Sal leads creative teams in making TV documentaries. I told him about the benefits of working more openly -- out loud -- and he put his thumb and index finger to his chin in contemplation. Let's just say he was skeptical.

Months later he confessed that he tried what I suggested and was pleasantly surprised by the results. He began with a mandate to his team: everyone must work in the cloud (enabled by innovative software that allows for rendering and editing film rushes online). Some were reluctant, but soon his team was managing their time more efficiently, working better together, and coming up with (and executing) sharper ideas. Getting early input from teammates proved much more valuable than striving for a perfect, or even presentable, film edit to impress one other.

By defaulting to working out loud you'll discover that your team is more productive, collaborative, and in many cases -- much more creative.

Gaining Real-time Feedback

In many of Sal's documentaries, there are several interviewees whose identities must remain confidential and other film segments that must be removed for one reason or another. Previously, they would show the final product to legal for clearance and cross their fingers. Now, if something looks like it may be a potential problem it's flagged early and the past pitfalls and heartache are avoided

In my work of leading workshops, I have dedicated folks I can turn to for feedback before I run one. They question my approach on something or provoke me to think deeper about a specific activity. I'm forced to re-examine the flow of the session to ensure it's logical and optimizes the benefit to participants.

Admittedly, I also eat a slice of humble pie. I start to see my biases, and with my ideas making early contact with the real world -- I can check my ego at the door. Not only does this build more humility, it helps me recalibrate to boost my performance.

Making Collaboration Stickier

Newsflash: if your teammates don't truly care about a project, then working out loud will make little difference. Good collaboration can happen when there is care, commitment, and communication.

Sal's appeal to his team to work in the cloud has an implicit message: if you care about this project you'll commit to working in this new way. Resting on this foundation, blossoms a support network where teammates contribute to one another's work in better ways and discover they're communicating more regularly and effectively. Wins all around.

There is a  caveat (isn't there always?). You must also allow for autonomy, alignment, and accountability (you can probably tell I like my tidy three-tiered alliterations). It's crucial to see that sticky collaboration will happen only when the work rhythms of the individual are in sync with those of the team. By having a shared repository, one of Sal's editors can dip in and out of the cloud to ensure that their solo work is aligned with the team and the overall project.

Spotify engineers who epitomize this way of working, also witness another benefit as a result: everyone feels accountable. It turns out working out loud, works wonders.

Boosting Your Trust Quotient

If the bedrock of your team rests on trust then what results is psychological safety (a magic ingredient found by Google when it studied its teams). In a team that lacks trust, ineffectual micro-management prevails. Leaders isolate themselves and teammates disconnect from each other.

So working out loud also requires vulnerability. Sal's film crew publish film edits in the cloud before they're ready. I elicit input on a workshop before it feels comfortable. Feeling stretched is important because it means you avoid complacency. "Your blessing in life is when you find the torture you're comfortable with," Seinfeld playfully puts it.  

Working out loud also makes transformative conversations the norm, not the exception. It spawns a spirit where teammates can gain constructive feedback, collaborate better, earn trust, and gain continuous support. Don't you want to enable those around you to learn, grow and succeed?

Published on: Apr 3, 2018