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Empower your team for self-organization – using Liberating Structures

Principles and Motivation We believe that an empowered team is balanced between over-control and chaos. Our guiding theme for this session is the question what groups and individuals can do to support the habit of staying on the figurative horse of disciplined self-organization. We would like to introduce participants to Liberating Structures - a set of 33 patterns that have proven tremendously useful in aiding teams on their way towards true self-organization - as a first step towards finding the ideal balance between freedom and control within teams and companies. We believe we can offer the community something entirely new and immensely helpful.

Our motivation for facilitating this session is to fill a glaring void we have encountered time and time again during our work as Agile Coaches and ScrumMasters. With the introduction of Scrum many companies see very good first results and get curious about deeper self-organization. Most ScrumMasters lack the tools to address this, however, and only focus on making managers relinquish some of their power. But then what? We often see a cycle of too little control and too much control happening in daily interactions - too little structure and then too much structure again. The dream of true self-organization is built on a shaky fundament of ideals, unsupported by the right tools to make it a lasting and productive way of working together.

With Liberating Structures it’s possible to include and unleash everybody, make every voice heard and still get amazing results in record time. Liberating Structures introduce tiny shifts to the way people interact in daily life which build the foundation for deeper democratic patterns to emerge. These exercises are easy to learn and use and wicked fun when done correctly. We believe deeply in self-organization, but have struggled with successful implementations ourselves. Liberating Structures have been revelatory to us and we would like to share this experience with the wider community, contributing a tiny part towards building a more enjoyable workspace (and finally killing boring meetings in the progress).

During the proposed session we will be using exercises from the Liberating Structures menu exclusively (except for a short introduction) since we want participants to understand how they can transform the way groups interacts. Instead of showing slides about them we will use these exercises to make the effect felt. They are highly interactive, so we expect this session to be extremely immersive and create an immediate a-ha moment in the participants. Novel and innovative solutions will be found together with the attendants, giving us as facilitators the chance to learn something new as well.

Just to clarify: Liberating Structures have been invented by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz. They are absolutely free and available to all. We don’t have any commercial interest and won’t advertise seminars or the like. You can find more information at or

Outline of the Session We will start with a Celebrity Interview, where we take a short time to share powerful stories to introduce ourselves as facilitators and give the participants a vision for how Liberating Structures can help teams with their self-organization.

Then we ask the question “When people fall off the horse (the figurative horse of disciplined self-organization), what are your boldest ideas for getting back on? What is a first step that you could implement right away to achieve this?”. For this we will use 25/10 Crowd Sourcing in combination with 15% Solutions. 25/10 is an exercise which helps to harvest the greatest ideas even in a very large group in a short amount of time. The result will be a list of the top ten ideas from this group complete with the first step towards making this idea real.

Troika Consulting, a powerful exercise for participants to receive coaching advice from others in groups of three, will help participants expand their ideas of what they can personally do right away to strengthen the self-organization within their teams.

The session will end with a debrief using 1-2-4-All. We will reflect on the interaction between the participants in this session and how it differed from the usual interactions in their daily routine.

Celebrity Interview: Sharing powerful stories to introduce facilitators and give everybody a vision for what Liberating Structures can do - 5 minutes

25/10 Crowd Sourcing + 15% Solutions: Harvesting the best ideas from the group - 20 minutes

Troika Consulting: Expanding individual ideas to give everybody a list of personal action items - 15 minutes

1-2-4-All: Debriefing to summarize what happened during the session, what that means and how we will move forward - 10 minutes

Learning Objectives In this highly interactive session you will see and feel how Liberating Structures - a set of group facilitation tools - foster deep self-organization and help build a culture of shared ownership way beyond your Agile implementation. Join us in surfacing new approaches of how to sustain agile peak experiences and leave with a list of ideas you can implement right away to finally break the cycle of over- and under-control.

Target Audience Beginner

Team Team

Christian Weinert

Christian wants to (r)evolutionize our working environment by changing how we interact. To achieve this he demonstrates the power of Liberating Structures to people around the world. He loves his children, Ashtanga Yoga and Surfing.

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