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Show your work

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Show your work

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Two people I respect published books last year with the same title: “Show Your Work.” Austin Kleon is an Austin-based writer and artist who is the author of three illustrated books: Newspaper Blackout, Steal Like An Artist, and Show Your Work! Jane Bozarth, who we have profiled on our blog, is a writer for Learning Solutions magazine, workplace training practitioner, and author.

In Kleon’s Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, he encourages people to let others into your creative process rather than waiting until you have polished work. He encourages readers to be open, generous, brave, and productive.

Kleon’s book is like a pep talk, and here are some of the tips that connected for me:

  • Talk about the things you love.
  • Think process, not product.
  • Share something small every day.
  • Curate content from those you respect.
  • Tell good stories – they get better the more you tell them.
  • Teach what you know.
  • Don’t spam ­– be a fan first, listen, be thoughtful, be considerate.

I also loved this Annie Dillard quote that Kleon shared:

“The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

In Bozarth’s Show Your Work, she focuses on finding ways to capture tacit knowledge. Her book provides examples and best practices for organizations, industries, and individuals. Bozarth says that share is the new save thanks to our newfound comfort with social sharing and social tools. According to Bozarth, there are two reasons people will show their work – altruism (it’s right to pay it forward) and egoism (raises your profile). Of course, some show their work for both reasons at once!

Bozarth highlights the benefits of this philosophy to organizations, workers, colleagues, and management:

  • Organizations: supports productivity, improves performance, encourages reflective practice, speeds communication, and helps surface challenges, bottlenecks, and tacit knowledge
  • Workers: illuminates strengths, talents, struggles, and the reality of how days are spent
  • Colleagues: solves problems, saves time, builds on existing knowledge
  • Management: captures who does what and how

Bozarth makes the following recommendations to organizations, managers, and individuals:

  • Find relevant people and content.
  • Put your work where others can see it – this may include a collaboration platform, knowledge management solution, or file sharing app.
  • Make it easy – use mobile apps, browser extensions, email compatibility, single sign on, etc.
  • Be generous – like and comment on someone else’s contributions; share content.
  • Provide public recognition.
  • Have a voice.
  • Create a sense of control and ownership.

It’s all about the right attitude, and putting out into the world what you would like to receive. Or, as Bobby Solomon is quoted in Kleon’s book:

“Put yourself, and your work, out there every day, and you’ll start meeting some amazing people.”

To learn how to create a culture of content within your organization, check out our eBook: An Internal Culture of Content

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