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“Working out loud” on a partner extranet or social intranet, at first, sounded trendy and buzz-unworthy. Like many people working in an office environment, I spent most of my day on a network drive and email.

Although this arrangement was familiar and somewhat comforting, I realized a lot of great opportunities for producing better products were lost because staff were working on their own little islands without the ability—and sometimes the will—to share with their colleagues.

I came to learn what “working out loud” meant: the ability for people to see, comment on and share each other’s work products, advice, questions, ideas and more. 

Most of our day-to-day work is tucked inside of emails and network folders. What if those emails fall into the abyss of your inbox? What if no one thinks to look for a piece of content in a particular network folder and they end up recreating what already exists?  

It translates to lost knowledge. 

I always share what I think is a great example of “working out loud.” A team that primarily used email to provide answers to grantees’ technical assistance questions began to use their partner extranet to do so. Prior to the extranet, team members responded to individual email requests for help—a one-to-one model of support.  

This wasn’t necessarily a bad practice, but the team missed two big opportunities:   

  • 1)   Only the person on the other end of the email received the piece of support when it’s likely that many others had the same question and could have benefitted from the support, and 
  • 2)   Junior members of the team attempting to learn the ropes of technical assistance were never included on the emails to see how more seasoned members handle inquiries.

The team’s adoption of the partner extranet was a game changer. They quickly generated a knowledge base on the extranet in the form of an FAQ. Any time a grantee emailed the team with a question, they could direct the grantee to the answer on the extranet via a hyperlink.  

Junior team members also began to learn the approach that senior team members took to answering questions once the FAQ became available to everyone. This new and open way of offering technical assistance led to new team conversations that focused on enhancing and improving upon their delivery of support. 


Consider emerging from your corner of the network drive to explore and embrace an “out loud” way of working with your colleagues.  

Check out Ideal State’s white paper below. 

Get the Guide to Partner Extranets

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