Working Out Loud Cannot be Automated

Working Out loud
Image by Eric Ziegler

Not sure how I ended reading an old post by +Bertrand Duperrin but I did. Maybe something was calling to me. Maybe it is just purely coincidence that I re-read his blog post. Either way, it has triggered me to write a blog post for the first time in several months. Let’s dig in.

Bertrand Duperrin, posted a blog post back in August of 2012 called Employees don’t have time to waste narrating their work. What caught my eye originally was the title. First reaction, huh? You have to be kidding me. Bertand might be just trying to be sensationalistic with his title, I am not sure. But it did catch my eye and cause me to read his blog post. While the title is interesting, I have to say that the blog post hits a nerve. Bertrand starts his blog post with a concept that I agree with …

It’s impossible to think about emergent collaboration and self-organized structures without visibility on others’ work.

This first sentence makes me think of +Change Agents Worldwide (@chagww, #CAWW). Why? #CAWW is a self organized emergent collaboration organization that is about helping individuals, teams, companies, employees, etc. be more effective. #CAWW works as a network of individuals that interact, share, and cooperate and collaborate on different topics and ideas, always trying to improve upon ideas that will help organizations be more effective. It is almost like he wrote this sentence with the concept of #CAWW in mind.

In Bertrand’s 3rd paragraph he continues down the same path by stating ….

collaboration, cooperation, problem solving and even innovation requires something to be shared so trigger the dynamic. Moreover, people often don’t realize they can be helped : sometimes we believe we’re doing right while we’re doing wrong, we’re doing right while we could do better, differently.

While the first sentence could be interpreted several ways, this statement does not align with the title at all. Only after you get more than half way through the blog post do you start to see where the title becomes relevant. I believe this statement best summarizes the rest of the blog:

if people’s work’s worth being narrated, people should not always be the narrator. Their time is too precious to ask them to play the role of transponders.

So now I get it. People’s time are too important to waste on working out loud (#WOL). Bertrand continues and discusses the idea of having systems do the narrating by automatically creating activities in an activity stream – weekly reports, updates to profiles, etc. I understand where he is going, but I think this concept misses the importance of working out loud (#WOL).

What do I believe? The idea of working out loud is not about the automated interactions? There is some value, but the biggest value is sharing information in a way a system can never do. Sharing information includes asking questions or putting a thought out that could trigger a thought by someone else. Automatic system updates are too prescribed to cause an emotional reaction by the receiver and because of that, the value it just not as high.

I will say though, I do agree with his concept of having people jump out of their every day work systems to work out loud is not effective. To get people to be most effective, the system to work out loud needs to be integrated into the systems they work in every day.

Automatic system updates are the antithesis of what social networks are about. While an automatic update might provide value, they do not deliver come anywhere close to providing the same amount of value as working out loud.

cross-posted from Eric Ziegler’s blog