This week we welcome Jane Bozarth as a Guest Writer to TWIST to share her thoughts on the importance of Showing Your Work.
New social tools and comfort with sharing are helping to popularize the idea of showing your work (aka narrating work or working out loud). HR, management, and the learning industry communities increasingly recognize that traditional “knowledge management” processes are just not adequate for dealing with ever-increasing information, remote workers, and global conversations. Knowledge workers document standard operating procedures – then spend their days dealing with exceptions to them.
For practitioners involved in mLearning there are many ways to show work, from writing a quick blog post about managing stakeholder expectations to a Vine demonstrating how to set up your new app to a sketch illustrating how you developed the characters in a new customer support app. It can also be just telling someone about what you did. Showing work is about making thinking, and processes, and decisions, and challenges, and outcomes more visible to others, and helps them see not just what you do but how you get things done.
Why? Well, to reduce duplication of effort. To surface problems that keep repeating. To show how much effort is required for what might seem to others like a simple, straightforward task. To educate others about what you do. For the organization, showing work can help surface and connect talent and talent pools, help ease workload problems, and help with capturing ever-elusive tacit knowledge. Same for colleagues, whose own development can be enhanced and life, with hope, made simpler. And for you? It offers real documentation of your work and talents, not just a list of ‘activities’ on a status report. It helps you journal your development and articulate your decisions for others. And really: If what you’re doing isn’t worth sharing, then why are you doing it?
One of the most common ways of showing our work involves showcasing a finished product; my own experience says that most designers and developers have some sort of portfolio. An excellent opportunity to show your work happens at eLearning Guild events, the next at mLearning DemoFest on June 25 in San Diego. Described as “a collective showcase where conference participants share their latest mobile learning projects,” DemoFest attendees can move from table to table viewing final working products, with a chance to talk with the developer about challenges, decision points, and design decisions. It’s a win-win for everyone concerned.
We hope to see you at DemoFest next month and hope even more to see you as a participant in a future eLearning Guild showcase opportunity. Remember, whatever you’re doing: When you create a new product, or learn a new skill, or solve an old problem, or tease out a decision, ask yourself: “Who else could benefit from this?” and then please – show your work.
Check out my new book Show Your Work: The Payoffs and How-To’s of Working Out Loud for dozens of examples. I had too many examples to fit in the book so some have spilled over onto this Pinterest board. And: there’s a more extensive discussion of showing your work in this month’s “Nuts & Bolts” column. Enjoy.