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The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash A Culture of Innovation (Black and White Version) Paperback – October 28, 2014
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About the Author
Henri Lipmanowicz is the former president of Merck’s Intercontinental Region and Japan. He cofounded the Plexus Institute and served as its Chairman till 2010. He was born in Carcassonne, France, holds MS degrees from Toulouse and Columbia University and has lived in seven different countries. He currently lives in the United States with his wife, where they enjoy the company of their two daughters and seven grandchildren. Keith McCandless was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. After earning an MA in management of human services in Boston, he went on to found and serve as executive director of the Foundation for Health Care Quality. McCandless also worked for the Health Forum in San Francisco, where he led executive learning and innovation initiatives, and cofounded the Social Invention Group. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife and family.
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What are Liberating Structures? At the first level, they're a set of 33 practical, easy-to-use methods for group work. And last month, the whole body of work came out as a book, The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures. Authors Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless spent years gathering, testing, codifying and describing these processes in real-world settings.
The heart of the book is the "Field Guide" to the 33 Liberating Structures. Each one takes the group down a different path. For example, the Nine Whys is a process to help "make the purpose of your work together clear." This process that asks why, why, why. In 20 minutes it helps both the individual and the entire group dig deeper to get greater clarity on what's important. What's the underlying reason we're doing what we're doing?
The goal of another Liberating Structure, Wicked Questions, is to "articulate the paradoxical challenges that a group must confront succeed."
Lipmanowicz and McCandless have also identified "Sets of Strings." These are combinations of the 33 structures that, when used together move a group toward a goal, such as drawing out prototypes or finding everyday solutions. But this whole Liberating Structure is open source, and we're encouraged to find our own strings, as well.
Liberating Structures goes far beyond how a planning process is facilitated. Organizations that adopt them, can find themselves radically changes. The book tells stories of Liberating Structures helping in different settings: the classroom, a child-welfare system, a business turnaround, and so on. Because of their easily seen impact, these approaches to group work will undoubtedly find quick acceptance from many tribes.
And they may create a revolution. The authors quote one participant's reaction: "Warning--you may never be able to tolerate another endless conference/meeting again and might feel that everyone is in `The Matrix' except you!"
My advice: Buy a copy, and put your name on it; otherwise, someone will nick it.
Already have two copies and this book is on the shortlist of regular recommendations to my peers in other nonprofits.
Any barrier to good group dynamic is addressed with at least one, and in some cases, many, of these simple ways to unleash team members own ideas.
The book is written in clear language, no "jargony" words. This makes learning these techniques approachable. The examples and stories are a great way to bring these facilitation tools to life, as well.
Anyone who works with a team can benefit from this book!
I have dog eared, highlighted and underlined most of the pages of this book. While many of the methodologies are not new, I love how this book helps give the movement of people using such microstructures to open dialogue a clearer identity and common language.
Liberating Structures joins forces with organizational storytelling, creativity in the workplace, and other like minded movements that are breathing life back into traditional Western-style meetings.
The Culture Company
This is, to me, a collection of Dialogic Organizational Development techniques. As such, it is AMAZING! Most OD books are really focused on the theory, and give a broad outline of the practices. This book is all practice and hardly any theory. If you're into Dialogic OD or interested in learning about it, this book has some REALLY practical stuff to help you get into the process of finding out why Dialogic OD is so interesting and powerful.