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Global Flipchart #11



April 2018

Liberating positive change - one meeting at a time

By Anja Ebers

One of my ambitions as a process guide and facilitator is to plant a seed within the group that it can be fulfilling and effective to work together and tap the full potential of everyone present. If it’s not people who suck but the processes they’re in and the habits they’ve learned then we are able to change it.

I am hoping groups approach their day-to-day meetings with a bit more attention on the purpose they came together for and the task of the people they pulled together.

In optimistic moments I even envision them trying out something different to the normal Powerpoint dumps followed by a dull question-and-answer session. In my most hopeful and optimistic moments I envision my contribution to positive change like a contagious rhythm you can’t get out of your head, a bit compared to what Giorgio Moroder did with his “click” to the sound of the future.

Two years ago, looking for safe environments to experiment with facilitation practices, I discovered a user group for Liberating Structures, a repertoire of 33+ “micro-structures” for group situations.

[LS Menue on]

When you look through the list of structures, you’ll find several familiar formats.

Liberating Structures’ beauty isn’t their extraordinariness but rather their inclusive approach.

The curators of the structures, Keith McCandless, Henri Lipmanowicz and a growing number of super-users are testing each nascent structure in development before it makes it to the main menu.

Keith: “These very small structures are carefully designed to include everybody in shaping next steps. They are composed with modularity in mind: the parts can be arranged and re-arranged in novel combinations. To reach productive endpoints, each can be used separately or together in strings and are simple enough to reconfigure as you go.”

Page from the Learning Journal for the LS Immersion Workshop in Berlin]

Whereas in the beginning I combined my go-to-methods with a liberating structure now and then, with the “Click” in mind, I now try to be more inclusive with my process design and use structures that participants can look up after the facilitated meeting and then apply themselves.

Applicability is inscribed into the design principles of LS so each of them is safe enough to try even for someone new to the practice.

As a result, I observe myself stringing together the whole meeting using liberating structures more and more often.

The structures are contagious: Inspired by our use of What, So what, Now What  after presentations at a strategy away-day of a team, a client uses this structure in their cross-organisational meetings to reflect on presentations and get a grip on how they will use the information going forward.

[Photo by Keith McCandless]

True to the participatory approach of the inventors, there is a growing community of practice around the globe that experiments and learns in local user groups or connects over Slack to share field stories, coordinate work together, discover new uses of liberating structures, and, most importantly, give and get help.

If a client really wants to tend to the little seed I planted, there are many ways for him to grow and expand on their own or with me as a companion - which is the kind of work I am trying to do more of.


Anja Ebers believes that we can make work fulfilling for all by re-writing and de-bugging the way we communicate and collaborate. As a self-employed process guide and facilitator she is enabling people to be great since 2001, drawing from her experience as a manager and account director for digital communications services and from enabling quickly growing companies to transform their organization. A common interest of her clients is the evolution of the way they communicate and collaborate and how the organization has to transform to make it happen. Anja on Twitter