Working Out Loud: What Happened to Then? We’re at Now, Now!

What Happened to Then? There’s a story about how I ended up in my enterprise role of change agent for Enterprise 2.0 / Social Business / Social Collaboration…whatever you want to call it.

For the first 10 years of my career at Lilly, I worked on various IT projects within the Regulatory department. And the role I typically performed best was known as “Business Integrator” or “Business Consultant.” And the biggest responsibility of that role for each and every project was to collect, synthesize and document the requirements of the ultimate business customers. We wrote these for four primary purposes:

        1. To reflect back to the business representatives that you understood what they were telling you…and had captured it completely and accurately.
        2. Requirements were the “contract” for defining how the ultimate capabilities would perform once delivered.
        3. They were intended to be THE source for the IT implementation team to scope, design, develop and test the deliverables against business expectations. Or locate and evaluate a third-party software vendor solution to get as close to the requirements as possible.
        4. And they were continually updated as a work in progress representation of the software development process as experimentation and iteration influenced changes to those requirements.

Over the years of doing this over and over, I developed my own art to being a “requirements manager,” particularly for fairly large IT systems, and eventually for projects that were evaluating and implementing third-party software packages. My “go to” method of organizing requirements into manageable chunks was using use cases.

To make a short story long, my methods began to draw some attention across other departments within the IT organization. People from other programs were wanting to my ideas and mentoring to replicate what we had done for their large scale IT programs. They wanted their people to learn what I was doing and how I was doing it. I was swamped.

We Just Passed Then! This was taking place in about 2007 / 2008, coinciding nicely with the time that our IT organization had just implemented a new “large scale enterprise collaboration suite.” As I explored what the new collaboration suite could do, I saw something that could help me better scale my knowledge sharing. Profiles, blogs and wiki libraries…oh my! It just clicked…

So I started blogging as I worked on projects. My thought processes, my tips and tricks, sources that I used for inspiration. I started using wiki pages to capture and get feedback on requirements instead of monolithic Word files. And occasionally instead of replying to an email request for someone, I would write a blog post and reply to that person with a link to my new blog post. And I set the security on all of that to be wide open across the entire company so others could see it and learn from it. I helped organize a “community” of business consultants that met once a month, brought in teams to share their stories and regularly presented to the members myself. But I also taught them how to follow along with and interact with my blog to keep the learning going between the meetings.

Then more and more requests for my time started coming in. New opportunities to consult for and lead larger IT-wide initiatives. Getting to present in front of the entire IT org at town halls or in senior leader committee meetings about updating our long standing software development lifecycle standards and implementing new requirements management training programs. Phone calls and e-mails and blog comments from people I’d never met asking me for help or thanking me for what I had shared. People asking me how to set up their blogs and wikis to look and operate like what I had done with mine.

I realized that there was a new way to work…and my mission was no longer to help my IT peers with requirements management. It was to be a Change Agent that would help all of my Lilly peers learn how to Work Out Loud on any topic of expertise. It had amplified my own reach and productivity, why couldn’t it do that for everyone?

When Will Then Be Now? By the middle of 2009, I had accepted a new role to take availability and adoption of our enterprise social capabilities to another level and begin teaching people all over the company the behaviors of “social collaboration”, aka Working Out Loud. And it’s about that time the practice starting becoming clearer to me and led to blog posts such as this one: When Will We Work Out Loud? Soon! 

Soon! I’m writing this story because this morning I had an idea. I’m going back to my requirements management roots (use cases) to help further the understanding and practice of Work Out Loud behaviors, in concert with and to complement the amazing work that John Stepper has shared of late: The 5 Elements of Working Out Loud.

I’m going to dig deep into my old methods of requirements use case modularization and topic hierarchy to capture the key behaviors of someone that works out loud effectively, including what one would need to shift from traditional behaviors to these new behaviors. And I’m going to build it in the true nature of Working Out Loud.

We’re At Now, Now! Click here to see my next blog post putting that idea into action…and to contribute and participate if you wish!

5 thoughts on “Working Out Loud: What Happened to Then? We’re at Now, Now!

  1. Pingback: E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez » Let The Next Adventure Begin – The With Whom (#CAWW)

  2. Pingback: E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez » Working Out Loud with Google Plus – Part Deux

  3. Pingback: Agencia de Aprendizaje | Trabajar en Voz Alta en la Empresa. “Working out loud”

  4. Pingback: El aprendizaje y el trabajo “definidos”, se desmoronan! | juandon. Innovación y conocimiento

  5. Pingback: #wolweek #twtwtw

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