A Conversation with Keith McCandless, Co- creator of Liberating Structures

“I’ve always loved how do you do things, very tool or method-oriented person. Getting there, I think the accomplishments or the path toward it was always kindling, always maintaining that curiosity about what is it that helps people shape their future strategically with others…I think it’s that if there was any one thing, it’s following a thread, following a hunch from the very first position I had and an interest in strategy and shaping the future.”

Keith McCandless, co-developer of Liberating Structures, specializes in working with groups to unleash creativity, discover opportunities, and build on momentum. He calls himself a structured improvisationalist.

In this episode of Control the Room, Douglas speaks with Keith about goat rodeos, grief walking, and prototyping responses to unsafe behaviors. Listen in to find out what’s giving Keith hope right now.

Show Highlights

[7:08] A good invitation has many right answers
[9:43] Prototyping responses to unsafe behaviors
[13:00] The awkwardness of interacting in a new way
[21:42] Grief Walking
[30:21] Newness through restructuring
[35:18] Staying on the horse & preventing a goat rodeo
[39:23] What’s giving Keith hope

Keith on LinkedIn
Liberating Structures

About the Guest

Keith is co-developer of Liberating Structures, co-founder of the Social Invention Group, and co-author of the book The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures – Simple Rules to Unleash a Culture of Innovation (2014). Keith specializes in helping organizations to innovate and manage complexity by working with groups to unleash creativity, discover opportunities, and build on momentum. His eclectic skills have been honed with groups all over the world, and are grounded in organization development, complexity science, business strategy, and graphic facilitation—all with an improvisational twist. He calls himself a structured improvisationalist.

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a facilitation agency that helps teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings. 

Subscribe to Podcast

Engage Control The Room

Voltage Control on the Web
Contact Voltage Control

Podcast Sponsored by MURAL

Full Transcript

Douglas: Welcome to the Control The Room Podcast, the series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures for the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting.

This episode is brought to you by MURAL, a digital workspace for visual collaboration. At Voltage Control, we use MURAL to facilitate engaging and productive meetings and workshops from anywhere. MURAL gives teams the means, methods, and freedom to collaborate visually. Use their suite of facilitation superpowers to control the virtual room and solve tough problems as a team with their pre-built templates and guided methods. To see for yourself why companies like IBM, Atlassian, and E*TRADE rely on MURAL, start your 30-day trial at mural.co. That’s mural.co.

Today I’m with Keith McCandless, creator of Liberating Structures and coauthor of the book The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash a Culture of Innovation. Welcome to the show, Keith.

Start our Design Thinking Foundations course today!

Learn and practice Design Thinking to help your team solve problems and seize opportunities.

Keith: Thanks, Douglas. Really thrilled to be here.

Douglas: Just so our listeners have a little bit of context, I’m really curious to hear how you got started and found yourself in the position to create Liberating Structures, write the book, and become the powerhouse in the facilitation world that you are today.

Keith: I think it’s born out of curiosity. My start in every position that led up to curating rather than creating, I think I’ve helped to curate the Liberating Structures, was a researcher in education, responsibility, a job where I was helping people learn and research what could move things forward, what could help them primarily in the healthcare space, healthcare domain. That involved strategy and policy and then a research and education foundation that I helped start and was an executive director of.

Through all those multiple positions and then trying to run an organization myself, a small foundation, was searching for methodologies. I’ve always loved how do you do things, very tool or method-oriented person. Getting there, I think the accomplishments or the path toward it was always kindling, always maintaining that curiosity about what is it that helps people shape their future strategically with others. So from that foundation job up here in Seattle, I live in Seattle, I took a position at an applied research think tank down in San Francisco and was the person who organized learning groups and, again, deepening strategy and at some point bumped into a new theory, complexity science or a new type of science that opened my mind to very different approaches.

I think it’s that if there was any one thing, it’s following a thread, following a hunch from the very first position I had and an interest in strategy and shaping the future. So Douglas, how’s that for a start?

Douglas: So great. It reminds me of, as you talk about complexity and this notion of emergent phenomenon, I know one of the tenets of Liberating Structures that I’m super fond of is distribution of control. I remember at the first Control The Room Conference, you and I were speaking off to the side and we were discussing the importance of distribution of control and power. You were pointing out that our keynote speaker, Priya Parker, was such an amazing facilitator and her ability just to captivate the room.

Your point was that the Liberating Structures can distribute that power without having to have that amazing personality involved.

Keith: There are a few people that I don’t want to liberate, that don’t need to distribute. I mean they speak directly to your complex mind and your experience and they help you connect parts of yourself to the situation, and Priya’s one of those people where she’s so good at that that there’s no … Anyone can learn how to distribute control. It’s never easy. I mean I love control. If control could get me to great results in all the settings in which I work, I would use it. I just couldn’t get great results by holding certain types of control.

Now, you and I both know that Liberating Structures, you do control some very small, minimal things, like group size and how long. There’s fast cycles and you control a small number of things tightly. But subject matter and the direction that the people go to shape what they’re going to do next is not in your control at all. If it is, you’re screwing up. So it isn’t as if we’re redefining what’s important to control. It turns out it’s a small number of fairly…what could seem trivial things that make a big difference.

Douglas: Yeah. I think it’s that notion that it seems trivial is why so many people mess it up. They focus on controlling the wrong things and there are these simple things that if they just paid attention to and got really specific about, it could unleash so much.

Keith: Practice makes perfect. You’re a user and you know that you get better over time at making a really good invitation. A good invitation has many right answers. Many options start to emerge if you have a good invitation. You get a sense of how smart people are together and how quickly you can move from self-reflection to work in a pair to a group of four and then generate something that the whole group should hear. The practicing that cadence, which seems like it wouldn’t make that much difference, makes you better and better and better quickly.

You appear to be a magician or you have some special powers as a facilitator or a leader. You’re paying attention to these, we call them micro-organizing design elements that are pretty straightforward, but it’s easy to mess them up a little bit or focus on something else. It’s very easy to do that. Yeah.

Douglas: Thinking back to the last time we had a really lengthy conversation, it was right before the pandemic really hit the US. Living in Austin, South by Southwest is an annual event and a big deal. We were all watching it closely because all the big conferences in Europe were just starting to close and shut down, but South-by was still planning to go ahead as planned. We were invited to facilitate a workshop to explore what does it mean to attend a big conference in the face of a pandemic.

So you were really instrumental in helping me think about how to walk into that conversation with eyes wide open and support that dialogue.

Keith: Well, I appreciated having a chance to chat with you about it because it was a monumental moment in time. I guess monumental and moment have some relationship in the language. But we’re still figuring that out seven months later, eight months later. We’re still figuring out how to exercise precautions in any size group really. But kids are going back to school. What we talked about I thought was practical and interesting. We still haven’t resolved a lot of it. The kinds of things we were discussing was how could people practice precautions? How could they learn how to do that?

How could we prototype behaviors and respond to unsafe behaviors in a setting like South by Southwest? We’re still there. How do we support each other? When we see somebody who has their mask down and coughs and doesn’t cough into their elbow, how do we respond to that? There’s a whole series, what I learned from doing work in infection control – mostly MRSA…anyway – other infectious diseases, is that some people have behaviors that are very safe and they do things differently. Somehow we have to uncover, well, how do you safely go to a large event? Is there a way to do that?

Who is figuring that out? The basic rules that we can learn about clean surfaces, try to stay in ventilated areas, wear a mask, once you’ve learned those things, that’s all that the science has to offer. Everything else is our creative adaptation to the situations we face locally. So when you were interested like, “How could we help people think through South by Southwest if we go forward?” It’s like, “Well, what more creative group of people could there be on the planet than the South by Southwest group organizers in Austin?” So that’s why I got a big smile and was so happy to chat with you about that.

Douglas: The thing that really stood out to me as we did that and I watched the improv prototyping unfold, it became clear to me that it’s not only the tapping into the creative abilities to come up with new solutions, that it’s about creating muscle memory about these ways that we might want to behave when the moment strikes because it can be very daunting to respond to something when you’re not prepared or haven’t thought about it. So if you’ve already done that creative work ahead of time and practiced it a bit, then it can be much easier to do those things when you encounter them.

Keith: Some of it’s awkward. It’s awkward the first time you do it. Did you notice your mask is askew? Is that a good way to say it, even just thinking it out loud? So practicing those things and finding in a large group, any size group, if you’re on Zoom or whatever it is, you can prototype a behavior and a conversation that would help people and start to discover ways to interact that are really safe in all the settings in which they’re working. So I don’t know in companies.

I’ve done it a little bit. I’ve recently been working with residential communities, older people who are being taken care of in residential homes. There’s a business that has 40 or 50 of them across the South. So we were working on finding those behaviors that solve the problem. We used a wicked question. Douglas, I think you’ll be interested in this. We used a wicked question to frame it. How is it that we’re as safe as possible? We’re creating for our residents. We’re creating as much safety and it will increase over time even as we are drawing out all the vitality and joy possible for our residents.

So the two opposite or in creative tension or paradoxical elements are that joy and vitality and safety, which seemingly if you’re locked in your room most of the time, which it’s … Isolation is for real. It’s one pretty safe way to do it. Simultaneously, how do you work with all the precautions and the isolation and draw out the joy and vitality in the lives of people who are in these communities? That focus made it possible for every function within this business, the dining staff, the engagement, the physical plant folks, the even accounting, the technology people, everyone was focused on how do we get more of both of those in our business?

It’s a business strategy. The wicked question shapes if we’re going to be successful in the future. People want to have their parents or you choose, if you’re older, you choose to go to one of these communities. It may very well be the hunch that we’re working with. It may very well be about, well, how vital, how joyful, and simultaneously how safe is this place that I’m going to live? We’re in a moment in time in which wicked questions can make a big difference, can help sharpen our observation, sharpen our strategy, make our businesses or our work more effective.

So when we first did the South by Southwest thinking, I’m still working on that. There’s no end in sight to helping people organize safely and be successful at the same time.

Douglas: It’s also a time that we spoke about it requiring there’s just deeper consequences right now to a lot of things. We’re not only dealing with a pandemic, but there are social issues at hand and just lots of layered things. We were discussing earlier about this notion of connection and then lack of access and isolation. So how can we be connected and isolated at the same time? Not that isolation’s a goal, but it is a situation we’re in and we’re having to live through that.

I was really just struck by your points around just having to even rethink collaboration partners in this time of reevaluating our privilege.

Keith: Deep sigh. Yeah. I’m feeling it. I think you’re feeling it. Because of our privileged positions, I have, I think you have an opportunity to be very connected with more people. It’s been a bit of a surprise, but that kind of connection comes through technology, the depth of relationship possible. With the technologies, maybe I took them a little bit for granted before, but now I see. I’m more connected than ever and I’m really extending relationships and deepening them and being able to do things that I wasn’t sure were possible with clients and colleagues.

This is while I’m acutely aware of people who are isolated, are blocked from access to the technology, that are falling out of relationship with a diverse set of other people and can’t find a way to connect. So that isolation in this moment, I’m feeling it acutely and I’ve noticed it in other people too that some people are very connected and deepening their relationships and others are isolated and falling out of relationships with others. That’s a wicked question. How is it that I can use my connection and the deepening of my relationships with others even as I’m working or attending to those that don’t have access and are blocked from, are isolated from others?

So just trying to broaden my own reaching out more, broaden my own network of people I work with, address issues that are really hard. Maybe you have clients like this too. But we’re having business problems. We need to rebuild our market. We want to address racial and social equity in how we operate. And how the pandemic has thrown our…We don’t even know how to get any work done right now. We need to learn really how to use these online and virtual technologies to get things done. So all of that’s happening at the same time. It’s a good challenge. I really enjoy it.

I’m imagining you’re enjoying it too. In some way, you’re finding the challenge to be good for you. Is that true, Douglas?

Douglas: Yeah. I’m there with you. There’s moments where I have to echo that big sigh and just acknowledge the weight of the situation. But I’m always been one to walk straight into a challenge and see it as a massive opportunity, whether that’s-

Keith: I know that about you. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who bumps into you. But yeah.

Douglas: But that being said, there’s a lot of weight to this. Even though I see it as we can fix this, it’s like people are suffering. I don’t always have the time to invest that I’d like. I feel like there’s so much more I could do, but just dealing with trying to keep my own sanity, there are things I have to consider. So it’s a big struggle. That’s a wicked question in itself. How can I take care of myself while also being a great ally?

Keith: Yeah. Yeah. Keep that in your mind and try to act on both being a great ally and take care of yourself. I know we’re working together on something that’s a little for everyone, but also selfishly, for ourselves, take care of ourselves. So it’s the Grief Walking, a Liberating Structure that has been in development a while, but we’re trying to make it virtually accessible. There’s quite a bit. The reason I’m excited about it is we need to tap social support in regard to losses to take care of ourselves. How do we work with loss?

So as much as I want to help make that Liberating Structure reliable for the community to use to tap social support, to address loss, also doing it for myself. I mean I need a way to work with loss in my life and just handle all of the things going on. So I really appreciate your allyship on the Grief Walking. It’s an important potential new Liberating Structure. I’m not sure it’s going to make it into the repertoire, but it’s definitely worth prototyping.

Douglas: Yeah. From the get-go, I thought the … I think I first heard about this from Fisher about a year ago. I thought the turn-taking on the cadence of how you move people through the space and through the content was really fascinating because I thought that was unique in itself and giving those people the opportunities to kind of follow those that they might want to go deeper with was a less arbitrary way of splitting people into groups.

Keith: Yeah. Yeah. That’s an example of something where I think grief walking, the importance of it or helping people work with loss, it’s the right time to work on that. I think it wasn’t prioritized before the pandemic. So one thing that made it clear to me that I needed to work on that again, one of the clients starts their big … I got invited to a series of their meetings. It’s a business that’s a health and … Anyway, they start their meetings, I thought it was going to be a prayer. I didn’t know the client very well and I thought maybe they’d start with a prayer because some organizations do that kind of thing.

But they started with statistics around how many positive COVID tests, how many staff and how many customers, residents are sick or have died. And then we were going to have immediately following this just set of statistics, we’re going to have a business meeting. I’m like, “Well, wait a second there. I’m still working on what you just said. I can’t move on completely before we do something about the losses that you just specified.” So again, that’s a little bit of a selfish thing of there’s some Liberating Structures that I think we need right now that aren’t really in the repertoire and can make a unique contribution to the field.

That’s on me. It’s on you. It’s on other people to have the courage to try those things. It’s a big deal. It feels more important to me now because of what we’re … We’re just trying to creatively adapt to this moment and we’re not at the end of a whole bunch of losses that need to be addressed somehow.

Douglas: That’s right. I think as we spoke earlier, it’s a time of reexamining in general, whether it be looking at how we think about loss, dealing with the loss that we’re facing or we just experienced, but even just thinking about how our purpose has shifted or how we need to just walk around in this new space. We talked a bit about wicked questions already. But certainly, there are things like critical uncertainties, eco cycle, what I need from you, that I think are very poignant right now.

Keith: Yeah. They’re my go-to. They aren’t normally where I would start with any client, but now I’m when I have … I try to influence my clients. They design their own agendas and what they want to learn about or what they want to work with, but I do push and pull a little bit. It’s pretty easy to get an eco cycle, a what I need from you, critical uncertainty, which are all let’s reexamine the whole way we’ve organized. Let’s go right at our portfolio, if it’s … Let’s look at our whole portfolio if it’s eco cycle.

Let’s look at all of the interrelationships among the functions and what we need from each other, with what I need from you. If it’s wicked questions, we need to face up to this paradoxical challenge or face it down, or face up to it and then face it down. So you take those critical uncertainties. Wow, if we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s let’s not put all of our eggs in one basket. So we need to reexamine that we can’t predict the future.

Critical uncertainties let you explore different plausible futures. So we have a much sharper understanding of what our next move is that’s not going to over invest in one scenario or in one vision of where we’ll end up. Rather, how are we going to operate successfully whatever future unfolds? So for me, those were more down the line in the development in my relationship with clients. Their development usually would be things that we would do later. Let’s put that off. That’s too much for now. No, the choice is, no, now. We need to examine the whole thing in-depth now.

So it’s been a little overwhelming for me to do the kinds of consulting work I do, which is still mostly what I’m … I do some writing, but mostly I’m doing consulting work. It’s either a sigh or I’m swallowing loudly. I don’t know. You probably can’t hear it on the recording. But it’s like, “Oh my God. Can I do that?” It takes some courage from the client and from me to like, “Let’s reexamine the whole way we’re operating and how we’re going to move forward.” So it’s…whew.

Douglas: Yeah, it’s interesting. Not only are you asking them to reexamine, you’re having to reexamine how you approach the facilitation and the workshop design because you’re doing things in a different order because there are different needs and different concerns at the moment. In fact, I run into this too. I’m using structures I’ve never used before. In fact, I never really used Generative Relationships STAR, but I found that to be really helpful right now as teams are trying to understand the new dynamics.

In fact, there’s this really interesting phenomenon I’m seeing across a lot of companies where they’ve gone through restructuring because there’s downsizing or there’s this newness about the organization. They’re restructured in the midst of remote working for the first time. So they never had an opportunity to go through this teaming. They don’t really feel like they even belong on the team because they don’t know their identity in the team. They haven’t formed those relationships.

So exposing some of that in a very formulaic and tool way, I found to be kind of illuminating for folks.

Keith: Yeah. Gen STAR would be Generative Relationships STAR helps their … Just within the Zoom or whatever platform is being used, I spend more time on relationship-building, particularly across functions. Maybe it was easier before the pandemic to just operate each function independently and then the leadership would iron out the difficulties. That doesn’t really work that…It’s accentuated the degree to which it’s good to have the different functions definitely know what the other functions do, if not have some of the same capabilities.

Douglas: I love the fact that you used the word, accentuate, because I’ve been saying for a while now that it’s not that remote work has created new dysfunction. The dysfunction was always there. It just accentuated it. It just made it really, really clear that we aren’t great at collaborating. Even though we hold collaboration as a core value, we define collaboration as just talking a bunch. So now that we try to do that same stuff virtually it becomes very, very clear that these things are dysfunctional and don’t work for us. So there has to be new ways to approach it.

Keith: Well, whatever it takes to deepen the relationships. One thing I don’t know if you’ve used What I Need From You very much. But I was with a client. I’ll leave them unnamed. But we were doing a big What I Need From You and sort of in your bailiwick, the information technology group within a very large, well-known organization. They’re reasonably polite people. And we went through, you know there’s here’s what I need from you, this function to that function and back and forth. They all get to ask for something, the thing that they need to be successful strategically in the organization.

We went through. There were seven different functions. It was a great experience. The choices in response to the request are, yes, no, huh, which is I don’t know what even … That’s not clear what you’ve just asked me for, what you need your function for us to succeed, and then, whatever. There were a whole bunch of, in this particular organization, there were a bunch of huhs and many of them were actually whatevers, but they were too polite to say whatever to each other. I kind of went, “I think maybe that was lovingly, provocatively both. I think that may have been a whatever.” 

They said, “Well, we can’t say whatever. We just can’t do that.” But you could hear in the tone and in the relationship that that was what … You failed to understand our function at all. It was a bit disrespectful what you asked for and I’m going to give you a huh which really means a whatever as a response to what you asked for. That’s the beginning of a better relationship. I mean it might be a little harsh, but that’s the kind of thing that gets revealed, is more apparent now in the midst of this pandemic. It’s accentuated by the situation we’re in.

There’s more to fix. Total job security, Douglas, for you into the future. There’s a lot to work on, a lot to work on.

Douglas: A little bit of a shift here because I wanted to bring up one of my favorite articles that happened to be penned by you. It’s called Falling Off the Horse. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in there that first time and even an experienced facilitator should reflect on. So I was just curious if you just have any … When I bring that up, what comes to mind as some advice you might have for facilitators out there that are just trying to stay on the horse?

Keith: Yeah. Well, be kind to yourself. Recognize that at an inappropriate moment you may try to control something that you can’t control and it’s not going to help. You have to own it a bit. But in that moment of recognizing that you’ve tried to over control, you’ve fallen back into over under-control, forgive yourself, if possible, as quickly as possible. So that could take the shape, just to be more specific about it, one could be you get to a place where you don’t know what to do so you say, “Well, let’s just open it up to everybody, anybody that wants to say anything.”

That’s an invitation to a goat rodeo. You know what a goat rodeo is, but it’s a few people are going to get into a little argument over something and it’ll go on and on and on. It won’t be productive. But you, as the leader, I don’t even think of what we do as facilitator anymore. It’s just you’re leading the group. You had no structure in mind. You gave no structure other than the goat rodeo, which is open discussion, usually not productive. So forgive yourself that you weren’t ready and you fell into that trap.

On the other side, it’s like, “Well, it’s not going anywhere. I need to seize control again and I need to make the decisions for the group.” This could take the form of a presentation or just a decision or you rely on a consultant to come in, swoop in and save everything with a best practice imported from somewhere else. So those are things, they happen. You should try to avoid them if you can, if you’re serious about this kind of work, and forgive yourself, if you can, for it because it’s a developmental path where you gain increasing confidence in the group to solve its own problems and shape its own solutions too.

You become more and more confident in suggesting simple structures that help the group be awesomely creative and adaptive. And then you get out of those two ways to fall off the horse. On the one side, the, “Let’s open it up for everyone,” or, “Now we’re not getting anywhere so I need to intervene with my personal wisdom.” So that’s one version of trying to address falling off the horse, because it’ll happen. It’ll happen.

Douglas: I personally love this metaphor of leaning in and leaning out. How can you find that balance in the middle? Because if you lean in too much or import those best practices, you fail. If you lean out too much, then there’s the goat rodeo. Sometimes you even invite it. You lean in in the way that allows you to lose every bit of minute control that you want to have.

Keith: Yeah. Yeah.

Douglas: So Keith, I guess in a wrap-up here, I’d love to hear from you about where you’re seeing hope or just maybe even a recent discovery that’s making you curious and seeing new opportunity.

Keith: Well, the longer-term hope and dream, which I hope and believe is possible, is to bring the structures out of use for the special meeting or the workshop or the whatever, into everyday how we operate.  So some things that give me hope that I’m doing, that I’m taking a risk on, I guess, is always with clients, start with a design group, a broadly composed- It can be pretty big, small or big, but doesn’t really matter. But they’re people that are going to take responsibility for co-leading the event that we’re planning or the activity.

It could be a special thing or we could be integrating into a regular meeting or whatever form it is. I’d start to distribute control, leadership, share leadership immediately with a group of people who often have zero experience with Liberating Structures. The amount of time that it goes from, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” to, “Keith, get out of the way, I’m doing this and you aren’t doing this,” is getting less and less and less. I’ve had some really fun experiences where I thought I was going to be leading for longer and I really got shooed to the side.

That is what gives me hope, that people can quickly learn the approaches, bring them into their events, and start to bring them into their everyday work, how they organize everything. So recently, I was working on a digital transformation. I was working on a business transfor- You know, it seems like everybody’s transforming everything. Because of this shakeup, because of the pandemic and all the other things that are going on, there’s more openness to really looking at everything and transforming everyday work. I can see it. I could feel it, the passion of the people involved.

That transfer to people right in the midst, right on the front line and their leaders and their formal leaders in the organization, that’s what gives me hope and it’s what I believe is possible as these things, the Liberating Structures transform from methods that you have to learn to this is just how we operate. This is how we run our organization. That’s the big thing for me.

Douglas: I think that’s huge. We’ve been really focused on meetings as an evergreen problem because as I thought about leverage and impact in systemic problems and huge global problems that exist everywhere, how can we with our tiny abilities in this global scale make a big impact? I think it’s the fact that everyone spends so much of their time in meetings. If we can address those deficiencies, perhaps we can have a huge impact overall. So I love that your passion right now is thinking about how not only for the bigger gatherings or the bigger challenges, how it can get imbibed into everyday interactions.

Keith: Yeah. I see it happen all the time. Even more hopeful in some ways is the people that are brave enough to bring it into their personal life. So when people are using a wicked question or a generative relationship on themselves or on their loved ones-

Douglas: My wife loves it when I what, so-now-what her.

Keith: Yeah. Well, you got to watch. You got to be very careful that you’re not controlling. It’s a good lesson for don’t fall off the horse with your family. They know the moment you’re controlling them. People are acutely aware of when they’re being over controlled and you’re not going to get away with that. It’s just not going to work. But yeah, those are things I’m infinitely patient on, the transformation from these are some special things that you use every so often to it’s just how you roll and whatever.

There’s one good quality of this work and I imagine you’re there exactly with me is it starts to take over more of just how you are or how you see things, just by using the methods. There doesn’t have to be a big philosophy. There’s no manifesto for Liberating Structures. There’s just methods that increase your confidence that we can pull this together. We can organize differently and we can pull together creative and adaptive responses to any challenge. So confidence builds over time and that’s a beautiful thing worth working on.

Douglas: So Keith, in closing, I’m curious if you have any message or anything to leave our listeners with.

Keith: I think the important thing if you … We’ve talked about all these, the more complicated Liberating Structures. Just try one on for size if you haven’t. Simplicity, starting with the simple things is good. I think rolling up your sleeves, it takes a little courage to use any Liberating Structure because you’re no longer controlling the subject matter. You’re no longer controlling what shape, the adaptation, or the sets of decisions. So you’ve got to be able to let go a little bit and believe that something better will come out of engaging everyone.

So that courage to do that only comes through practice. It’s not like, “Ta-duh. Now I get it.” So build your repertoire, I think, is the thing I want to say. If you don’t have one now, start with 1-2-4-All and build up toward some of these other ones we’ve talked about during this podcast that are more elaborate, that look at more of the fabric of the organization. It’s increasing doses of courage and practice that makes it possible to really believe that more is possible and that it’s … It’ll give you hope. It gives me hope. It keeps me going through the hard time that we’re having. 

That’s my message, Douglas. Thanks for asking that. It took me a second to figure out what my message is right now, but I think that’s it. Yeah.

Douglas: Excellent.

Keith: Build up your courage and your repertoire at the same time.

Douglas: Well, Keith, it’s been fantastic talking with you today as always. I hope we share a chat again sometime soon.

Keith: We will, Douglas. Thanks again.

Douglas: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control The Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want more, head over to our blog where I post weekly articles and resources about working better together, voltagecontrol.com.

Looking to connect with Voltage Control

Let's get the conversation rolling and find out how we can help!