Especially large companies such as Daimler or Bosch have been using the trend term “Working out Loud” for a while. In the course of New Work and digitization, this seems to be the next level of agile organization. But what is behind it? Just a short fad or a serious concept?

What is Working out Loud all about?

The term “working out loud” has actually been around for almost a decade. In 2010, the term first appeared in a blog article by IT consultant Bryce Williams. In his text, Williams explored the idea of sharing work and knowledge publicly, creating added value for all. For this purpose, he formed the term “Working out Loud” (WOL) from the previously known concepts of social collaboration and collaborative learning.

After WOL was discussed in more detail by John Stepper in his book five years later, it quickly found favour in many large companies. Stepper also made the concept available free of charge in the form of Circle guides on its website. Users then translate it from English into other languages, so that WOL is now particularly widespread in the USA, Europe but also Brazil and China.

How is Working out Loud structured?

Stepper described in his 2015 book that WOL is based on 5 principles that pursue the guiding principle of achieving individual goals by reflecting on one’s own approaches.


  • Building sustainable relationships
  • Including. own contribution to the consolidation of these relations


  • Sharing knowledge of your own free will
  • Strengthening your own network

Visible Work

  • Making your own work visible
  • Added value for the network instead of self-staging

Purposeful Discovery

  • resource-oriented working
  • strategic pursuit of goals with learning curve

Growth Mindset

  • Openness and curiosity towards the new
  • use all possibilities to achieve set goals

How does Working Out Loud work?

In order to realize these principles, Stepper envisades the formation of teams of 3 to 5 people, the so-called Circles. They meet one hour per week in a working phase of 3 months to work together on the respective goals of each team member.

First of all, each participant has to formulate his own goal for this. It doesn’t matter if it’s private or personal. The only important thing is that it is important for the team member and can be reached within 12 weeks. This ensures that there is a constant motivation over the period of the concept.

The team members are supported by a Circle Guide, which is available to All free of charge. Each week, proposals and exercises are presented that are related to the 5 principles of WOL and are intended to help achieve the goals. Above all, it is a question of creating added value not only for oneself, but also for the network, by presenting the path to the goal as transparently as possible. In this way, the individual team members should also internalize the concept to the extent that the workings of WOL eventually become a habit.

The Circle Guide is very openly worded. It is true that group size and concept period should not be exceeded for better quality. However, the team is still very free in many decisions. For example, it can freely determine the exact length of the meeting, the time of the exercises, or the choice of location. Digitally networked teams at different locations can also share WOL.

Who is it suitable for?

But WOL is not only an interesting concept for large companies. In theory, any company can use WOL. However, it is particularly suitable for highly digitized companies. Finally, this calls for a more open and sectarian approach. This requires not only the right attitude, but also new working models and structures. Free thinking, the possibility of an exchange of knowledge and well-organized networks as well as strong partners give room for innovation and are the basis for successful development in the digital age.

Companies increasingly see their employees as the most important resource. WOL can be an approach to promoting the expertise of its own workforce. There is the necessary space for exchange, support and inspiration. In this way, in addition to flexible forms of abeits, sustainable networks are also created.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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