From competition to collaboration: How Working Out Loud can rewrite the rules of work

Posted on Posted in Work, Working Out Loud

If you’ve not come across Working Out Loud before then I’d recommend watching this TEDx talk by John Stepper.

The principles and vision behind WOL aren’t new – it’s about working (in the loosest sense of the word) in an open, generous, purposeful and connected way. I like to think I’ve been trying to work in this way for years, but it is harder said than done.

Competition has become ingrained within our institutions, workplaces and culture, at least from my experience within the UK. To be the best, people believe they have to be better than others, and with this comes a need to seek advantage, to work alone and to keep your cards close to your chest. Those who naturally want to share and collaborate are often burnt by bad experiences as the systems they operate in lack the necessary skills, safe space and will for positive and productive collaboration to take place.


Who wrote the rulebook, anyway?

The common story is that people and organisations thrive on competition (this is certainly the neo-liberal story but that is a whole other blog!). I don’t believe this is true. We are smarter together and we can only become our best selves by working with others – sharing, giving, receiving and connecting. Working Out Loud helps us develop these habits so we can rewrite the story of success, the way we want.

Yesterday I came across a comment on LinkedIn that better sums up why Working Out Loud can be a real game changer. It was by Jens Peter Hansen:

“I usually compare Working Out Loud to playing the card game Rummy, but instead of each player acting tactically, everybody places cards on the table as soon as they can form melds, so that other players can extend these melds. As such, the table seen as a whole will score points much quicker.”

Immediately it would move from a game of competition to one of collaboration; one about helping each other rather than seeking to beat people. A team game, instead of every woman or man for themselves.


What could a new rulebook bring us?

I love playing Rummy and liked the analogy. It stimulated my curiosity. It got me thinking, “If Working Out Loud could change a game so drastically; what would be the possibilities for the way we live and work?”. So I went on Jens’ LinkedIn profile. My interest increased as I spotted that he is also a fellow cycling campaigner and political activist/leader. I shared my appreciation for his analogy on LinkedIn and asked him to connect. Why? Because we share a common purpose, it provoked a sense of connection and a wish to somehow reciprocate his gift. Perhaps one day I can share something that may help him to achieve that goal. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. What I do know is that the chances are much higher, now we’ve taken the first step to connecting.

If we want to build a more collaborative, participatory and equal society, we need to rewrite the rules of the game we’re playing, too. That’s why I recommend Working Out Loud to everyone. It might well be the basis of your new rulebook, like it is mine.


If you’d like to know more about Working Out Loud, how it can benefit you and how it can help your organisation achieve its goals, take a look at our Courses page. Our courses are fully-online and available to participants from anywhere in the world.

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