Working Out Loud, Even in Concession

Today is Thursday. Late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Wednesday morning, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally conceded the election.

636142938361347248-afp-afp-hy1goDuring her concession speech, Hillary Clinton said “And to the millions of volunteers, community leaders, activists and union organizers who knocked on doors, talked to their neighbors, posted on Facebook — even in secret private Facebook sites. I want everybody coming out from behind that and make sure your voices are heard going forward.”

Hillary was referring to the Pantsuit Nation private Facebook group that was created as a space for voters to express their support for Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States. What started with just a few people ballooned to over 3 million members, and it expanded to multiple regional groups reaching people throughout the country.

A private group, rapidly growing, wildly popular now being encouraged to open itself up to so its message could be heard and shared by others. Now that the group is public, will the nature of the group change? What are the benefits of a private group versus a public group?

I manage an organizational social collaboration space, and when someone creates a new group, they usually create it as a private group. The group is being created for a team to do work, and the person creating the group naturally reasons that since this space is for their team, it should be private to their team.

I ask the person who created the group, “Why is your group private?” I talk to them about the benefits of organizational transparency, and about how our organization can be more effective if we are all connected to the work of our colleagues in a more direct, open way.

“What is really private about your work?” I challenge. “What would happen if someone from another team knew what you were working on?” The teams that change their groups to be public (to everyone in the organization) realize an immediate benefit. Other teams and colleagues now see their work, they are now getting input, data and insight from different areas of the organization that they would not otherwise have. I believe that public groups are, more often than not, the way our teams should be working.

But then, Hillary conceded, and I wondered…would the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group have become so big had it not been private?  Though private groups lose opportunities for transparency and collaboration, they do gain opportunities to create a cohort, a close-knit team, a collection of people strongly and closely connected around a common goal.

Privacy suggests exclusivity. If you are let into a group, it would then stand to reason that someone else was left out. Members of a private group are important, their input is valuable, and they are in a space where others are not welcome.

If a group is being created to create a team, then privacy is often the way to go. Provide a space for people to safely get to know each other. Bond. Share information. Become passionate about the work, or the cause. And then, in time (as Hillary suggest), open that group up and let others in.

Although she didn’t know it, Hillary was actually advocating Working Out Loud (#WOL), as described in a wonderful book by John Stepper. WOL encourages two things:

  1. Embrace transparency at work. Share your work in progress, and be generous with your colleagues. You will become better connected to people and information throughout your organization. You will be more successful, your organization will be stronger.
  2. Create your network. What are your personal or career goals? Who are people you can find who are connected to your goal, either at work, or thought leaders and professionals Facebook or on Twitter? How can you contribute to these people to deepen relationships?

Hillary said “I want everybody coming out from behind that (private group) and make sure your voices are heard going forward.” In other words, you have been in your private world long enough. It’s time to share who you are, and what you care about. It’s time to get connected to more people. It’s time to Work Out Loud.

NOTE: Check out John Steppers blog at workingoutloud.com. Lots of great, free information, and a new blog post every Wednesday. Also be sure to read these awesome blogs by Simon Terry, Melanie Hohertz and Naomi Moneypenny. I know I have missed a few excellent blogs…please add them in the comments below!

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