We have recently started WOL in Samara, our organisation within the SEEDS currency ecosystem. WOL is not just the wise (or sometimes slightly foolish) owl of Winnie the Pooh fame, WOL is also Working Out Loud, as described by John Stepper in his TED Talk and on the Working Out Loud website.
If you haven’t heard of working out loud (and until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t), it’s sort of like Twitter, but also very much not. It involves posting your work activities online (we use Discord channels, with one channel per person), thereby sharing transparently with the people in your work community what you’re doing and thinking that relates to your shared endeavour. You’re not spamming your colleagues with a blow-by-blow account of your day, because you’re not sending the updates to anybody, but the information is there for your co-creators to dip into, browse, and respond to as much or as little as they want to.
This serves several functions:
- A logbook so you can see how you’ve been spending your time – but more humane and dignified than old-school time-reporting
- Transparency so others can see what you’ve been doing – important for building trust in decentralised organisations, especially when we are all working from home
- An invitation to collaboration, advice, and/or moral support
- A way to find out what makes your colleagues tick – and for them to do the same for you
- Helps teams to spot duplications and gaps
In my view, it’s a wonderful practice, with many benefits.
There is, however, one big risk that I could see, and this is what brings me to WWIBL. WOL creates scope for egotistical busy-ness signalling. “Look at me! I’m so busy and important! Check out all these big thoughts I’m thinking, and all these important people I’m talking to!”
How did I spot this potential trap? Because I fell right into it.
(You might think I fell into it a long time ago when I started this blog in 2003, and haven’t got out of it yet… and you would be entitled to your opinion.)
I was thinking about this at 4am, as you do when you’re busy not sleeping. I was reflecting on this post that I put on my WOL channel yesterday:
“Just so you know… from now until 13th March I am attempting to function beyond full capacity. I have 3 main projects – TEDx*, Sisters, and SEEDS/Samara, all of which are reaching peak activity at the moment (the TEDx* goes out on 21st March, but we are prerecording on 11th and 12th). I have 3 speaking engagements next week, and am away from home for 2 nights for work (3 x speaking slots) the week after. I am taking 2 online courses, plus SEEDS Ambassador Academy. And I am moving house, from furnished to unfurnished, so I need to find furniture, curtains, etc., as well as packing and managing logistics. Oh, and the examiners came back with a request for final amendments to my doctoral dissertation, but that will just have to wait. I’m not being “woe is me” – all of these are good things – but they are all happening at once, which was not the plan!”
(This, incidentally, is not truly a WOL-worthy post, but at the time I was feeling overwhelmed, so it was a cry from the heart. It’s basically a whinge.)
As I lay there thinking about this at 4am, I realised I was getting very caught up in this story of “I’m so busy – help!!”, and I wondered What Would It Be Like (WWIBL) if I used my tried and tested technique from the ocean: when I can’t change the situation, what can I do to change my attitude? And suddenly I found more spaciousness.
WWIBL if I didn’t meet this deadline?
WWIBL if I dropped out of this meeting?
WWIBL if I wasn’t indispensable to this project?
WWIBL if I didn’t have my new home completely unpacked and fully furnished within the first week?
WWIBL if I stopped telling myself this story that I am so impossibly busy, and just got on with things?
WWIBL if my blog post ended rather abruptly?
*If you haven’t already bought your ticket for our TEDx event, please do! Even if you don’t have time to attend, we would still appreciate your support, and it’s a bargain at £5 per ticket. Buy one! Buy ten!
Please also consider supporting this important film project, about the sixth mass extinction, and featuring my young friend Bella Lack, a passionate youth activist for our world!