Friday, September 23, 2016
Including and unleashing everyone in next steps. I know what you’re probably thinking when you read that phrase.
“Sure that sounds great in theory, but it’s just not practical.”
“That approach would never work in my department.”
“It’s inefficient and would take too much time to listen to everyone’s opinions and ideas.”
I’ll be the first to admit that some of those same thoughts ran through my mind five minutes into the workshop where I was first introduced to Liberating Structures. While I enjoy collaboration, I feel that it is sometimes over-utilized in the workplace, impairing our ability to make quick decisions and progress towards goals. I’m the type of person who loves to see results. So why would I want to potentially slow that process down by encouraging even more discussion and collaboration?
What I didn’t understand at that point in time, but quickly realized after experiencing several of the microstructures, was that Liberating Structures are not just brainstorming techniques or activities. They are powerful, adaptable methods, that provide the right balance between structured and unstructured dialogue. Liberating Structures distribute participation throughout an organization to allow all individuals to provide input, regardless of level or position. The microstructures can be used in a variety of groups to create impactful solutions for a wide array of challenges. One reason that Liberating Structures are so powerful is that they create opportunities for individuals to share ownership of a decision or an idea. Plus, they are extremely easy to learn and use!
It has now been almost two years since I was first introduced to Liberating Structures and I have successfully utilized them in many different settings including departmental meetings, project groups, and training sessions. My go-to microstructure is 1-2-4-ALL because it creates space and opportunities for every individual in a group to provide input. Ecocycle Planning is another great method to identify and mitigate inefficiencies and bottlenecks in a process. The What, So What, Now What? microstructure helps groups reflect on a shared experience and determine next steps together.
While Liberating Structures are easy to learn, their value is quickly realized through experience. Try them at your next meeting and see what happens.
Interested in learning more? Check out the abundance of resources on the Liberating Structures website or in Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless’s book The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash a Culture of Innovation.