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Field Stories Overview

There are three ways to describe how Liberating Structures function and make a difference in the field. These include LS as: 

  • An Innovation Tool Chest 
  • Habits Which Reveal New Strategy
  • Catalysts For A Movement

Each lens draws out different attributes of the Liberating Structures palette. For each lens, several stories illuminate how positive change has unfolded in the field. 

1.     Innovation Tool Chest: LS are seriously playful methods that help novices become expert contributors in any innovation effort. From the grass roots up and the fringe in, everyone can be included and unleashed. The wise crowd can outperform experts on very complex challenges. LS spark innovation and better-than-expected results by tapping new voices and local know-how. Stories from leaders who are innovating with LS include:

2.     Habits that Reveal New Strategy: LS microstructures make it easy to shift everyday habits and interaction patterns in a way that the vast majority is included in shaping direction. Most change programs focus on developing strategies and values with the assumption that habits will follow. In our experience, knowing is not necessarily doing. LS focus on habits with the assumption that values and strategies will follow. The path forward is mutually shaped as planners and doers are reconnected. People act their way into new thinking. Leaders introducing new habits on-the-way-to-novel-strategies include:

3.     Catalysts For a Movement: In contrast to managing a project, LS catalyze a broad movement. Leaders responsibly let go of over-control in a way that invites more local action and momentum. Leadership is more distributed: waiting for someone else or gaming the system is replaced by more freedom, self-organization, and mutual accountability. Guided by must-do and must-not-do principles (aka Min Specs), a movement spreads without central control. Leaders who responsibly let go and got better than expected results include: 

 LS in Action.  Photos by David Gasser and Keith McCandless

When LS become part of everyday use, elements of each lens come into play. Robust efforts feel more like a movement than a project. Innovations and new strategy emerge from the grass roots up as new voices are included and unleashed. With the imagination and resources at hand, much more is possible.

The 12 field stories are written by Keith McCandless. Innovating by Including and Unleashing Everyone is written by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz.