Harald Schirmer - es kommt nicht nur darauf an, was wir tun, sondern WIE wir es tun!

Working Out Loud in practice

WOL - Blick über die Schulter
WOL – Blick über die Schulter

After privately and in business context testing various ways on how „Working Out Loud“ as a new way of Organizational Learning can be used, here are some first examples and „lessons learned“ – combined with some thoughts where this could develop too. To start with an overall impression – WOL has enormous potential for engagement, receiving appreciation and most important an extra-ordinary „real life“ and „real time“ learning experience.

Working Out Loud is in my eyes one great answer to our fast developing environment, where regular learning setups come to their limits. It is fast, direct, almost no preparation needed, most relevant and authentic, valuable for both sides and depending on the setup very sustainable (re-usable) – perfect for improvement, networking and constant learning.

This is nothing really new – in Generations we used to learn and improve by looking over others shoulders – now with the possibilities of „Digital Transformation“ and its tools, we can are no longer limited by being personally there, or living in the same „time zone“… it is scalable now!


  1. Working Out Loud via Status Updates
  2. Working Out Loud Session of Experts
  3. Working Out Loud of a „Beginner“
    Working Out Loud of „Anyone“
  4. Working Out Loud – personal experience
  5. Shop floor (production) WOL  with „Google Glasses“
    Common tips for practicing


Scenario 1: Working Out Loud via Status Updates (like done on Twitter)

Being on a business trip, a conference or posting live updates during any kind of process – enables people to follow it in real time. Depending on the media competence (and resources) this can be done in various ways – and virtually by anyone.


  • Texting short status updates via SmartPhone App, WebInterface – using a certain TAG (compare with Twitter Wall)
  • Live Blogging including instant photos, summaries and/or linking/uploading presentations (e.g. on Events)
  • recording video snippets to give even more surrounding information – to create an even better experience
  • to promote it is recommended to share a „combining “ TAG upfront, which can be followed
  • when taking photos or videos – ASK before – get permission from people – inform about your action


  • once promotion is done well, you can see „viral“ effects, if the topic is relevant or very engaging – reaching bigger audiences
  • after a while you can see „online“ followers to like and comment the status updates – as a signal of getting involved (in parallel creating more and more followers by sharing this with their networks)
  • depending on the quality of the content, photos/videos – typical barriers can be lowered – make them look good!
  • very little effort, very sustainable – high reach – ideally done as a group (different perspectives)

See also some of my „live“ reviews from various conferences:


Scenario 2: Working Out Loud Session of Experts

Experts typically know what they are doing, they are experienced in their process flow and create high quality results. This is maybe the most obvious setting to have them sharing their work in a Working Out Loud session.


  • Expert schedules a timeframe, where he/she is sharing his/her screen (promotion)
  • a parallel phone conference enables explaining or Q&A at the end
  • After a VERY brief intro and welcome the expert starts directly (or continues) with the topic
  • It is very helpful, if the expert talks about „what and why“ things are done
  • Experienced or confident experts allow questions in between – depending on the amount of followers (good experience up to 30 people)
  • A short feedback round at the end allow the followers to show their appreciation (can also be done via likes or comments in the ESN (Enterprise Social Network))


  • do not under-estimate the emotional hurdle to have people watching every move of your mouse – it is a big challenge for the expert
  • sharing the process of real work – creates immediately a completely different „trust-level“ compared to class room situations with „sample projects“
  • It seems that the followers are „instantly“ start learning – without the typical questions „is this relevant, real, needed, artificial…
  • the appreciation of the followers are a lot bigger than in regular training calls – the openness is highly valued and expressed


Scenario 3: Working Out Loud of a „Beginner“

Having someone (or yourself) sharing the first steps in a new tool or process – and having the tool responsible’s taking a „silent“ look over the shoulder is perfect to verify the so often promised „self explaining“ or „easy to use“ promise. The experts can learn a big deal about their products by watching starters taking their first steps around – how long does it take, where do they search (move their mouse) for functions, what questions do they ask?…


  • Important! this only works in a positive culture, where this openness of the „starter“ is highly valued (it must not end in justifying, excusing….)
  • Starter schedules a WOL session to practice the new environment, tool or process
  • Ideally there is a good mix of other starters, followers and experts
  • The goal is to support the starter in his/her first steps AFTER he/she tried to find their own way (best to have a signal: e.g. now please help!)


  • in this setup both sides are able to learn a lot from each other – very fast
  • watching someone dealing with a new process/tool in real life is so much more authentic than having a group or people doing test on their own
  • no reporting needed – the results are immediately visible and „open“ (listening) experts can drive their conclusions to improvements directly (for this more than one session is recommended)
  • the „starter“ receives VIP support and achieves good results immediately  (getting things done while learning)
  • it all depends on the „Appreciation“ shown by all participants – once this is on eye level – it just works great
  • it’s also a great „For One Another“ experience, which connects people across functions


Scenario 2 – 3: Working Out Loud of „Anyone“

Testing the two „extremes“ of an expert or an absolute beginner offered the experience if there are certain limitations – which seem not to be. As a conclusion (and tested as well) „Anyone“ in between being a starter or an expert will also gain from Working Out Loud, as well as the followers. It is „giving“ and „taking“ = sharing, networking, giving advice, taking it – growing together … developing  a trust based – open feedback culture, where „learning“ becomes part of the daily routine.


Scenario 4: Working Out Loud – personal experience

You can also do this by having all „followers“ in one room and instead of giving a training – working out loud in front of the others around you. Being a good role model we demonstrate „live“ how we ourselves are actually doing things…


  • Use an existing meeting or invite for a session into a room equipped with a beamer
  • recommendation to start with short sessions – not exceeding 30 Minutes (so it does not get boring for participants)
  • You can also use 2 Beamers to show live collaboration in real time: this setup is also ideal to demonstrate what happens on the other end – or as a group experience „I do this – and this happens on your side“ – since we usually only see what happens on our side (also perfect to experience the performance or time delay) … building trust into the systems


  • builds confidence in the systems „or“ shows weaknesses to be improved
  • creates a team spirit – since all are on eye level and actions or results can be directly discussed
  • very fast to find „ideal ways“ to deal with new situations
  • sustainable learning method by group experience including „visible“ work result(s) for later review


Scenario 5: Shop floor (production) WOL  with „Google Glasses“ – future setup (technically possible today)

A new machine or process should be implemented or trained in one location – than transferred to another location / or recorded for later operators. Therefor the process is streamed or recorded via Google Glasses (or similar product) in real environment – while the operator is explaining what he/she is doing (as expert) or like in scenario 3 with support of a team in the background to test a new setup.


  • Make sure this setup is verified by works council, security and legal department because it is touching quite some „personal and law issues“
  • The operator used Google Glasses to take a video of what he/she is doing – while receiving instructions via screen (also possible with headset to communicate)
  • Video is live-streamed or recorded and combined with the instructions and discussion


  • this can be done starting with 2 people as a „guided“ work setup (e.g. across locations)
  • great for training purposes and reviewing the process later (e.g. for detail analysis)
  • possibility to involve bigger groups of people, who are typically not able to be personally in production (development, quality, hr, controlling, it…)
  • creates a whole new „holistic“ experience and basis for more practical „real life“ discussions
  • enables learning from each other across countries, functions and hierarchy levels



Common Tips for practicing:

  • make sure there is no „force“ behind being transparent about this! (I would consider this as a number one mis-use) „Sharing“ is voluntary!!
  • have a global, open calendar, where everyone can enter their „Working Out Loud“ session
  • start with short sessions of 15 Minutes
  • it is boring to watch someone doing the same things over and over – (repeating short processes are not very compelling)
  • if the sharing person is confident – accompany it with the possibility to give live feedback or asking questions
  • make sure to leave space for a short feedback round – appreciation is the food for the sharing person
  • ensure that the technical infrastructure is known and working well (the screen sharing software should not steal focus)
  • use only tools/media, which people are confident with (WOL via VIDEO is great but still requires advanced media skills)
  • practice first with people you know – to get a feeling what it is like



We just got started but our first results are more than promising – I personally did not expect such great feedback and appreciation. My biggest learning (once again) – we many times think of the big issues – but the many little things make the great difference. In my working out loud sessions I received quite some feedback about actions, tiny processes which seemed completely „natural“ to me and „not worth mentioning“… being the „great to know“ learnings for others.

In a positive environment the fear from blaming yourself changes very quickly turns into fun improving together – all the sudden arguing about what does not work changes into appreciating all the personal tips, tricks and work arounds.

For the future of WOL I would also expect it to work great for personal positioning, building valuable networks, fostering cross functional innovation, dramatic increase in product development (once practiced across company boarders – e.g. supplier and customers), building trusted relationships, collaboration in between business and universities, improving beta testing and engaging large groups for early release involvement- as well as creating a positive environment for „appetite for change“ (as it can be experienced in a positive attitude)

This is also why I love to share this experience here – to make you curious of trying Working Out Loud – it is absolutely worth trying!!






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11 Antworten

  1. […] Beiträge entstanden, die Lernen, Austausch und #WirGewinnt auf ein völlig neues Level heben. Die Working Out Loud Bewegung hat sicher dazu beigetragen, dass sich immer mehr […]

  2. […] … by showing appreciation, asking questions also critical feedback is great or saying „Thank You“ or „Well done“ …this is so engaging! Also supporting with your profession or competence to further develop the content is a great feedback. (see also Working Out Loud) […]

  3. […] Working Out Loud in der Praxis […]

  4. […] innerhalb von Organisationen ist die transparente Kommunikation auf dem Vormarsch – ob durch Working Out Loud, Digitale Transformation, Kundenbindung, Attraktivitätssteigerung oder einfach zur nachhaltigeren […]

  5. […] mentioned in my articles before „Working Out Loud in practice“ and „WOL – der digitale Blick über die Schulter“ I really love this open […]

  6. […] Working Out Loud in practice | Harald Schirmer “After privately and in business context testing various ways on how “Working Out Loud” as a new way of Organizational Learning can be used, here are some first examples and “lessons learned” – combined with some thoughts where this could develop too.” […]

  7. […] 1. Working Out Loud via Status Updates 2. Working Out Loud Session of Experts 3. Working Out Loud of a “Beginner” Working Out Loud of “Anyone” 4. Working Out Loud – personal experience 5. Shop floor (production) WOL with “Google Glasses” Harald Schirmer, Blog, 6. Mai 2015 […]

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