#WEUCEU Session Liberating Structures




Liberating Structures #weuceu

Lately at the Web Engineering Unconference Europe in Palma de Mallorca. I asked the audience: Are you familiar with Liberating Structures? – „No.“ – Do you like to learn more about a set of moderation techniques designed to involve everybody? – „Yes!“ – Here we go…

In this article I will introduce you to three tools of the Liberating Structures that already help you a lot to inspire interaction and participation in a group meeting, workshop or seminar.

1. What are Liberating Structures?

Liberating Structures is a set of 33 easy-to-learn microstructures that are focused on improving interactions among each other as well as participation of all participants. Henri Lipmanowicz & Keith McCandless started the collection, the development and detailed description of these moderation tools. The structures always enable the reflection of the participants‘ own view before sharing with others, thereby involving everyone’s thoughts, ideas or opinions.

Liberating Structures Menu
Liberating Structures Menu

Don’t be afraid, the structures require no experts and only a few minutes of introduction. As a beginner you and your meetings or workshops can quickly benefit from working with Liberating Structures. The concise yet detailed descriptions help you to make the right choice and prepare the perfect introduction for the participants.

2. Start into the session: ‚Triz‘

As lots of us are more and more involved in hybrid meetings, seminars or workshops, I selected the topic ‚How to make hybrid meetings great‘ as a practical example.

Instead of thinking from this angle, we approached the topic from the exact opposite: I invited everyone to join me in a headstand. Everybody smiled when I said that. First positive outcomes: positive emotions, successfully reaching everyone. The session participants were immediately much more relaxed, when they were invited to reflect on the question in a completely twisted way.

Ok, so we collected what makes hybrid meetings or workshops go south. To collect the findings, I shared a Padlet Online Whiteboard with the group (great: Padlet offers you a QR code, which I showed around in my tablet). The entries were made anonymously without registration. Second outcome: Everybody is in. And with the Liberating Structure ‚Triz‘ it’s always like that. There is no right or wrong, everyone feels able to reflect on this.

This is what we found out about a hybrid meeting mess:

What makes Hybrid Meetings a Mess
What makes Hybrid Meetings a Mess • WEUCEU Session

3. Make hybrid Meetings great: ‚1-2-4-All‘

After this round we knew what to avoid. Prepared with this knowledge, it is much easier to find recommendations for a great hybrid meeting experience. To collect the ‚Top 3 measures to make a hybrid meeting great (again)‘ while involving everyone in the group I used the Liberating Structure ‚1-2-4-All‘. A really valuable method you should know about.

‚1-2-4-All‘ means:

  1. Each participant has 1 Minute to think about the question and personal answers.
  2. In pairs, they discuss their respective recommendations and agree on their joint top 3 measures (2 minutes)
  3. In Groups of four participants they share their findings and agree on the group’s top 3 measures (4 minutes).
  4. All • On a flipchart we collected the top 3 measures jointly selected in the different groups.

Here’s the flipchart with the collectively gathered “Top 3 to make hybrid meetings great (again)” while experiencing the liberating structure ‘1-2-4-All’ in session at #weuceu

1-2-4-ALL Hybrid Meetings
1-2-4-ALL „Make Hybrid Meetings great“ weuceu22

To me the outcome of ‚1-2-4-All‘ is huge:

  • Everyone gets a minute in which he/she thinks about the question, no one interferes, no one dominates.
  • Through the exchange in groups of 2, even crazy ideas can be expressed without immediately losing face. Shy, introverted people have less difficulty getting involved.
  • After discussing in pairs, it is no longer recognisable in the group of 4 who originally had which idea, and it is easier for many to discuss it.
  • And only in the joint final round does everything come together, feedback from both more introverted and more dominant personalities.

4. Ending with next steps

At the end of the session I invited everyone to note down, what they will do differently starting with tomorrow. This structure is called ‚15% Solutions‚ to make it clear to participants that there is no reason not to apply what they have learned.

There is always at least one tiny step you can take – without asking permission, without asking for help. And in the case of our session’s topic, I hope this will help making lots of hybrid meetings or workshops less awkward.

5. Liberating Structures: App

And yes, there’s an app for that: LISA, the Liberating Structures App!

Liberating Structures mobile app
Liberating Structures mobile App LISA for Android & iOS

As facilitator and moderator, I love this app:

  • It’s always quickly at hand: If things are not going well in a meeting, find a structure during a break.
  • Structure filter: Search the structures with individual conditions in terms of duration and objectives.
  • Intercultural: The descriptions of the Liberating Structures are available in many languages.

If you are already familiar with Liberating Structures: What is your favourite structure? Tell me in the comments!

6. Thank you

👌 Big THANKS to all for session participation and interaction. (I was already afraid to stay alone, as the cool session ‚Family Scrum‘ I had also chosen earlier was in the same time slot…)

Also a big THANK YOU to the Web Engineering Unconference team for an unforgettable barcamp atmosphere!


Photos / screenshots by DoSchu as well as provided by Web Engineering Unconference (Joschua Ziethen, Yet Another Agency)

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#WEUCEU Session Liberating Structures

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(de) Hier bloggen Doris (DoSchu) & Rainer über Coworking, Coworkation, „work anywhere“ sowie aus dem Coworking Space Rayaworx in Santanyí
(en) Doris (DoSchu) & Rainer blog about coworking, coworkation, work anywhere, and news from the coworking space Rayaworx Mallorca

Doris & Rainer Rayaworx Mallorca
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