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Posts Tagged ‘John Stepper

Drill or Disperse?

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Teachers Know: Why stop to tell what you are doing?

Researchers just want to research. Inborn curiosity drives that desire, though other incentives likely add to curiosity. The research is the key work and the satisfaction of curiosity is its own reward.


So why would anyone stop to tell about their research? Why not just keep at it? What reward is there in stopping? And if there is financial reward for research, there is even less reason to stop and talk about it.

I’m working on a few thought pieces with a client: small, pointed communication tools that paint a picture of a particular bit of knowledge they are expanding. These smart people have a particular niche and they want to let others know so they can move faster into collaboration with their customers and partners. But the people with the detailed smarts don’t want to stop to communicate because they are busy inventing and satisfying their curiosity. Plus, they are likely paid to invent, not to talk about their inventing.

In a smaller, less acute way, I feel the inventor’s pain. Writing ListenTalk opened new ground for me and answered questions I did not know enough to ask, even as it unearthed entirely new categories of questions. I’m not alone in this: writer friends and artist friends (and wood-working friends and welding friends and mechanic friends) just want to push forward with their projects. Why talk about it when you can do it? You may face this dilemma too: you don’t want to explain what you are doing. You just want to keep at it.DrillOrDisperse-10082015

I get that.

But do we push forward in a slightly new way as we stop to tell others? I wonder. Teachers and professors understand this—especially those teachers and professors who are also practitioners of their art and craft. In stopping to explain, we suddenly realize some brand new thing. We realize something we would never have come up with on our own, sitting at our keyboard/bench/laboratory. It’s the interaction with another that stimulates that.

John Stepper gets this in his notion of Working Out Loud. Social media offers an opportunity for this. It turns out that customers and communities and friends and colleagues and collaborators—even academics—respond to sharing of insights.

What would happen today if you shared an insight or two with someone tuned in to that question? Not present. Not monologue. Not preach–just share it.


Image & Dumb Sketch credit: Kirk Livingston

MedAxiom: Can Physicians Work Out Loud?

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Check out my guest post at MedAxiom.

First of a three-part series on helping your team adapt to a value-first environment.


Written by kirkistan

July 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Why Work Out Loud?

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Living out loud—even at work

Way back when our first child was born (lo these many years ago), back before there was language, when crying and inchoate grunts were the sum total of signals this small being could muster (along with unblinking stares), a strange communication pattern emerged in our household: narration.

Mrs. Kirkistan and I both found ourselves narrating in real-time to this youngster. His wide eyes and (relative) silence seemed enough to make us think he was curious about, well, whatever. We narrated pacing the floor at 2am (“We’re walking back and forth because someone is crying. But we’re not pointing fingers. No sir.”). We narrated cooking and cleaning. We talked about sitting on the couch and driving in the car. We told the story of outside—every window had a story.

It seemed to work if only because it was met with silence which we took for interest. Eventually he started narrating back at us.

Thank you, Veterans.

Thank you, Veterans.

I’m reminded of this as I read John Stepper’s blog and anticipate his book, Working Out Loud: How to build a better network, career & life (Due Feb, 2015). Mr. Stepper makes the case that we do ourselves a favor when we “work in an open, generous, connected way.” The benefit is to ourselves and to others. Check out his “5 elements of working out loud.”

Lately I find myself talking more with clients about how they communicate internally and externally. I continue to see the emphasis wrought by free and open social venues (Twitter, bloggery, Facebook) working their way backwards into the way organizations conduct business. I predict more collaborative encounters and less monologue from a guy with a tie and a pen to sign your paycheck.

Stepper’s “working out loud” codifies some of that collaborative energy that rises like Spring sap with honest and open communication. I think of it as another perspective on the “dumb sketch” approach to life.

Narrating our day, asking for input, remarking on a remarkable idea—it’s all part of human contact and cannot be separated from the business of making meaning.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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