Book Review: Show Your Work

I was totally jazzed about Jane Bozarth’s ASTD presentation called “Show your work” that the first thing I did when I got home was read her book called, surprisingly, Show Your Work*. This book mirrored the presentation quite well, yet it provided much more detail. The book is peppered with lots of examples of how to show your work in support of transparency in the workplace. 

The book has six chapters, and introduction and an index spread over the 186 pages. Each of the sections is color coded making it easy to get to a section of interest. The chapters include:

  • Benefits to Organizations
  • Workers: What’s In It For You?
  • What Is Knowledge? and Why Do People Share It?
  • “This Is How I Do That.”
  • Learning & Development
  • How?

Each of the chapters is approximately 20 pages in length with the “This is How I do That.” and How? chapters running 45 to 60 pages in length. The chapters each begin with a quote that set the tone for the chapter. My two favorite are: “If what you’re doing isn’t worth sharing, then why are you doing it?” (Bozarth, 2014, p. 57) and “People talk about their work all the time. How can we make that more visible?” (Bozarth, 2014, p. 179).

The book is very visual, and as I noted earlier it has a plethora of real world examples. Bozarth has provided examples of showing your work from a number of different perspectives.

In her first chapter, Bozarth focuses on the organization. She not only addresses the benefits but also addresses typical organizational communication hang ups. She notes that showing your work can help preserve organizational knowledge, improve customer service, and make leadership more transparent. I personally walked away with lots of takeaways from the NASA Monday Notes example.

As Bozarth addresses the benefits for the worker and showing your work, she focuses in on establishing credibility, improving performance, and reflective practice. In this book and in her presentation, she provided a powerful example of her reaching out the Twittersphere to get assistance on a problem and the resulting solution.

In her chapter on “This is How I do That.”, she provided a number of great examples of people sharing. These examples included everything from creating YouTube videos and Slideshare presentations to narrating while using Google Glass. She provided examples of people from different professions and walks of life using social media tools such as blogs, Twitter, podcasts, etc. to explain how and why they did what they did. She provided so many varied examples, she made the case that anyone could in fact show their own work. She showed how people were using these tools to learn as they worked.

As she talked about Learning & Development, she noted that we had to work differently. We should be championing and encouraging everyone in the organization to show their work for the benefit of everyone else in the organization. L&D should be leading by example and show their work as well as help others learn to do the same.

Finally, Bozarth provides some guidance on how to accomplish the idea of showing your work. She stresses the importance of keeping it simple. She also encourages making materials as public as possible so that others can benefit from the learning opportunity. You can never tell when a learning spin-off can occur. She also addresses tool and strategies as well as worker concerns.

This book provided me with a number of great ideas that I will be eager to share. I would strongly recommend Extension educators read this book to understand its essence as well as discover ideas that will strengthen the Extension program. I feel this book can benefit any organization interested in improving on-the-job learning as well as increasing transparency.

Reference

Bozarth, J. (2014). Show Your Work: The payoffs and how-to’s of working out loud (First Edition.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass & Pfeiffer Imprint, Wiley.

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