With Structure Comes Freedom

I have recently been working with a couple of different groups that believe strongly in horizontal leadership – they believe that no one should have power over another in a group setting. Traditional leadership is very top down, can be patronizing and rarely encourages the active participation of all the team members. I also had the opportunity to interview Sue Schneider, a former HR Director for Nike Global Apparel as part of my work to get an Executive Master’s in Public Administration. The interview was about Human Resources Management, in general. But in that interview, she recommended that I look into Liberating Structures. Liberating Structures is both a book and a website promoted by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz. The duo shares how formal, intentional structured conversation can lead to breakthrough opportunities for problem solving, innovation, and creative thinking. I highly recommend the website and book to anyone working with teams.

I’m so happy that Sue asked me to look into the work of McCandless and Lipmanowicz. Essentially, I had been asking for advice on how best to engage millennials at my office. I’ve tried a number of tactics and she stated clearly: “involve them! Millennials want to be engaged, they want to be asked to step up. Do that, and you can unlock a lot of opportunities”. Too many supervisors see recent generations as foreign, as focused on their phones. But they fail to really look at the persons. Simply ask folks what they want, and you’ll get a good answer. Offer them real, intentional opportunities to step in and get involved, and you get results.

The Liberating Structures book and website both have suggestions for activities. Our staff team at Bark tried out the activity the 9 Why’s and it helped us explore the real essence behind our work in a fun, structured way. The activity “1-2-4-All” is an easy way to ask any question to a larger group to process using smaller subgroups that keep on getting bigger until you’ve reached a consensus. We even worked on an activity that taught participants how to effectively ask for What you Want! Wow.

Menu of Liberating Structures

Activities even include drawing and roleplaying.

Give the Liberating Structures a try or ask our team at S & G Endeavors to join your team for a fun half-day or full-day retreat to build teamwork, collaboration and up staff engagement.

Trainer, consultant, strategic planner and executive coach for S & G Endeavors.

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