At Voltage Control we are Liberating Structures enthusiasts. Why? If you have to ask, we have a series of Murals for you. In all seriousness, there are many frameworks that allow facilitators to deliver participatory decision-making. We feel strongly that Liberating Structures has an approach to address almost any challenge you may have to overcome. We created Murals for the activities we use most often and hope you enjoy using them as much as we do.
The best advice we can offer up is to begin with the goal/the mission/the problem you are looking to solve. Liberating Structures activities tend to follow a pattern of individual work, small group collaboration, and larger group sharing. Clustering and Voting are staples, but keep in mind that each of the Murals below targets a specific need–choose carefully and iterate at speed.
1-2-4-All is a fantastic way to harness the thoughts from a group of people. It can be difficult to run this exercise in virtual settings, so we created the Concentric Consensus templates (for various group sizes) as an easier-to-use adaption for the virtual landscape.
Clarify how your team can organize themselves to adapt creatively and scale up for success. Starting with purpose and ending in practice, you'll add stickies to each category, cluster & sort them, then vote one step at a time. After each step, ask, "What can we revise about previous steps based on what we now know?” Consider a What, So What, Now What after Purpose to Practice.
Determine where our most important activities fit in the larger context among other activities as you plot projects across the ecocycle continuum of Renewal, Maturity, Creative Destruction, and Birth. Achieve clarity on resources and identify where investments are being placed across an organization with a broad portfolio. Ideally, activities are of a similar scale and share a domain.
Surface essential needs across functions and accept or reject requests for support.
10x10 Writing rapidly engages everyone in generating ideas for next steps, increases our understanding of the present context, or reflects on ideas, opportunities, or challenges.
This activity builds a shared understanding of how people develop different perspectives, ideas, and rationales for actions and decisions. Enable trust and reduce fear by learning together. This helps to identify communications breakdowns and helps participants sort data and interpretation.
Increase the degree that a team can become more self-managing and autonomous. Promote moving toward a common understanding of the way participants share patterns of interaction. Identify who is doing what and how they approach delivery.
Test the viability of current strategies and build capacity to respond quickly to future challenges. This activity will not produce a plan to be implemented, but rather it will build resilience. It allows a team to shape a system and to prepare teams to respond to disruptions. The activity also enables teams to predict future scenarios and act in a distributed fashion.
The goal of this activity is to sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic. Challenges that are duplicated by multiple individuals should be consolidated. Explore items that appear to fit into more than one category. Highlight the range and the nature of the challenges facing people in the organization.
Encourage Anti-Patterns to unlock value and question the status-quo. Do not identify net-new behaviors. Instead, focus on the worst-case scenario associated with the way your team functions, your product, project, or service offering.
In a series of three quick round-robin “consultations,” individuals ask for help and get advice immediately from two peers. Peer-to-peer coaching helps with discovering everyday solutions, revealing patterns, and refining prototypes. This is a simple and effective way for people to support one another without a formal management structure.
Help a group shift from an either-or to a both-and mindset. Focusing the group on a discussion on how to be both integrated and autonomous encourages everyone to move beyond the paradox of conflicting perspectives and find novel solutions that sharpen strategic capabilities. Use this tool to avoid the erratic swings in strategic focus that frequently plague many organizations.
Use this template when you want to evaluate a new method or a tweak to an existing structure. We use the 10 Principles of LS to assess if the session lived up to the values core to liberating structures. We'll collect feedback on how to adjust our approach for next time.
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