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Immersion Workshops in 2019



Did you miss the Global Gathering in Seattle?  Never fear! Check out the video above and the GG Archives.

The archives offer a very rich set of resources: links to the LS Slack channel; materials used in GG sessions; our ever expanding social network map (thanks to Jim Best); and, fabulous photos/videos from Lisanne Lentick (inlcuding the LS song by Kevin Joyce!)

Read insightful refections on the GG experience (and the Seattle Immersion workshop) from Christiaan Verwijs. Fabulous writing.


Check out what a workshop looks like vla Flickr albums. Hamburg Germany workshop (June 1-2, 2017) photos. The LS app and new Design Cards were launched during this session. Austin Texas (held August 2016) LS immersion + design studio jam with the Austin user community and Anna Jackson.  Vancouver, Canada (2016) with Leva Lee and Tracy Kelly focusing on higher education & technology.


Vicariously experience a LS immersion workshop by watching this video. 

The development team at Holisticon is happy to announce the Liberating Structures App is available in the Google Play and Apple App Stores. A deep bow to their creative genius. Happy downloading!

Sign up for What Liberating News!  The first two issues of 2018 focus on education and unflattening learning. Read Unflattening Education # 1 or a past issue Reinventing How We Organize.

 New article by Johannes Schartau & Keith McCandless. Featuring a nascent LS called Strategy Knotworking.

Emergent Success in California is producing Design Cards for US users... with a bow to the Holisticon designers. Kevin Buck of Emergent Success goes all the way back to Plexus Institute days and the orgins of LS in complexity science.   Purchase cards here.

Describes how users apply LS at three levels (a short read)

Liberating Structures in play with the Kaospilots school in Denmark. Staff & students are organizing their own learning via a new organization. Two goals: develop LS self organizing skills while designing an enduring management structure for their class. WOW

Liberating at NASA. Fisher Qua, Charley Haley, and Keith in the midst of micro-structuring with engineers, scientists, and innovators.

Reach out to LS users:  Field stories and challenges are being shared in real-time on Slack, LinkedIn group and Facebook group. There are 24+ public LS user groups across North America, Europe, and India. Many use MeetUp to organize participation.  Check out the new French and German language websites.

Listen In!  

On Liberating Structures with Lorenz Sell of Sutra and Keith. Lorenz asks the deepest questions about collective intelligence, generative relationships, and complexity science. (50 minutes)  Coaching ZonePodcast with Keith McCandless and Dr. Krister Lowe. The focus is on how leaders and teams can develop more productive habits with LS. [45 minutes]   Radio Interview with Meisha Rouser, organizational psychologist, and Keith. The focus is on LS and groups working at the top of their intelligence and imagination. And a third podcast interview with Amiel Handelsman that dips into specific LS microstructures and their use by groups to generate innovative cultures. [60 minutes] 

Lisa Gill is a fabulous writer and top drawer interviewer. Her Leadersmorphosis series dives deeply into self organizing @ work. Put your ear to this interivew she conducts with Henri and Keith.


NEW:  Rhapsody for Strings, 9 LS maestros share and rhapsodize about their favorite LS Strings.

Tracy Kelly and colleagues are rigorously experimenting with LS online. Read about hosting a Mad Tea Party here.





Liberating with the Yukon Government. How do we organize to more productively meet our user-citizen’s needs? Shannon Patterson and I introduced LS across YG departments.
When users get serious about liberating with LS and focus on expanding their repertoire, maestros have described a progression through stages. Each level transcends and includes the previous stage. This includes fears to set aside or triumph over. How is your journey?

New article by Anna Jackson and Keith McCandless. Taking Bigger Risks: Facing Four Fears (2018)


LS News:  2015 A Page-Turning Thriller

The year 2015 whirled by like a mysterious thriller that keeps you up all night. LS cannot be set down!  In the collage below, I share a slice of the joy, wonder and suspense that bubbles up in the LS universe.  It is a privilege to hear how people are liberating their lives and workplaces.  Read more.

LS Means Serious Business!

Fisher Qua and Keith McCandless introduced LS @ the U of Michigan Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor and GM in Detroit. As always, LS plays well with existing change efforts. The simplicity and adaptability of microstructures makes adoption a snap. Seattle User Group theme and design illustrated by Fisher Qua. Participants rotated through four stations, Brewing Hope while facing entangled challenges. Participants noted insight with a Spiral Journal (below)

Above: An inventive group working with the LS in development backlog at Lake Wenatchee.  Greg Myers, Molly Angel, Jeff Carter, Shannon Patterson, Fisher Qua, Charley Haley, Nancy White, Keith McCandless, Alex Dunne, Larry White (from left to right).


The LS Selection Matchmaker in use during a workshop. The Matchmaker is a fabulous tool to help plan your next meeting or project. It can be used with LS Design Cards to formulate strings (sequences of Liberating Structures designed to achieve productive endpoints). The Matchmaker can cut your planning time dramatically. PDF here.

In October, the Seattle LS User Group field tested a nascent LS called MindMeld. This graphic makes visual the What? So What? and Not What? of Snapback to over- and under-controling behaviors. MindMeld shows great promise for digging deep into a complex topic AND then moving into action.

2015 featured immersion workshops at top universities in the US: U of Washington (Seattle), Texas (El Paso), Wisconsin (Madison), Michigan (Ann Arbor), and California (Berkeley & San Luis Obispo).

Liberating Structures @ the White House

University of Texas at El Paso professor of Communication, Dr. Arvind Singhal, designed an interactive, inclusive, two-day working meeting on the topic, Partners in Health: Aligning Clinical Systems, Faith and Community Assets. April 15-16, at the White House.  Story here.

Professor Arvind Signhal (standing in the background) facilitating a User Experience Fishbowl at the White House in DC.



On 25 and 26 May, 2015 CGIAR centres and other organizations working in agriculture and rural development convened a share fair in ILRI Addis campus. The event is driven by the desire to make agricultural research and innovation more impactful; by recognizing and paying attention to the power of good processes that attend to people, partnerships and participation. Fisher Qua shared a string of Liberating Structures.

LS and Lean community building at the Central Coast Lean / Cal Poly immersion workshop. Professor and CCL organizer Eric Olsen finds that LS and Lean play well together. Pictured above: higher ed, business, students, and community members learning together in San Luis Obispo (April 16-17).

User Experience Fishbowl with 350 people at Water Week in DC! Plus TRIZ, 25/10 Crowd-sourcing, What 3X, and more with this global group working to make a water-secure world for all!

Magnificent 7 nursing leaders (RWJF Fellows) and Keith in DC @ the Center for Total Health (Kaiser Permanente). Sixty health and IT leaders gathered to explore “Strength Beyond Our Walls.” DADs, User Experience Fishbowl, and TRIZ were employed to reveal social and technical innovations for the most vulnerable in our society.

Liberating Structures, Complexity and Relational Coordination - A Webinar

 Held Wednesday, March 11, 2015   Full recording via AdobeConnect here

Conventional wisdom suggests that incremental change and transformational change are opposites.  Small relational changes generate marginal results and big formal changes are needed to transform an organization. Makes perfect sense.  Too perfect. 

Is it possible that the opposite is also accurate: incremental approaches are a path to quantum transformation? 

By liberating many small adaptive and relational changes, is it possible to achieve critical mass?  By doing so are we shifting attractor patterns? Are we changing the microdynamics and habits that underpin culture? 

Keith McCandless of Liberating Structures, Jeff Cohn of the Plexus Institute and Jody Hoffer Gittell of the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative welcome you to explore the intersection between Liberating Structures, Complexity and Relational Coordination.   Recording via AdobeConnect here.

Bay Area LS CoP launch meeting underway (January 29, 2015). Hosted by Saybrook University. 30 participants from business, education, NGOs, healthcare, and government engaged in a lively and productive cycle of P2P.

New LS User Groups are launching in the US, the UK, Paris, and Germany. Check out all the locations.  Not near you, start your own.


Austin, TX , November 6-7.  90+ participants from across Texas and the US immersed themselves in the LS repertoire.  16 microstructures were practiced and 10 lucky participants received help "stringing" design sessions--including the thinkEAST arts-based neighborhood development group. Serious play included workshop leaders Anna Jackson (Alpinista Consulting), Keith McCandless, Arvind Singhal, and Henri Lipmanowicz.



Sweet as a plate of LS icon cookies. Many thanks to the artist baker Cindy Bricker of the WA Administrative Office of the Courts and Tim Jaasko-Fisher.



Teens in 4-H and the LA Unified School District are learning LS to create healthier communities. Video here.

Clinton School for Public Service--An Entourage Approach To LS Immersion (November 2014)

We spent four fabulous days in Little Rock. Invited by Marie Lindquist (director of field service education), a group of LS practitioners offered four public workshops and two design sessions.  A whirlwind from start to finish. A deep bow to Marie.

Twenty two microstructures were put into practice.  

Henri and Keith gave a "formal presentation" for which Henri wore a tie! [gasp] Arvind Signhal was the Celebrity Interviewer and Talk Show Host.  

More photos here from the Public Program at the Clinton School.  



NCCI (Network for Change & Continuous Innovation) leaders from around the world experiencing 1-2-4-All. University of Washington LS users are sharing diverse applications with conflict management, strategic planning, team building, employee orientation, and developing competencies. 90 minutes of electric engagement focused on transforming change in higher education.

Read about this Seattle BeyondAgile gathering, Safely Taking More Risks with Liberating Structures.  Software developers are keen for weaving LS into Lean, Agile, and other change methods.  Keith McCandless was chief structured improvisationalist for the event.  

System Problems Shout, Distributed Solutions Whisper

It is easy for us to see how our big systems and institutions are failing people. We WAIL, we WINGE, and we SHOUT.  

It is much more difficult to see how tiny distributed interactions contribute to the failures or to the generation of solutions. The changes may seem inconspicuous, unpretentious, or fleeting. However, if you listen closely, you can hear the whispers and notice how they interlink and build on each other to spark momentum.  Read more + access to all our News and Updates.


Washington DC wksp participants created four LS design strings: 1. routine meetings for a primary care group just forming; 2. A community vitality effort in Santa Cruz, CA; 3. launching a global museum initiative to save cultural heritage (starting in Haiti); 4. Spreading and operationalizing a proven innovation across multiple countries


Contact Keith or Fisher if you want to help organize a workshop.  

Need help liberating virtual meetings? Design checklist here.  Most LS can be adapted for use with virtual conferencing technology platforms. 

The color paperback book, The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash A Culture of Innovation, now available.  A lower cost black-and-white version is available now ($19.95).



Seattle Workshops Completed (January 29-30, 2014)

DAY 1 Prepare To Be Surprised 

 Presentation Materials here PDF

DAY 2 Kicking It Up A Notch

Presentation materials here PDF

75 people from organizations of all stripes joined in the action.  We were able to:

  • Give and receive LS-enhanced help with challenges
  • Share multiple examples of exciting LS strings and design storyboards
  • Learn how LS are being applied with virtual teams using web conferencing (WebEx and AdobeConnect)
  • Play, practice and pounce on new Liberating Structures being invented by users
  • Cultivate simple conditions that help spread and scale LS—up levels and out across settings; and,
  • Gain insights from the new book: The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures.

Liberating Structures introduce tiny shifts in the way we meet, plan, decide and relate to one another and put in the hands of everyone the facilitative power once reserved for experts only.


User's Group Start-Up

Seattle LS users now have regular meet-ups.  Maybe you want to start a group in your location. Here are a few details on how we started.

Mash up in progress @ the November meetingOnce a month, we get together in downtown Seattle at the LIFFFT Studio. Each 90 minute session includes three activities: networking, getting & giving help, and learning something new together. 

We rotate leadership and design responsibilities among the participants. Here is our design from August, 2013.  

  • NETWORKING: Connecting with people working in diverse domains and welcoming LS beginners into the mix via Impromptu Networking + Social Network Webbing 
  • GETTING & GIVING HELP: Using Heard~Seen~Respected to respond empathetically to challenges without over-helping
  • LEARNING TOGETHER: Playing with Panarchy in order to spread new ideas across many levels simultaneously


P2P for the Seattle User’s Group

Above are visual notes from our first gathering.  We did a rapid cycle Purpose-To-Practice together. The seriously fun purpose that emerged was :

We exist to invent and enliven a new form of organizing by pondering, practicing, playing, and pouncing together

Drawing Together meets Impromptu Networking: images created to invite deeper connections among user group members (March meeting)

The group is breathing air into four trial balloons (below).  We will keep you updated on what floats or sinks.

  • A monthly face-to-face evening together in Seattle featuring use of LS to advance learning;
  • Occasional virtual confabs that include international users and special projects;
  • An annual Chautauqua/Open Space shindig;
  • And, a LS twist on the Community Consulting model to help new users get direct experience with complex challenges (low or no cost services are provided to organizations via an experienced LS consultant and a team of less-experienced people that want to learn).  



    Weaving Together Lean and LSLean “campers” trying out 1-2-4-All

    At Kaizen Camp Seattle, Keith led participants in mini-LS sessions on getting started with LS.  Many Lean and Design Thinking Practitioners find that Liberating Structures can be easily infused with or interpolated between other change methods.


    Inventing A New LS: Caravan!

    A mash-up with a liberating twistShawn Henning, Fisher Qua, and Keith McCandless cooked up a new LS at Kaizen Camp. Shawn suggested a mash-up, Fisher dubbed it "Caravan," and Keith faciliated the premiere.  The 18 participants found it to be a very successful and speedy way to get and give help.  Three consulting groups of 5 rotated between three people asking for a consultation. 

    Microstructures are easy to combine and recombine into something new and powerful.  Little changes, big differences!


    Immersion Workshop Series in Seattle: The Cycle Complete

    Workshop # 4 held April 3-4, Transforming Movements, is now complete. Presentation materials here. Redux wksp materials here. Many thanks to all the participants locally and internationally.  This last workshop was very exciting.  We focused on strings of Liberating Structures for knotty challenges.  80 participants prototyped design cards with very creative results!

    If you missed them, below are presenation materials from workshop # 3 Strategy + Design: 

    Redux Workshop January 16 [PDF]       Strategy + Design January 17 [PDF]

     The Seattle wksp cycle: everyday solutions, big projects, strategy + design & transforming movements in four sessions over 10 months

    During an Open Space session, a group generated ideas for "how to sell LS" with your people back home.  See below.  A favorite, "Do it! Use LS to sell LS."


    Leading by Including & Unleashing Everyone--Transforming Movements

    Transformations are more akin to a social movement than a project-to-be-managed. Key themes and practices in the workhsop will include:

    1. Attract rather than compel new behavior: self-discovery among local groups and partners fuels behavior change (telling people what to does not work well)
    2. Look for what is already working but unseen to close the gap
    3. Pose "wicked" questions which groups will explore, making discoveries together over time
    4. Recognize that BIG challenges have widely distributed solutions, the origins of which cannot be known in advance
    5. Include more stakeholders and more diverse voices
    6. Make it very easy to copy new behaviors and innovations
    7. Fail forward: nearly everything the leaders do—including mistakes and struggles—should be transparent and explicit
    8. Employ easy-to-use methods to include and unleash everyone from people in the field to leaders

    • What if everyone in your group, movement, or organization could move rapidly from novice-to-experienced innovators?
    • What if novices could make contributions much bigger and better than predicted by experts or formal leaders?
    • And what if including everyone could make it simple to implement, spread and sustain a transformation?
    Liberating Structures draw out social inventiveness and self-organization. They have been introduced successfully, used widely, and spread quickly in many settings, languages, and countries. Inspired by complexity science, they require minimal structuring while liberating maximum creative adaptability. Small micro-structural constraints enable more freedom AND more responsibility. 

    In this session you will be introduced to how Liberating Structures work and immediately apply them to a transformation challenge at hand. The workshop is the fourth of a series held in Seattle. Keith McCandless is the primary presenter often joined by Henri Lipmanowicz (LS co-developer) and special guests.

    In this roll-up-your-sleeves immersion workshop, you will learn and immediately practice 8-10 Liberating Structures. A practical understanding of most individual LS microstructures can be developed in less than one hour each. This is enough to go out and try them in operational settings with little risk. LS users act their way into new thinking rather than thinking their way into new acting.

    Examples of use in business, NGOs, healthcare, philanthropy, and schools will be shared.  The workshop is designed for change leaders of all stripes from the front line to the C-suite. Participation in pairs or small teams helps dramatically with getting started post-workshop. Special Guests have been invited to share their "on the ground" LS experience with teams, units, organizational transformations, and community movements.

    Workshop #1 featured microstructures that liberate everyday meetings and routine interactions.  Workshop # 2 introduced microstructures that liberate big projects and initiatives involving many people in widely distributed locations (e.g., action research, innovation prototyping, and launches of new products/services).  Workshop # 3 featured LS that make it possible to meaningfully include everyone in shaping strategy together: Ecocycle, Panarchy, Critical Uncertainties, Min Specs and Purpose to Practice were featured. Many of the microstructures are easily combined and mashed-up in field work.

    New video just released!  

    May 29, 2012

    A deep bow to Ken Yu and Lesley Jacobs, the behind the scenes designers of this website. Someday they will have their own websites.  Until then, I will be happy to make an introduction.


    Featured in The Doctor Weighs In blog.  A two-part series. Featuring Dr. Michael Gardam and LS as a disruptive innovation.

    Toronto LS Workshop

    with Keith McCandless and Liz Rykert (MetaStrategies)

    Held in 2012  See announcements for current workshops above.  






    Workshop: Leading and Innovating with Liberating Structures 

    with Keith McCandless and Lisa Kimball (Plexus)

    Washington DC


    Workshop: Introduction to Liberating Structures for UTEP faculty and students 

     with Henri Lipmanowicz and Prof. Arvind Singhal

    2012 University of Texas at El Paso

    Workshop: Liberating Structues for Social Change  with Henri Lipmanowicz, Prof. Arvind Singhal and Prof. Lucia Dura

     El Paso, TX

    Lecture/Workshop: Liberating Structures in practice for Clinton School of Public Service students  with Henri Lipmanowicz and Prof. Arvind Singhal

    Little Rock, AK