Helping Others Get Started
Regardless of an organization’s mission and geography, Liberating Structures are usually a striking departure from its habits, traditions, and culture. For new users, people not familiar with Liberating Structures and the outcomes they produce, this break with convention can be a source of anxiety or fear.
When working with new users, you need to be mindful of their apprehensions.
For example, you may be warned that people will become confused or simply refuse to participate. You may be told that “it” will not work here, not in “this” culture or with “these” people.
Here are five sets of resources to help you help others break with tradition.
Clearly, as one should expect, breaking with tradition evokes both excitement and fear. That is what we have found in multiple countries and in all types of organizations. Some people couldn’t wait to start using Liberating Structures, while others worried about acceptance and how their boss, colleagues, students, or clients might judge them if they moved away from conventional methods.
You may encounter the following:
- Concerns that the outcome isn’t predictable
- Resistance to the risk of having to step beyond one’s area of expertise because Liberating Structures will cut across boundaries
- Fear that more diversity of perspectives than what is welcome will be revealed
- Fear of losing control or of ending with the “wrong outcome”
- Unspecified fear of the unknown and/or uncertainty
Fortunately, such fears dissipate quickly since Liberating Structures invariably generate much more satisfying and energizing interactions than participants experience with familiar conventional structures.
With Liberating Structures, outcomes are not predictable in detail, but high levels of engagement always materialize regardless of context or culture.
So while it is normal for new users to be anxious, you can relax knowing that Liberating Structures will deliver better-than-expected results. Those experiencing Liberating Structures for the first time will soon see for themselves that the possible outcomes easily allay any lingering anxieties. As you gradually push the envelope by including more people, more functions, and more levels, and by embracing more diversity, more surprising and exciting results will emerge.
If you truly want to understand something, try to change it. Kurt Lewin
One more note. LS can be chosen and implemented regardless of personal style, emotional intelligence, or charisma. In contrast to the typical story about leadership requiring a set of personal qualities that people are born with or need to develop through extensive training, you can use microstructures successfully if you are introverted and don't like to make eye contact.