The start of a year working out loud

Imagine publishing one Tweet a day committing yourself publicly to completing certain tasks as you go about your life as a comms professional.

Well wonder no more as for one person that’s the reality of her working life and today she writes for my blog to share what that’s like.

There’s a name for this – working out loud. If you’ve not come across it before I recommend reading this blog post by John Stepper @JohnStepper.

Working out loud as a phrase was coined by Bryce Williams a few years back and he described it with a simple formula:

Working Out Loud = Observable Work + Narrating Your Work

John Stepper says: “When it comes to career opportunities, working out loud is the great equaliser. It enables everyone to demonstrate what they can do and opens up access to people and possibilities. It’s not just for senior management or for extroverts. If you work, then working out loud is for you.” (Tweet this)

He’s written a book called Working Out Loud and it’s due to hit the shelves in a couple of months, I’ll keep you posted.

But for now, let’s look at a real example – over to you Lauren…

The start of a year working out loud

This is the story of how I, @laurennotes, unwittingly committed myself to narrating an entire year of my professional life through just one summary Tweet per day.

Just three weeks and it’s already become a journey of personal discovery. (Tweet this)

LaurenNoakesBefore I explain let me introduce myself. I’m Lauren Noakes (pictured) and at the Edinburgh office of the British Geological Survey (BGS), a publicly funded earth science research centre, I’m the one woman communications team.

Led by the team in our Nottingham HQ, I manage the social media channels, deputise the newly formed Internal Communications team and carry out the usual mix of external corporate communication tasks across BGS.

The tale begins on 5 January 2015, the caffeine is kicking in and I’m waking up to a great day at work. Enthusiasm for 2015 is brimming over in the office and I’ve got some lovely feedback and praise.

It’s a day full of fist bumps and air punches. But in my exuberance to share this personal positivity (where else but on Twitter) I accidently created a monster.

Anyone touched by OLM (Obsessive List Making) will understand that a Day 1 Tweet can only be followed by a Day 2 Tweet.

Whilst born of positivity the #workdiary quickly became more than a place to brag about praise, it became a tool to break apart the day, a space to think about priorities and self-reflect.

I’m getting a better instinct for what has been important throughout the day and am using this to help shape the next day’s priorities. (Yes sometimes new shoes are a priority for staying human and sane at work).

Already by reviewing my Tweets I see how valuable the time I spend building trust and relationships through face-to-face conversations is. Sometimes you forget, amid deadlines and project objectives, how the simple things matter.

The little five-minute jobs and the ‘can you just do this’ tasks, have as much potential for impact as 3 hour planning meetings.

In the long-term I believe these Tweets could act like an audit trail, plotting a route from small interactions and communications to successful achievement of corporate objectives. This can feed back into our methods, build up successful case studies and support best practice. It might be a Twitter project but why not dream big?

Not only can my mum see my #workdiary (and so far she’s my biggest engager) but so too can my line manager, my boss, their boss, etc. Assuming lines of communication are good between us my daily activities shouldn’t come as a surprise, nor should my gratitude or thanks.

Yet I see only positives, especially as a lone-worker, in using #workdiary as a means to enforce the team high-five and celebrate when we’ve done a good job. Morale (and Dr Who) is sometimes the only thing that can keep you going through a busy day.

A surprising but wondrous effect of the #workdiary has been the increased engagement with you, the online comms community. By having an excuse to swap the corporate voice for my own I’m able to catch real-time discussions and hot-off-the-press blogs.

I’m better read and better placed to react to new practices, technologies and methods thanks to seeing your Tweets. I can now identify much discussed trends evolving in my own job, for example how external channels are being use to disseminate internal messages to stakeholders and staff.

Hopefully continuing the #workdiary will allow me to explore the overlaps in my own roles and enable me to better use our channels to communicate.

On the negative side this small (cyber)space in which to reflect has unleashed a massive spew of questions: is there a better way to record this daily qualitative feedback, maybe against corporate objectives?

How would I fit this into existing quantitative metric templates? Is it valuable or is more paperwork counterproductive? How do I maintain transparency when I deal in confidentiality? Can I really keep this up for 203 more days? Do I really need to? Have I lost my mind?

Drop by to see me on Twitter @laurennotes and check out the evolution of the #workdiary. 28420 characters to go but I’m positive; after all it’s outlived the New Year diet and dry January. Now pass me my gin and be gone with you.

Post author: Lauren Noakes.

Thank you for sharing your diary Lauren. I will be sure to follow-up throughout the year to see how you’re getting on.

Have you considered doing something like this?

Do check out John’s blog I mentioned above to find out more about working out loud.

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I’ve published 100+ articles written by comms pros over the years. If you have a story to share, do please check out my guest article guidelines and get in touch with your idea as you could see your name here.


First published on All Things IC blog 22 January 2015.

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