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Immersion Workshops

Immersion Workshops are designed to introduce participants to a large number of Liberating Structures very rapidly – it’s a fast cycle “see one, do one, teach one, do another one” method of learning. The idea is to create awareness of the range of possibilities that Liberating Structures open up. Also, covering a wide variety of structures underscores the idea that there is no single way to address many complex challenges.

Learning to use Liberating Structures is like learning a new language. First you learn individual words. Then you put them together into a simple sentence and soon you are speaking series of sentences in the new language.

Another message that Immersion Workshop participants get loud and clear: you learn by doing; once you’ve seen a Liberating Structure in action and practiced doing it in the workshop, you can use it in any setting.  

Action unfolding in the first LS workshop (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

LS are not best practices or complicated processes imposed on a whole organization.

They do not rely on expensive and lengthy efforts to train people in an attempt to change their behaviors. The methods are instead a set of simple microstructures from which individuals and groups can choose what suits their likes and dislikes then mix-and-match them flexibly to address their challenges. They are simpler than a process and much more productive than an exercise. Read about a hosptial system workshop.  Read an article from UVA (University of Virginia) promoting an immersion in the UVA Today.

Check out this lively video to vicariously experience a LS immersion workshop.  Hats off to Lisanne and the Amsterdam design crew.  Read about the experience of design group organizers pulling together a workshop here.  

An immersion workshop underway in Seattle: everyone is invited to shape next steps with 1-2-4-AllAn Immersion Workshop treats each Liberating Structure separately. A design team from the organization helps to identify current issues and problems that matter to participants and designs workshop experiences to address those real-life challenges. By covering so many so fast, the workshop demonstrates that the Liberating Structures playbook has something for everybody and nearly everything.

Every participant learns that there are several Liberating Structures from which to choose to deal with most situations. In our experience, different people, for whatever reason, are attracted to different Liberating Structures. Workshops feature the LS Selection Matchmaker to help link your challenges and goals to specific LS microstructures. Also, many workshops feature a journal to draw out more imagination. Anja Ebers' graphic Learning Journal is exquisite. 

An immersion workshop virtually guarantees participants will experience at least one structure that they like and that will be appropriate for their challenges.







Contact Keith McCandless or Henri Lipmanowicz

Visualization of s 2-day immersion workshop in Amsterdam. 

Shorter Immersion WorkshopsCo-designers of a one-day workshop for international communications scholars: Henri Lipmanowicz, Helen Hua Wang, Arvind Singhal, and Keith McCandless

Since it is often not possible to organize a two or three-day workshop, shorter workshops are effective alternatives. The following objectives guide their design:

  • Illustrate how Liberating Structures are useful for a wide range of challenges
  • Ensure that every person is likely to find one or more microstructures he or she wants to start using immediately
  • Help participants gain confidence together via practice on diverse issues
  • Show how Liberating Structures enable new ideas and answers to repeatedly emerge bottom up
  • Illustrate how Liberating Structures methods are modular and can be mashed up easily
  • Demonstrate how easy it is to generate results quickly with Liberating Structures
  • Link complexity-science inspired principles to help guide everyday practice
  • Duplicate the speed of frontline working conditions

As a rough guideline, three-hour workshops can include four to six Liberating Structures and whole-day workshops twice that many. More details about sponsorship and logistics (PDF).  Purpose to Practice PDF design guide (pictured below).


Keith’s "Purpose to Practice" design guide for immersion workshops of all stripes.

Inside an organization, experienced users can also arrange series of mini-workshops that cover only one Liberating Structure at a time and where participants can also share their experiences (e.g. Liberation Over Lunch).

Tell me and I’ll forget.  Show me and I may not remember.  Involve me and I’ll understand.  Native American Proverb

Agendas, presentation materials, and notes on steps and outcomes from some of our public workshops are available on our News and Events page.  A four-part Seattle workshop series was particularly effective.  Each 1.5 day session had a progressive theme for applying LS: everyday solutions, big projects; strategy & design; and, transforming movements.  

Scenes from a workshop series offered in Seattle in 2012 and 2013


Workshops can be themed around a single focus or address a mix of challenges

Below are photos from immersion workshops.

Workshop-in-action photos on Flickr (Denmark) Workshop photos Vancouver, CA


LS is a practice, a way of working rather than a singular process or method. And, LS are so tiny they play well with other change approaches. The principles and core structuring that underlie them become embodied as fluency increases.  Anna Jackon

Participant comments from immersion workshops:

Just a huge round of applause and thanks for this workshop. It was the right balance of structure and freedom. I had high hopes/expectations, and they were exceeded.

Liberating in so many ways! I feel like the impossible is possible with a new, smart and fresh way of digging deep quickly. Delightful and profound at the same time. Thank you. 

One of my top all time favorite workshops! 

Thanks for the book and slides and the heavy dose of permission to abandon outdated practices and encouragement to find joy again. Joy makes progress possible.

Do you need a need a new tool box?  Then LS!!

I appreciate that LS could help anyone in this organization start to “liberate structures” and find ways to create change. 

Concrete ideas that you can implement with your team or cross-functional group right now!

Uncomfortable in a good way; stretches your thinking of what’s possible. 

Made candid discussions possible.  Helps us stop the “Goat Rodeo!”

My mind is blown!  I will use at least one LS in each of my meetings from now on. 

If you are an experienced facilitator, hang in there for the 2nd day. The program builds and introduces fun new exciting practices.

The tools are simple and very useful.  Now I need to put these into practice.

Surprising, the workshop is great. We went into much more depth. Tight structure helped us to keep the focus.

This was the first time I saw our company get actual work done.


Insights offered by very experienced LS users: 

  • LS are relatively simple ways to bring awareness, structure, specificity and playfulness to our interactions
  • LS are micro-structures that clarify the essential elements of how we interact
  • LS are disciplined ways of respecting each person's inventiveness and creativity
  • LS let us benefit from the full complexity of human interaction instead of flattening, reducing, or running away from it.