I have written a lot of transparent work and learning practices on this blog over the years so I thought I’d revisit the theme again.
The reason for this was a recent Twitter conversation started by a question asked by Jayne Davids (@Jaynedavids) who is my ‘go to’ expert in my Personal Learning Network on anything to do with Camtasia. (If you don’t follow Jayne, I highly recommend that you do especially if you want to learn how to use this editing software).
She asked the following question to her Twitter network:
Immediately I jumped at the chance because in my mind, I thought I would be able to watch the Camtasia expert in the process of a project.
I could learn so much from learning about how she approaches a project, why she does what she does in Camtasia and general thinking about all the ‘middle stuff’ that no one talks about such as the thinking, the questions, the ‘oh what happens if I do this?” and talking through all the possibilities.
For me, this is what I love.
It’s as if you’re given the wonderful opportunity to glimpse inside the mind of people in your personal learning network and not only learn what they do what they do – and then you do it but something even more wonderful than that – the WHY.
It reminded me of how gamers learn. Gamers would record their entire game play and then they’d explain, talk through their play.
However, I responded to Jayne in a way that may have been naive without realising that by asking for the ‘mistakes out loud’ that I may have come across as insensitive which I did not mean to be.
In my head, I was thinking like a ‘gamer’ that I’d be watching Jayne as she worked through her project and in so doing, I’d get glimpses on what I could learn – and apply – to my own improvement of the editing process on Camtasia.
Is Working Out Loud Risky?
It got me thinking that in work nowadays, we don’t always share our process of thinking and working to others in our teams.
I have been told that Working Out Loud can be dangerous and indeed, scary.
Why would you share your thinking and process for others to learn or steal from?
Also, working out loud may mean that it comes across that you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you’re an expert in that area, or if you have your own business, then working through your process openly and transparently may as well be the death of your business or your career!
Let’s not forget that working out loud, showing your thinking, mistakes, trials and tests warts and all, puts you into a vulnerable position in front of others.
(Let’s not forget that without mistakes, there is no learning. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning so I don’t understand why there’s such a stigma around mistakes).
I understand these reasons wholeheartedly. After all, I have swayed from showing and sharing my work and learning openly to not at all because you put yourself into a vulnerable position which then in turn ends up hurting you in some way.
However, I cannot deny how much I have learned (and RESPECTED) those who put these excuses aside and then show and share their work openly and transparently.
To me, these are the people who are going beyond the ‘end result’ (the outcome, perfection) and instead, love the process.
To them, their work is never finished, it can always be improved upon and it’s not perfect.
Also, they don’t think of their work in terms of building a business, finding new subscribers, or seeking out new work opportunities. Their end-result is learning more about themselves and their craft.
In my head, these people already ARE the experts because they’re taking the time to IMPROVE their thinking and their work (and they’re doing it consistently). They are continually learning – they see themselves as learners.
The trust I have with these people far supersedes those who don’t do this because there’s something more ‘idealistic’ (I don’t know if this is the right term) and far more altruistic.
Learning From People Outside Your Field
Yesterday I was watching this video of South Korean artist Kim Jung Gi. Now, I don’t want to learn how to draw. Instead, I was fascinated by HOW he draws and what lessons I can LEARN and APPLY to my own contexts. Gamers and artists are really great at showing and sharing their work to their communities and I have found that by going outside my own networks that I learn so much from them.
Just by watching Kim Jung Gi, I learned the importance of perspective NOT how to draw. The latter was not my intention.
I realised that I’m always fascinated by their PROCESSES. This is the ‘working and learning out loud’.
However, to others who don’t understand my fascination with the process, I come across as someone who may be a tad scattergun in their approach.
- Why am I wasting time watching videos of artists? (I am not an artist).
- Why am I watching videos on how gamers record their game play? (I am not a gamer).
- Why am I reading historical texts? (I am not a historian)
What I’m doing is finding the process and then seeing what I can learn from it myself.
- What are they doing differently?
- How can I apply this to my own work?
- Why did they use those tools?
People who show and share their work are also fearless people who are sharing their work – but not for an audience – for themselves. (that’s the difference). If their community gets value from what they’re sharing, that’s fantastic too.
Working out loud for me means…
- I need to feel as if I’m an OBSERVER to their thinking process – not their student. I don’t want to be lectured to or told I need to do things in certain ways ONLY, I want them to ENCOURAGE my creativity – not to stifle it.
- I need to feel as if I’m the GUIDE to changing my own process – not them. That is, they give me the confidence to experiment and do another or new way to what they’ve shown me because this makes learning novel and new – hence more memorable and it sticks for me.
- I need to then SHARE what I learned to others to observe me (the cycle repeats)
So working out loud, if I can change the perspective here, is as much about the person doing it AS IT IS for the observer watching them.
It’s the observer then becomes an active participant to learning IF they decide to apply what they saw to their own context and then share it to others too.