The case for showing your work (Jane Bozarth at ASTD2014)

Fresh out of the ASTD2014 ICE Expo hall lunch and a fine moment of ukulele rock with a little help from her friends, Jane Bozarth is here for session #TU208 to talk about the value of showing your work. She feels that L+D is missing a lot of opportunities. Busy developing courses and running training, we are not really releasing the potential within the organisation…


Learners know that if they need to learn something, they don’t need to wait for a course. They’ll find a colleague to help them learn a little spreadsheet thing; they’ll jump on youTube when they want to see how to change a lightbulb. The knowledge and skills and experience is out there in the organisation. We need to help bring it out.

Jane told us about a friend Gloria Mercer, who started to narrate her bakery efforts. Starting from the principle that someone out there might profit from the sharing, Mercer started sharing photographs of learning about baking.

In another example (formal learning this time), Jane mentioned what Mark Britz set up as part of the onboarding process in his company. He asked new joiners to share something they had learnt and what it meant to them.

In a third example, Jane showed us a teacher who did an RSA-style project with his students and documented all the steps. As a result, we get a better sense of what was actually done and the steps required to achieve the project. Other teachers would be able to adopt the idea and implement it in their schools.


What are the benefits for the organisation of showing work?

  • It’s cheap
  • It helps break down silos
  • It documents knowledge without having a formal knowledge-documentation project
  • People learn from each other
  • It creates self-esteem and satisfaction for those who are sharing
  • It can reinforce sense of purpose for specific things people have done, for example during a change process
  • As we saw in Josh Davis’ NeuroScience session on Monday, metacognition (thinking about how you are thinking) creates new neural connections and leads to better memory and learning
  • You can save time and not it reinvent the wheel
  • It creates more sociability in the organisation




Tips for showing work

Getting started with this kind of work + learning narration is not difficult, but people may need a little push, or some tips. Have a look…

  • Photos – pictures speak louder than words. If you are doing something, take a snapshot.
  • Text – encourage people to write about what they are doing. It doesn’t have to be a book, or even a blog. Just a paragraph on a tool like Yammer will do the trick.
  • Film yourself doing something you have learnt and post it (on Youtube or elsewhere)
  • Ask people to keep it simple and familiar in style
  • Don’t worry about the “quality” or “form” of what you are sharing – if you’re making a film to show something you figured out, just think about it a little and then pull out your smartphone
  • Ask a question to your network. This helps people understand what’s going on with you… …and you get answers!
  • Answer questions! Showing your expertise to people who ask for it is not arrogant. They need help, you have it. Share it!
  • Narrate your work as you go. You don’t need to wait until it’s all over and then publish the result. For example, create a discussion feed on a Yammer network group and add comments as you go.
  • Ask for feedback on something you have done. Tell people you want to improve and see what they can tell you.
  • Make an sport folio of your work
  • Share your internet favourites with a tool like
  • Make a YouTube playlist of things that you found useful and share them. Example: See my blues-guitar playlist on my youtube channel
  • Don’t worry about “showing off”. It’s OK to share.
  • But it’s not OK to share everything. Be aware of keeping private what should be kept private. (One of my clients, a large complex multinational company in the food industry, has a strategic intention to share whatever can be shared)


It’s a simple concept and personally, I would like to see it happening everywhere. In my own Belgian experience, I find that many people don’t “dig it”. Whereas I like to share everything, put it out there and talk about what is going on for me, many of my Belgian colleagues find this too “in your face”. It seems that the culture of private/public space and introvert/extrovert is very different. Jane says it is important show a good example of how to do it in a any that suits them. Don’t ask them to talk about themselves, ask them to talk about the problems they haveq encountered and solutions they have found. Also, don’t forget that things don’t need to be all shared on a large open-to-all platform. Start small and a bit more “private”…


Go forth and share!


See also:



Published by Dan Steer

For the last 17 years, I have been helping businesses and individuals to achieve their goals through delivery of tailor-made learning and development initiatives. Most of the time, I deliver training, coach individuals, facilitate brainstorming sessions, round-table meetings and workshops. As a consultant, I help my clients to promote and profit from the infinite learning opportunities within and without their own organisation, drawing on my L+D management experience, strategic approach and creativity, As a speaker, I inspire through story, humour and pertinent little bits of theory. I believe that the world would be a better place if people were happily working on their mission with competence and alignment to personal values. As a freelance worker since 2008, I have helped more than 11000 individuals to improve their presentation, communication, commercial, leadership and negotiation skills. I confront people with their own behaviour and convictions, facilitating and giving pertinent feedback and clear ideas on where to continue good work and improve. I seek to satisfy my clients with creative and to-the-point solutions… …and I make music, but no-one pays me much for it yet :-) First single here:

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