Need a workshop icebreaker? Try Working Out Loud

I can honestly say with hand on heart, what helped me land my dream job a year ago is a simple philosophy by John Stepper called “Work Out Loud”.

I introduced this technique to my colleagues and we now include a #WOL icebreaker exercise in our cultural change workshops. The workshop outcomes are to shift organisations to a modern collaborative workplace by changing behaviours and trying growth mindset experiments using products like: Microsoft Teams, Yammer, OneDrive, OneNote, SharePoint and Stream.

If you would like to try the #wol icebreaker start with the header in this blog then …

  • Ask other people about their goals …
  • Are you an expert in that goal?
  • Have you achieved a similar goal?
  • Do you know someone else who is – personally or via social media?
  • Could you promote someone else’s goal in some way?
  • Let the conversation bubble away for about 3 minutes. Then bring the focus back to you. I often tap a spoon on a glass of water to get attention as the room can get noisy with excited chatter!
  • Ask how it went – did they get any insights?
  • Then, explain how this might work when “Working Out Loud in a Network”…
  • Consider posting a question on a collaboration network like Yammer and receive responses from trusted colleagues you do not already know, fast!
  • Generously sharing your work or ideas with a view that someone might find it helpful, but might also be able to help you.
  • This introduces the power of collaborative serendipity! One of my favourite words meaning the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Another icebreaker I recently made up was for an NHS Cultural Change workshop. I asked the audience of about 15 people to make a line, gauged by how long they’ve worked in the NHS. The line went from 32 years (a doctor!) to 8 months. I added up all the years to demonstrate how much collective knowledge was in the room, and explained collaborating on a network like Yammer and also in Microsoft Teams, can surface priceless tacit knowledge demonstrating a powerful (DNA) growth mindset.

I’ve designed two other exercises we run in our workshops, you will have to attend one to find out what they are. Hope this helps you to continue to nurture the benefits of  Working Out Loud in A Network #WOLAN, and nicely warm up your workshop.


Lesley Crook