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Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play. Immanuel Kant 

Articles and book chapters authored or co-authored by Keith McCandess include:

Liberating Strategy: Surprise and Serendipity Put To Work.  Keith McCandless and Johannes Schartau (2018).

Creative Destruction: What You Can Stop To Make Space for Innovation, Keith McCandless with commentary by Fisher Qua, Nancy White, Anja Ebers, Anna Forrest, and Catherine Lilly (2018)

Change Methods for Everybody Every Day, Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless (2018).  Chapter in The Change Handbook.  Coming soon.  

LS Applications Above and Below the Water Line, Keith McCandless (2018). Describes three levels of Liberating Structures use: as playful-practical tools; as a principled repertoire; and, as inventive DNA. 

Taking Bigger Risks: Facing Four Fears with Anna Jackson and Keith McCandless (2018). Describes fears associated with letting go of control over content when using Liberating Structures. Also introduces a playful developmental path that unfolds as users put the fears aside.  

Liberating Structures: Engaging Everyone to Build a Good Life Together. Lipmanowicz, H., Singhal, A., McCandless, K., Wang, H. (2015). In Wang, H. (Ed.) (2015). Communication and "the good life" (International Communication Association Theme Book Series, Vol. 2). New York: Peter Lang.

Liberating Structures: Innovating by Including and Unleashing Everyone, in E&Y Performance, 2010, Vol 2. Issue 4. (pp 6-19) Authors Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless.  This article is the best overview of how Liberating Structures are introduced, applied, and spread in an organization.  How can a global multi-national business use simple methods to unleash more innovation, self-organization, and momentum from the grass roots up?

Liberating Structures for Enduring Cultural Change: A Disruptive Innovation  Keith McCandless, The Doctor Weighs In blog (a two part story)  

Falling Off the Horse (while faciliating with Liberating Structures) by Keith McCandless.  Describes a minimalist user-centered approach to facilitation and how the author "falls off the horse and gets back on."  Falling off includes: Talking Too Much; Making Vague, Aimless, or Irrelevant Invitations; Setting the Bar Too Low (accepting whatever happens); Moving Forward Without First Looking Back; Neglecting Imaginative New Uses; Facilitating Timidly; and, Settling for Inadequate Space. 

Saving Lives By Changing Relationships, (2009) With co-authors Dr. Arvind Singhal, Prucia Buscell and Keith McCandless. Published by the Positive Deviance Institute. How can changing patterns in relationships solve a single problem and change the way you solve many other problems? 

Spanning Silos and Spuring Conversations: Positive Deviance for Reducing Infections in Hospitals, in E&Y Performance, Vol 2.3. (pp 78-83). With co-authors Dr. Arvind Singhal, Purcia Buscell and Keith McCandless. 


From the Inside Out: Positive Deviance Subdues MRSA, (2010) submitted for publication.  Authors include: Curt Lindberg, Keith McCandless, Sharon Benjamin, Nancy Iversen, Jeff Cohn, MD, David Hares, MD, Prucia Buscell, Margaret M. Toth, MD.  The most scholarly and complete story of how Positive Deviance & Liberating Structures successfully prevented transmissions of the superbug MRSA in a multi-hospital research project.  

Transforming Discoveries: Partners on the Journey, (2009) Keith McCandless & Linda DeWolf.  This article describes a “landscape” of innovation types as well as wisdom gained among innovators and staff from 2004-2009.  The third and final article chronicling the work of intrepid VHA Foundation grantees.  What are the essential elements for taking a good idea to scale?

Safely Taking Risks: Complexity and Patient Safety, 2008. Exploring what will help safety leaders match effective approaches to simple, complicated and complex challenges, focusing on the most entangled and chronic. How do nascent and latent solutions emerge when people are fully engaged at the front lines?

Mastering the Art of Innovating: A Funny, Wonderful Thing Happened on the Way to My Deliverable! (2006) with Linda DeWolf. How do innovators master

the interplay of make-it-happen and let-it-happen strategies to successfully design and spread their work?

Oil, Water, Apples, Oranges: Bootstrapping Innovation with Social Networks, (2005) with Linda DeWolf. How can creating a vibrant learning network support success in the innovation process?

A Primordial Pedagogy: Caves, Campfires & Watering Holes at the Mayo/Plexus Summit, (2003). How can inspiration from complexity science transform a conference for scholars and leaders?

The Sky Is Falling, Or Is It? A Strategic Planning Self Assessment, (2003) What can help you notice and amplify practices that make your strategic planning more creative and resilient? 

Surprise & Serendipity At Work: Managing the Unknowable Future, (2002) with Jim Smith. Scenario-planning insights with a complexity twist at Group Health Cooperative. How do we  prepare strategically for the unknowable, always surprising future?

Conversation As A Creative Advance Into Novelty; A Collaborative Hunch-In-Progress, (2002). Exploring how dialogue unleashes creative adaptability & resilience via Seattle’s Conversation Cafés. How does generative dialogue organize itself?

Integrated-Autonomy: From Shilly-Shallying to Unleashing System Vitality, (2002). Reflecting on the paradoxical development of distributed systems. What helps us move beyond “bi-polar swings” between decentralized and centralized strategies?  

“Reliability, Resilience and Results in Operations: Designed Autopilot and Collective Mindfulness At Work,” (2002). What behaviors help people collectively and mindfully respond to surprise and massively entangled complexity?

"Working Confidently Without A Script." Reflections on working with Positive Deviance & MRSA prevention. What helps us work confidently without a script?

Authored by others regarding LS-inspired consulting work and research:

Patton, M. Q. (2011). Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Zimmerman, B., et al. (2013) Front-line ownership: generating a cure mindset for patient safety. Healthcare Papers 13(1) 6-23.

Zimmerman, B., The Brazil AIDS Story (excerpt)

Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting from Human Capital to Social Capital, Michael Arena and Mary Uhl-Bien. 

The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures book!   

Buy on Amazon  The color paperback ($49.95 USD), black&white ($19.95 USD) and e-book are now available on the Amazon website. Amazon offers deep discounts and free shipping to some customers. 


If a living system is suffering from ill health, the remedy is to connect it with more of itself.  

– Francisco Varella