How I narrate my work

Documenting my current process for narrating my own and my team’s work, and directions I might develop it.


As previously mentioned, I am currently re-experiencing Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery course.

The latest challenge from Harold is to explore narrating our work either to ourselves or in a shared form, as this can form a key stimulus in networked learning

Narrating one’s work does not get knowledge transferred, but it provides a better medium to gain more understanding - Harold Jarche.

This is something I have iterated over a few times, so I thought it would be useful to capture my current practice.

The two hurdles I have always felt with this process have been:

  • to be able to separate the things which really can only be discussed inside my employer’s organisation, and the things which potentially can be made public
  • accepting that what I write in my web spaces doesn’t have to fit into any particular pattern, i.e. it is perfectly acceptable to mix professional things with personal interests, or comments on things that I have noticed.

My approach in brief

My current practice is made up of the following elements:

  • narrating my work for myself
  • encouraging my team to narrate what they are doing
  • weekly sharing of the whole team activity with the wider company
  • sharing things publicly on this site in the following areas:
    • ephemeral short notes and bookmarks
    • specifically technical notes
    • more general blog posts
  • syndicating my site into my Mastodon timeline (POSSE)

More detail

Narrating for myself

I have built a simple template for daily notes, based around what I did, blocks I found, what I learned, and open questions that have come up during the day. The single most important discipline I have found in all of this is to make myself write these daily notes as I go along, no matter how brief they are.

Further I have a weekly note template with headings that make it a place to note down key priorities at the end of the week, serve as a synopsis of the week, and to note key priorities for the following week.

Encouraging my team to narrate their own work

This is very much at a “work in progress” stage, however I think the habits are starting to form. I have used the following elements so far:

  • individual and team discussions about the benefits of keeping an effective working log, starting with the personal benefit for individuals about being able to loook back over the problems they solved
  • a template for weekly progress reporting that has headings for “What have you worked on?”, “what is complete?”, “what challenges did you have?”, “do you need help?”, “what did you learn / what would you do differently?” and “what do you see as your priorities for next week?”
  • an agenda for short weekly 1:1 meetings that follows the same structure

Sharing within the company

In December 2022 I started a practice of sharing a regular “weeknote” about the team’s work in an internally-visible location. I build this from my own and the team-member’s notes to summarise what we have been up to, what we have delivered, and where we are focusing next. I will often share some of the challenges and learning points, although there is a balance to be struck between explaining the detail and on the other hand keeping it accessible and relvant to our non-technical colleagues. I will usually end the note with a reference to an external source about something that is broadly current, or sometimes just a quote or cartoon relevant to a technical point.

Within the company our primary shared communication platform is Microsoft Teams, and I “own” a public channel for technology updates. I publish the weeknotes there, but make a point to not tag “All Company” (which would force a notification for all staff), rather to leave it there for those who are interested. I do tag team members when I mention their work, and specific colleagues outside the team who have been involved in various pieces of work.

Sharing publicly

My own way of dealing with the “what can I talk about publicly” dilemma mostly falls into one of two camps:

  • write purely technical posts, with minimal reference to the company context that drove that particular investigation
  • within the main blog area pick up more abstract issues, often driven from my daily “Open Questions” note, or from my personal interests

I have set up POSSE-style syndication to my Mastodon feed using the summary metadata from each of these types of post. I also share complete shorter note content from my Ephemera section.


I have found the single most important factor in all of this is the personal discipline to write my own notes, and within that the hardest part is to tease out explicitly the learning points. Paying attention to “Open Questions” is also a great source of starting points for my personal Seek-Sense-Share cycle.

With the team, as we are all working on technical problems of various sorts, the basic idea of keeping a log of what you tried and what worked is fairly easy. The hardest challenge is to coach them to develop the reflective practice of identifying learning points explicity, and that mirrors my own challenges there. I don’t yet think any of them are at the point where a more visible narration of their work either within the company or publicly would sit comfortably, and I also think they are at a very early point in any kind of metalearning about their own process.

My motivations for the company-visible weeknote are several:

  • we should be accountable to colleagues for what we are doing
  • it’s useful to explain things we are doing which may not be immediately obvious to colleagues, in part so they get a clearer picture of why “their thing” isn’t being worked on yet
  • it’s a way of reinforcing to my team the importance of the narration process
  • as one of the senior managers I think (and say) that all teams in the company should be transparent, so I need to hold myself to that standard and set an example

In terms of external sharing, at one level I am very used to it, having been blogging for over 20 years. Nevertheless I do still find myself vulnerable to the internal critics about “how good” a post has to be to share it. It’s really useful to have an external push, whether from participating in a course, or from signing up to a public challenge such as #100DaysToOffload.

I think the main next steps are:

  • continue the dailiy discipline of doing something that supports my learning/narration/sharing process - habits need to be reinforced
  • start to introduce some further ideas to team members around purposeful selection of learning sources, and introducing some kind of reflective writing into their own processes to aid synoptic sense-making
  • conversations with senior colleagues to share some of these core concepts and perhaps influence their own thinking

#100DaysToOffload 26/100

Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change