Two people I respect have published books 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 is a writer for Learning Solutions magazine, a workplace training practitioner, and an author.
The two Show Your Work books have more than a title in common. Although they approach the topic from different angles, both touch on the value of sharing your knowledge.
In Kleon’s Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, he encourages people to let others into their creative process rather than waiting until they 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.”
Bozarth’s Show Your Work 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 (the belief that it’s right to pay it forward) and egoism (the desire to raise one’s 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 others’ content when you find it valuable.
- 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.”
Showing your work encourages those in your community to show what they’re working on as well, which leads to a more collaborative and productive environment.
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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