Liberating Structures: Change Methods for Everybody Every Day

Icons representing 33 Liberating Structures
  1. Why do we need change methods that everybody can use every day?
  2. How are the 33 Liberating Structures ideally suited to become people’s normal way to work and interact with one another?
  3. What principles are reinforced by Liberating Structures to promote improved performance and increased innovation?
  4. What makes Liberating Structures work well in today’s complex world and applicable to a full range of situations and issues?
  5. How do Liberating Structures invite individuals and organizations to unearth and develop possibilities that did not seem to exist before?
  6. How do people learn and spread Liberating Structures?

1. Why do we need change methods that everybody can use every day?

Figure 1: The Big Five Conventional microstructures in common use
  • Versatile: useful in many different situations, regardless of a person’s profession, position, culture, or purpose
  • Easy to learn: no extensive training required; people can pick them up easily
  • Expert-less: require only a few minutes to introduce; everybody can use them
  • Results-focused: generate tangible results so quickly that people will sustain the effort
  • Rapid cycles: short enough to fit in the existing rhythm of work and to be repeated quickly to improve results
  • Multi-scale: useable with varied group sizes for everyday tasks, projects, or strategy/goal setting
  • Enjoyable: participants experience working together as pleasurable and satisfying rather than the usual drudgery

2. How are the 33 Liberating Structures ideally suited to become people’s normal way to work and interact with one another?

3. What principles are constantly reinforced by Liberating Structures to promote improved performance and innovation?

Figure 3: Ten principles become ongoing practices

4. What makes Liberating Structures work well in today’s complex world and applicable to a full range of situations and issues?

Figure 4: LS micro-structural design elements
  • The invitations: Are tightly connected to the purpose of each Liberating Structure but they leave all participants fully in control for generating responses and content
  • How participation is distributed: No artificial, a priori limit is imposed on the number of participants! EVERYBODY that is affected can ALWAYS be included and will get equal time and opportunity to contribute
  • How groups are configured: Most of the work is done is small groups, everybody working in parallel, then sharing results and moving forward in rapid cycles
  • Sequence of steps and timing: Work is broken down into easy chunks logically sequenced to achieve the stated purpose of the chosen structure
  • How space is arranged: The space where work gets done is usually fixed. This element defines how the space is shaped, modified, or adapted based on what is needed to best implement the chosen structure.
Figure 6: Sample LS string for strategic planning

5. How do LS invite different types of individuals and organizations to unearth and develop possibilities that did not seem to exist before?

6. How do people learn and spread Liberating Structures?

So, how do we get Liberating Structures into everybody’s drinking water?

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Keith is co-developer of Liberating Structures and co-author of the book The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures ...

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Keith McCandless

Keith McCandless

Keith is co-developer of Liberating Structures and co-author of the book The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures ...

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