On December 10th and 11th, I attended the Liberating Structures Immersion workshop in Amsterdam. Here I’d like to share some appreciative reflections and some personal follow-up ideas.
I appreciated the people. Be it in a conversation about our role as facilitators, a reflection on my personal fears in my role as a Scrum Master or just by listening to music together (in a somewhat awkward position): Without exception, I experienced respectful and meaningful interactions with my fellow attendees. Part of this can be attributed to the power of Liberating Structures, but it is always the people that make it work. Kudos to both.
I appreciated the timeboxes. As a facilitator, I’m quite firm on my timeboxes. It was good to be on the receiving end for a change. More than once, the expiring of a timebox surprised me and my fellow attendees. More than once I realized that the important stuff was shared already. Time to move on. The times where I felt the conversation was cut short, I was happy to move on; favoring the experience of another Liberating Structure over further exploration of the subject at hand.
I appreciated the chance to get some personal insights. Although my main purpose of attending this workshop was to experience Liberating Structures as a participant to be better at facilitating them for others, I did have several interesting personal insights. That’s part of the immersion experience I guess. Allow me to share two insights here.
We make space so that people can passionately share - and sometimes the person sharing might be me. The last couple of years I have been focusing on listening and creating space for others to step into. I still believe there is much for me to improve here. In a Conversation Cafe on facilitation, I felt I got carried away and shared quite a lot of personal insights and experiences. I felt a bit dirty to be sending so much. During a coffee break after the Conversation Cafe, one of my group members told me he noticed I was really passionate about this subject and that he appreciated what I shared and the passion with which I did it.
Me, engaged. Photo by Lisanne Lentink, used with permission
Be a gentle guiding giant; not a 1-trick bird, a rigid giant, an inflicting biter or a molesting witch. Don’t you just love your Tiny Demons? Come on, give ‘em a hug, send them some love! They want to tell you something. They want to help and they’re quite cute once you get to know them. They helped me uncover some hidden uncertainties and fears. Tiny Demons can transform negative thoughts into a positive image of what you can be - or already are.
I appreciated how I was able to manage my energy level with little effort. After both days, I arrived home full of energy. I slept really well after the workshops on both days.
I appreciated the opportunity to fail and to succeed. We had fun creating a sketch together using the Improv Prototyping structure. It helped that performing the sketch in front of the whole group (scary!) was optional. That allowed me to do my best, regardless of the outcome, without any anxiety. I didn’t feel bad at all that we as a group decided not to perform our sketch. Two groups did share their sketch, which was great fun.
In the debrief, a member from another group shared her appreciation for the performed sketches. Then she shared that she felt that her group had not been able to create a sketch that was nearly as good. One of the facilitators (I believe it was Fisher) appreciated this remark. He clarified that some groups might have a great sketch, and others don’t. Beforehand it is hard to predict which two groups would create those two great sketches. As a group as a whole we had two great sketches.
My follow-up ideas
This is a short list of follow up ideas I had after the workshop.
- Write a blog post with my reflections and ideas. You’re reading it now :) . It is also reposted on Medium.
- Write a blog post on my tiny demons.
- Create an app that uses image recognition to create a session plan from a string of laid out Liberating Structures cards. Not only does this app give you a neat session plan, it also inspires by providing an invitation suggestion for each structure.
- Host a liberating structure Meetup with my wife. Subject: using Liberating Structures in the context of self-support groups for people on the autistic spectrum.
- Use liberating structures to completely revamp the morning session of a SAFe PI planning event. And whilst at it - why not run the entire event using Liberating Structures. You can find my ideas on a Liberating PI Planning Structure Trello board.
- Use Liberating Structures to support some XSCALE practices. That sounds like a powerful combination.
- Create a list of links of posts on the Immersion Workshop.
- Improve and experiment with writing powerful invitations.
- Share Martin’s post on LinkedIn.
Your follow-up ideas
You are invited to …
- join an immerion workshop yourself,
- join our Meetup,
- watch this Youtube video of the workshop in March or this video with material from the workshop in December,
- join me in creating a liberating PI planning event.
But above all, I invite you to experiment with Liberating Structures yourself. You’ll be amazed about what they unleash in the people you work and live with.