The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures

Republished from the website

IntroductionPreview the LS book. Color and B&W versions available on

Learn how simple rules can unleash a culture of innovation.

Portions of this website have been translated: French  German  Dutch  Russian

When you feel included and engaged, do you do a better job?  Do you think teams in which people work well together produce much better results? Have you noticed the best ideas often come from unexpected sources?  Do you want to work at the top of your intelligence and give the same opportunity to others?

If YES, we have found this is the kind of organization and community that people want to be part of. AND, Liberating Structures help make it happen.

So why is it that so many organizations of all stripes are filled with disengaged workers, dysfunctional groups and wasted ideas?

Lofty aims to include and unleash everyone in shaping the future

While there will always be some justification for blaming leaders (or professors and administrators in education), the more compelling and useful explanation is not that people involved are bad, stupid or incompetent, but rather that the practices they have all learned are neither adapted to today’s realities nor designed to achieve the ideals listed above.

Unwittingly, the conventional structures used to organize how people routinely work together stifle inclusion and engagement.

Conventional structures are either too inhibiting (presentations, status reports and managed discussions) or too loose and disorganized (open discussions and brainstorms) to creatively engage people in shaping their own future. They frequently generate feelings of frustration and/or exclusion and fail to provide space for good ideas to emerge and germinate. This means that huge amounts of time and money are spent working the wrong way. More time and money are then spent trying to fix the unintended consequences.

Liberating Structures start with something so simple and essential as not to seem worth doing and end with something so powerful and profound that it hardly seems possible.

A liberating repertoire of 33 methods

This website offers an alternative way to approach and design how people work together. It provides a menu of thirty-three Liberating Structures to replace or complement conventional practices.

Liberating Structures used routinely make it possible to build the kind of organization that everybody wants. They are designed to include everyone in shaping next steps.

Liberating Structures introduce tiny shifts in the way we meet, plan, decide and relate to one another. They put the innovative power once reserved for experts only in hands of everyone.

This alternative approach is both practical and feasible because Liberating Structures are quite simple and easy to learn. They can be used by everyone at every level, from the executive suite to the grassroots. No lengthy training courses or special talents are required. Mastery is simply a matter of practice. LS routinely unleash a vast reserve of contributions and latent innovations waiting to be discovered.




VIDEO: see one Liberating Structure “TRIZ” introduced to a group of doctors, managers, innovators

Every person interested in leading change—in schools, hospitals, foundations, agencies, and businesses—can use Liberating Structures to generate innovation and great results.

Liberating Structures are easy-to-learn microstructures that enhance relational coordination and trust. They quickly foster lively participation in groups of any size, making it possible to truly include and unleash everyone. Liberating Structures are a disruptive innovation that can replace more controlling or constraining approaches.

Click on any Liberating Structure below

Liberating Structures Menu Wicked Questions What, So What, Now What Min Specs Heard, Seen, Respected What I Need from You Integrated Autonomy Design Elements Appreciative Interviews Discovery and Action Dialog Improv Prototyping Drawing Together Open Space Critical Uncertainties 1-2-4-all TRIZ Shift and Share Helping Heuristics Design StoryBoards Generative Relationships Ecocycle Planning Impromptu Networking 15 percent solutions 25 10 Crowdsourcing Conversations Cafe Celebrity Interview Agreement Certainty Matrix Panarchy 9 whys Troika Consulting Wise Crowds User Experience Fishbowl Social network webbing Simple Ethnography Purpose to Practice


Leaders know that they would greatly increase productivity and innovation if only they could get everyone fully engaged. The challenge is how. Liberating Structures are novel, practical and no-nonsense methods to help you accomplish this goal with groups of any size.

Liberating Structures spark inventiveness by minimally structuring the way we interact while liberating content or subject matter. Very simple constraints unleash creative adaptability, generating better than expected results. Individual brilliance and collective wisdom are unbridled. Such a dramatic shift cannot be THAT simple, engaging, and powerful but it is. Read Getting Started if you are ready to liberate yourself.

By design, Liberating Structures distribute control so that participants can shape direction themselves as the action unfolds.

Republished under original site’s Creative Commons License 3.0.  Above is the upper portion of the original website page.

Featured Image added by Enlivening Edge Magazine. Image by MARIE SCHNEIDER from Pixabay