Search the website:

About Keith McCandlessKeith McCandless

Co-Founder, Social Invention Group

Co-Developer, Liberating Structures


I help people innovate and take on complex challenges by working with groups to unleash creativity, discover opportunities, and build on momentum.

I am a founding partner of the Social Invention Group since 2000. My eclectic skills are grounded in organization development, complexity science, business strategy, and graphic facilitation—all with an improvisational twist.

Henri Lipmanowicz, Keith McCandless, and Professor Arvind Singhal in the Clinton Library (2014)

It was kismet that I met Henri Lipmanowicz while serving on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Plexus Institute. We shared a hunch that complexity science had practical applications and could be accessible to everyone.  My keen interest in transformational learning and planning methods clicked with Henri’s business acumen as we fielded early prototypes. Over twelve years, our hunch transmogrified into a powerful repertoire for people making change.  Gleefully, we cut across academic disciplines, tapped spiritual practices, roamed the planet, and deepened scientific insights along the way.  

Liberating @ NASA. Researching how to shift patterns across scales with engineers, scientists, and innovators.What delights me most is the range of challenges, big and small, where this work can have a positive influence. Professional, functional, and interpersonal boundaries seem to dissolve when using Liberating Structures. I love creating the conditions for social inventiveness to flourish and to help people to take on their most entangled challenges with newfound confidence.  


Keith's bio sketch: From 1992-2000, Keith led executive learning initiatives for the Health Forum (HF) in San Francisco, where he was responsible for working with field-based learning collaboratives focused on market strategy, systems thinking, quality management, creativity, rapid prototyping, and transformational leadership. He managed education and research efforts.

Prior to the Health Forum, Keith founded and served as the executive director of the Foundation for Health Care Quality in Seattle. The foundation brought together business, academic, & health leaders in a unique partnership to improve quality and value in healthcare.

Starting in 2002, Keith and Henri Lipmanowicz have worked as partners to develop Liberating Structures. 

Pictured left:  Keith and Henri improvising in the midst of the first Liberating Structures immersion workshop in Brazil.

Born in Cincinnati Ohio, he holds a Masters in Management of Human Services from Brandeis University in Boston and a BA from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Keith lives in Seattle with his wife Annie and Deacon the whippet with talent to amuse.

Contact Keith McCandless 

Liberating Structures: Simple, Subtle, Powerful from Liberating Structures on Vimeo.


The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures book!   

Preview and 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. 


Always fishing and searching, sometimes catching. I am a lucky guy and this is one beautiful fish.

On short notice, I can be available for a 30-minute call. I have experience helping people get started and spread Liberating Structures in many settings and circumstances.  

Often, we can make fast progress on the challenge at hand AND forever change the way you solve problems and develop innovations.  

Contact me via email

We can talk about any of the following possibilities to support your use of LS:

Having serious fun in the classroom with Kaospilots in Denmark. Design + Business + LS is exhilarating. •  Getting-started and first steps

•  Connecting you with other LS users

•  Composing a design storyboard for a big event

•  Presentations

•  Consulting projects

•  Action research or design projects

•  Team or individual coaching

•  How LS fits with other change initiatives

•  LS Workshops or strategy retreats

•  LS Immersion Workshops





 LS EuroTour listening station in Brussels

On occasion I get invited to draw out “literally" what is unfolding. Above is a drawing I created during the launch of the Institute for Mental Health and Wellness. The group convened very near the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, California.

Liberating with the Yukon Government. How do we organize to more productively meet our user-citizen’s needs?

LS Means Serious Business!

Introducing LS @ the U of Michigan Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor and GM in Detroit. As always, LS play well with existing change efforts. The simplicity and adaptability of microstructures makes adoption a snap.

The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures

Simpler than a process and more productive than an exercise, Liberating Structures employ tiny microstructural changes in the way we meet, plan, research, decide and learn together. They quickly foster lively participation in groups of any size, making it possible to truly include and unleash everyone in shaping the future. Liberating Structures are a disruptive innovation that can replace more controlling or constraining approaches. They put the innovative power once reserved for experts only in hands of everyone. 

This liberating approach is both practical and feasible because the methods are quite simple and easy to learn. No lengthy training courses or special talents are required. Mastery is simply a matter of practice. LS routinely unleash a vast reserve of contributions and latent innovations waiting to be discovered.


The answer to the question, “What is a Liberating Structure?” is quite interesting because LS is so many things at the same time.  The answer and significance is based on you and your experience. Delightfully, LS can help you see a big challenge through the eyes of people with different experience. You can address challenges from multiple points of view simultaneously and mutually. This may be the only way to grasp the full nature of entangled challenges and to make progress together.

 To be serious is to press for a conclusion. To be playful is to invite open possibility. Let’s be more seriously playful!