man-with-megaphoneMore and more frequently, ArchiTECH Solutions (ATS) is being asked to provide community “sharing” capabilities as part of a technical solution (usually a BPM). The trend is becoming popular within the government arena in addition to the private sector. The reason? The concept is gaining popularity due, in part, to the “Work Out Loud” movement, as well as to our ubiquitous exposure to social media and the ease of sharing. “Show Your Work” is an associated concept that also enables community sharing activities in the workplace to promote innovation, creative problem solving, team connectivity, traceability, collaboration, knowledge transfer, and real-time learning.

One of the more popular proponents of working out loud is John Stepper. In his book, “Working Out Loud for a Better Career and Life,” he explains how to Work Out Loud and why we all should be doing it. Stepper also writes a popular blog that offers additional guidance to enact working out loud practices in the day to day. He is consistent in promoting the practice as the best way to achieve a working environment that provides the kind of feedback that produces better working relationships and outcomes of the working process.

The basic idea is to 1. Make your work visible, 2. Make work better, 3. Lead with generosity, 4. Build a social network, and 5. Make it all purposeful (i.e., set some goals). The suggestion here is that making a narrative of your work, sharing, creating a community of common interests, and driving it toward some goal will ultimately make work more meaningful and fulfilling. It is an intent-driven approach to expanding communication that creates a culture of openness.  It does not require a megaphone, although that may seem like the only way to be heard at work.

The greatest benefit that showing your work can have within an organization is to break information out of silos. “Silo” may seem like an over-used term, but most organizational charts are literally broken into columns wherein Jack in Accounting has no real need to communicate with Mary over in Marketing. They may have never met. But in reality, what happens if Jack and Mary are both considering ways to capture lessons learned for budgeting? They havecommunication between silos a common (and useful) interest in the same subject matter that can benefit the organization, but is there any easy way for them to connect with each other given their day to day responsibilities and workload? Not really. Enabling these employees to “work out loud” and “show their work” could make a positive impact across several departments in this example. If only they had a place in common to share such information. Hm.

Jane Bozarth, author of “Show Your Work: The Payoffs and How-To’s of Working Out Loud,” explains that, “the trick is finding ways to get it (showing your work) into your workflow—making it part of everyday practice without it being an onerous chore.” She also indicates that this isn’t a new concept, nor is it a mystical one…we all sort of already know how to do it—it’s innate in us ever since our 3rd grade math teachers made us show our work on homework and tests. Additionally, since most of us are adept at sharing via social media, we have the knowhow and wherewithal to interact with each other in this way, capturing the most useful knowledge that often gets lost with fast-paced projects, day-to-day work, and employee turn-over.

When you adopt a work out loud collaboration in the workplace, “social tools can be used to bring meaning, process, and organizational value to the front of our conversations at work” (Marcia Conner). “Social learning is a fundamental shift in how people work, leveraging how we have always worked, now with new, more humanizing tools, accelerating individual and collective reach, giving us the resources to create the organization, and the world, we want to live in.” (from The New Social Learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work. 2nd Edition). In short, everyone has something to gain from the open dialogue of working out loud and showing your work. Hence, why it is becoming a common requirement for new systems to support.

project team“Working out loud is more than just sharing information. I see it as a key to building and strengthening relationships, helping to identify the right connections, and having the right conversations that can open the door to co-creation,” says Sheila Babnis, Global Head of Strategic Innovation at Roche. This evidence supports Stepper’s original posit that work can be better when it is out loud. If it works for a Fortune 500 company, it can work anywhere.

The good news is that BPM platforms are uniquely equipped to support Working Out Loud. Pega provides this capacity with its Knowledge Management tool (Pega KM), allowing users to author and publish content to an in-house repository, viewable by other users, and also providing a means for feedback via comments and ratings. Appian’s BPM solution enables the streamlining of enterprise collaboration and facilitation of knowledge management, providing a community-oriented approach to building professional forums.

And even more good news is that ATS has a vast amount of Pega and Appian experience. If you are looking to create a more collaborative “working out loud” community in your office, or for your client, contact us for more information at orangebpm@architechsolutions.com or by phone at 703-972-9155.

By Amy Barth, Sr. Business Architect at ATS.