Working Out Loud

What is it and why am I doing it?

B. Lorraine Smith
8 min readMar 2


This is the title slide for the latest Matereality assessment on global meat company JBS. The deck is a work in progress and I’m working out loud. In this article I explain what that means and why I am taking this approach.

I talk a big game about my vision, which is an economy that works in service of life. And I spend most of my time — according to me anyway — cultivating the kind of industrial healing we need to transition to that economy.

But the fact is, I don’t know how to do this and I need help.* Heck, I don’t even know what kind of help I need most days. So I’ve adopted a habit of working out loud, leaving my virtual office door open so anyone can have a look, offer feedback, and maybe even take what’s useful.

In this piece I’ll use the JBS Matereality assessment as an example to explain what I mean by working out loud, and why I am using this approach. I welcome your thoughts.

If you’re new to Matereality, the origin story is here, guiding principles are here, and a whole host of other (expensive but free!) goodies are here. If you already have a sense of what I’m up to here, and/or you simply want to dive into the notion of working out loud in general, read on to see an example in action.

What am I working on out loud?

I am creating a google slide deck that will be the collected findings of the JBS Matereality assessment. It sounds so basic: a few slides! But there is a lot jammed in there, which I am inventing as I go (see also: “Why am I doing this” below).

In the spirit of working out loud, the deck is set up so that anyone can see (and comment on) the slides.

These are the access settings to the slide deck where the JBS Matereality assessment is coming together. A volunteer is helping me with a few things hence they have editor status, but meanwhile anyone with access to the internet can comment.

Does anybody notice this out loud work? Well, when I was working on the Danone assessment late last year, and especially in the weeks right after it was complete, at any given moment there were up to 30 people in the deck (all anonymous to me). And today, four months after finishing that assessment, as I was getting the screengrab to illustrate another point below, I noticed two anonymous folks actively viewing it.

So… yes. People notice when we work out loud and invite them to join us. Especially if the work might be of service to…



B. Lorraine Smith

Recovering ESG "expert"; yarn spinner; distance runner; magical realist. Sensing a path to an economy serving life. also at