I love Liberating Structures

If you really want a positive culture and extraordinary meetings, I recommend the Liberating Structures (LS), developed by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless.

LS focus on changing routine habits of interaction and the culture will be influenced organically. LS are “microstructures” that shape your conversations and meetings. They may seem small but have a big impact.

Old-fashioned micro-structures

The five most commonly used, “conventional” microstructures are presentations, open discussions, managed discussions, status reports, and brainstorming sessions.
These are designed for teaching, convincing, debating, brainstorming, and controlling, as Lipmanowicz and McCandless say. The result is disengaged audiences, power dynamics, and competition for attention.

The Presentation gives maximum control of content to the presenter and has no structure to engage others. The same goes for the Status Report.
The Brainstorm is a structure to engage a few people in expressing their ideas without constraints.
The Open Discussion has no control of content and no structure to include everybody, while the Managed Discussion gives one person the control for engaging a small number of participants.
All of these structures can be dissatisfying: they don’t engage enough people, take too long or yield too little results.

Modern micro-structures

Inspired by complex systems and complexity science, the authors developed the Liberating Structures: a repertoire of around 30-40 mini structures.

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LS can accommodate groups of any size, engage everyone, facilitate progress through rapid sifting and sequencing and, in general, yield better-than-expected results.
Once you get over the mental obstacle that “including everyone is not practical and possible”, you’ll be surprised to see how well they work.

Many leaders don’t realize how smart the whole organization is. Just like a true dialogue, LS tap into the collective intelligence. And that is what we need with the current speed of change. LS develop homegrown solutions!

What I love about LS is that they align with the four elements of a positive, productive culture: they grow positive awareness, connection, learning and autonomy, and a shared purpose/meaning. The beauty is that you can start liberating structures from any position in an organization, with or without resources, with or without position power. Experience will convince people, so I recommend you try a structure that resonates with you.

The ten principles of Liberating Structures are:
include and unleash everyone
practice deep respect for people and local solutions
never start without a clear purpose
build trust as you go
learn by failing forward
practice self-discovery within a group (awareness)
amplify freedom and responsibility
emphasize possibilities; believe before you see
invite creative destruction to make space for innovation
engage in seriously playful curiosity

Check them out at the Liberating Structures website.

For more insights and tips, order my book Developing a Positive Culture

Check out the online Positive Culture Academy. Let’s be Positive Agents who do revolution by evolution: one interaction at a time, one person at a time. Subscribe to the Academy’s mailing list so I can keep you posted!

Here’s the earlier post
The next post will be up soon!

If you’re confused, check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership is scheduled for September 2018! More information and registration is only a mouse click away.

© Copyright Marcella Bremer, 2018. All rights reserved.

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