Working Out Loud

Working Out Loud is particularly suitable for working in projects. It is not a classical method, but claims to be an attitude to life – with associated practical techniques. The elements are: Making work visible and improving it, making contributions, building social networks and working together purposefully.

Introduction to WOL

Working Out Loud is an approach from the USA, which is particularly suitable for employees in projects. The initial father of the idea was Bryce Williams. John Stepper skillfully generated a movement out of it. It is currently sloshing across the ocean and gaining new users in Germany. This attitude to life also leads to lived values which are not everyday in this combination. Austin Kleon also presents similar approaches in Show Your Work.

The five core elements of Working Out Loud are (as originally listed on workingoutloud.de):

  • Make work visible – publish intermediate results,
  • improve work – cross-connections and feedback help to continuously
  • improve your results, make generous contributions – offer help instead of self-portrayal,
  • build social networks – this is how broad interdisciplinary relationships emerge that advance,
  • work together purposefully – to exploit the full potential of the community.

The application in a company like T-Systems with parallel application of classical project management is presented.

Content are practical examples of the application, the success criteria of the approach and its hurdles in a project organization before.

Working Out Loud in a project management organization

How does an application work in a group like T-Systems using classic project management approaches? Isn’t that contradictory? Employees at ThyssenKrupp, Robert Bosch and T-Systems practice these attitudes and techniques.

„Working Out Loud“ means „publishing“ one’s own work, reporting progress, problems and mistakes and exchanging information with other colleagues so that everyone can benefit from what has been learned. So nothing new you think spontaneously?! A combined application of the core elements of the Working Out Loud approach requires discipline, openness and consistency.

How does this happen in practice in the project?

The exchange in „one’s own juice“, i.e. in one’s own project, is not enough. A first basic requirement is to approach central departments such as those responsible for tools or processes, or in the best case also other projects. Even with positions that are often not very popular, such as central quality management units, project management handbook managers or tool owners, is necessary. An intensive exchange about objectives, application and solution of the upcoming challenge is a must. I have lived this consistently for my current project in which we had to develop a degree of progress and forecast process and tool that did not correspond to the company standard due to special circumstances. Even the sharing of micro results with project colleagues who are not (directly) affected raises undreamt-of potentials. The integration of stakeholders such as clients, users and policymakers is common practice, but only partially increases the potential. Networking also outside the Group for the exchange of ideas is essential. Otherwise, the efficiency and effectiveness of every project will suffer. The process, the specification, the tool, the training and the rollout took an unprecedented three weeks. Just two months after the introduction, what had been created was then presented to the annual group-wide worldwide project manager community and defined as good practice in the sense of „making contributions to the community“. A degree never achieved before in this time span. Strictly speaking, it is not only the speed that is unusual, but also the „overall“ (apart from standard processes and tools). Working Out Loud opens new horizons and brings a fresh vitality and interactivity into and around the projects.

Even in large corporations, this „combined approach“ Working Out Loud is applicable from already known approaches and bears fruit beyond the individual project.

The author presents further practical examples of the application, the success criteria of the Working Out Loud approach and also its hurdles in a project management organization.

Active participation in „WOL with Group Security and NDA“ working group

If you would like to actively participate in a working group on „Working Out Loud with Corporate Security and NDAs“, please contact me.

Presentation

In the spirit of the WOL I have released the presentation of the PM-Forum Version 3.0 again for commenting. Thank you very much for all previous hints about Version 1.0 and 2.0!

Published by

Marc Widmann

My name is Marc Widmann, husband, father of two sons, enthusiastic amateur photographer and lives in Hattersheim near Frankfurt. In my daily work I manage projects and programs in the field of information technology. I coach project managers and audit projects. I have many years of experience in consulting and IT outsourcing with project portfolio management tasks. I particularly enjoy working with international teams at Tata Consultancy Services. I volunteer my time at the Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement (GPM-IPMA) as an assessor in project management personal certification. I myself am also certified as IPMA Level A Certified Project Director (GPM) and IPMA Level B Certified Senior Project Manager (GPM). More about me.

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