tacit knowledge

In its most basic form, ”Working Out Loud” shows our work or ideas to others who might benefit from it. It makes the walls between silos more permeable by connecting people through ideas.

For me, when facing a challenge for which I don't have a go-to resource, I ask myself the following four questions to help me decide if I need to capture or document my experience (tacit knowledge) with the purpose of sharing it with others:

  1. Challenge: Is the challenge/problem I am facing also a challenge/problem that others might be facing?
  2. Solution: Is my experience finding a solution to the challenge worth documenting?
  3. Impact: Will capturing my own experience in solving this challenge help others?
  4. Share with the intention of contributing: Will sharing my experience add value to others' experiences and enrich my own experience?

I then take into consideration the filters I apply when capturing my experience. For example, as an agricultural practitioner and certified project manager, I tend to approach activities from those perspectives. As a result, the processes that I tend to document will use agriculture as the main lens followed by other perspectives, such as project management. Other practitioners involved in fields like knowledge management, communications, facilitation, training and so forth will see the learning experience through their own lenses and document their experience from those perspectives. 

Take a look at this “Working out Loud” example shared by the USAID/Armenia Mission: By taking a closer look, you can read that the person who captured this lunchtime learning did answer all of the above questions: 1)  the blog addresses the challenge that the staff is having in learning what others do in their Mission; 2) it documents a solution that worked for their Mission; 3) the writer knows that the Armenia Mission is not the only one experiencing that challenge; and, in the final and most important step, 4) the documented process was shared with others.

The concept of “Working out Loud” can contribute to increasing learning within organizations. However, there has to be a mindful shift in the way we work and some altruism is needed to have the courage to commit to “Working out Loud,” since it often requires acknowledging times of confusion and failure.

There are many resources out there on this concept, but one of my favorites is Jane Bozarth's Show your Work book and the Harold Jarche website.

And in the upcoming months, I will be posting some “Working out Loud” examples. Stay tuned!