Working out loud in Silence (inspired by the MVP Summit silent disco)

If you haven’t been to a silent disco before, let me explain. There’s a dance floor. There are DJs, there are dancers, and … there are headphones. Bluetooth, over-the-ear headphones, brightly lit with colors and all tuned to one of several channels. The music you will hear, depends on the color your headphones are set to. On one channel, let’s say blue, the DJ will be playing “We are Family” by Sister Sledge, and on the green channel, they’ll be playing “Team” by Lorde, on the red channel is silence. As the night progresses, throngs of headphone-clad dancers fill the dance floor, dance and sing along, baffling those in the room who cannot hear the music as everyone outside of the headphone-clad is left wondering what they’re missing.

[Photo above: everyone dancing on the dance floor. Most on green, but a few on blue. Photo credit: Benjamin Elias]

I didn’t join the silent disco right away. You see, I was on crutches for the MVP Summit. So, I didn’t think it would be safe. One of my friends, Melanie Hohertz came up and said, “Here, try my headphones. I’ll get some more.” So I sat, far away from the dance floor, listening to the music and wishing I could be out there.

[Pictured above: Becky Benishek and Loni French - Photo credit - Ragnar Heil]

Then someone came back and said, “That woman in the wheelchair was on fire!” And that did it. That meant that if someone like me could do it, so could I. I stuck nearby my friends, so that in the case of insane jumping, I’d be safe – and we danced. My friend Loni French showed me (more than one time, because I couldn’t quite figure it out) how to switch from blue to green to hear different music. We encouraged each other to switch from channel to channel depending on song so that we could all sing together, or laugh together, and definitely DANCE together.

[Pictured above: Amy Dolzine on blue and Loni French on green]


To me, participating in the silent disco at the Microsoft MVP summit last week was kind of a beautiful metaphor of what we as Microsoft MVPs do. It's definitely something community managers do in enterprise social networks. A silent disco, in a way, is EXACTLY like working out loud. When you make your work visible to others, so that they can benefit from it you are working out loud. When you see others, who are just like you, participating in working like a network, you may dip your toe in. You get a feel for how powerful that is to know you may not have all the dance moves, but you know the people who do. You can all dance together on one channel, or move between channels seamlessly. You’ve built strong relationships from sharing what you know to benefit others and bringing people along with you to the dance floor.

You can even bring NEW technology with you to your network or that silent disco. I brought crutches, and SnapChat, and was able to have my Bitmoji out there with my friend Noah Sparks. And Loni French, Kevin Crossman and I “closed our rings” on our Apple watches. And you know what, if you as a dancer just want to stick to the red “silent” channel and lurk [lurkers are people too], you’re still participating. You’re still out there on the floor, enjoying the event and being a part of it in your own way.

[Pictured above: Amy Dolzine, Kevin Crossman, Ragnar Heil and Loni French on SnapChat, Amy Dolzine's Bitmoji dancing with Noah Sparks, Amy and Loni on Snapchat and our Apple watches]

When you work out loud or you're in a silent disco, ANYONE can be a leader. If you wanna break dance, go for it. If you want to start a line dance, go for it. If you want to be the only one who moves to the blue channel and see who follows, you can do that. You wanna conga? Go right on ahead and bring your friends. 

I am part of a group of people who care very much about helping people connect with one another in a digital world. Digital transformation happens on screens, shop floors, factory floors, and as it turns out, on dance floors. As an Office Servers and Services Microsoft MVP, I, along with my friends all around the world, care about getting people to participate, to answer each other’s questions, to, in a word, DANCE with each other in a network. We want people to be aware of the technology, and also to adopt it to help them solve business problems with it and make it part of a shared experience that will lead to a greater sense of purpose, a sense of community, and trust.

And now, I’d like to ask all of my fellow MVPs to reflect on this and let’s start a conga line of responses. Go on, comment, link to your own blogs. After all, "WE are YAMILY!"


Cross posted from LinkedIn: 

@Kevin Crossman @Melanie Hohertz @Lonya French @Deleted @Deleted @Benjamin Elias @Ragnar Heil @Noah Sparks

4 Replies

@Amy Dolzine I've wanted to attend a Silent Disco and you've made me want to do it even more now!


You're so right about WOL and the many ways we do it without even knowing.


Thanks for sharing!

It was brilliant!! Done it before and will do it again. The analogy with enterprise social networking is perfect but to be honest some won't truly get it unless you fully appreciate something like Yammer and experienced a silent disco.  Both should be on Bucket List!