Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless are the authors of “The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures”. We talk about how Liberating Structures can help you “act your way into a totally new way of organising”, for example, reinventing how we do strategy. Henri and Keith share the fundamental principles of Liberating Structures and examples of powerful transformations, in organisations and schools, catalysed by simply having different kinds of conversations.
Lisa Gill: So, Keith, and Henri, thank you for being on the Leadermorphosis podcast first of all. And, maybe if we start somewhere simple, could you tell the listeners what are Liberating Structures?
Henri Lipmanowicz: Keith is nodding, so he's gonna explain this to us.
Keith McCandless: That's seemingly a simple question, Lisa. And I think the best way to say it for your listeners, as they want to transform an organisation, is Liberating Structures are microstructures that shape how people relate to each other. And so the structure part is, who speaks and who they speak to, and how long they have, and little trivial things that structure the pattern of relating this pattern of conversation.
And because of that little microstructure - little itty bitty simple shifts in conventional patterns - a distributed form of organising is possible. And with that more distributed form, intelligence, vitality, and a bunch of other wonderful things are possible. That's the liberation part.
Henri Lipmanowicz: So one way to understand this is to look at one example, a very simple structure. We call it 1-2-4-All. And what it consists of is asking a group of people of any size to spend a moment alone thinking about something and maybe writing down a question or comment or whatever. And then spending a couple of minutes in pairs, going further into the question or the comments or whatever. Then in groups of four, two pairs together, and then sharing the most important thing that they have come across from each group with the rest of the assembly. So that's a very, very simple way to get everybody to participate in whatever is happening that one wants to do. It's a very simple thing that anybody can learn very quickly. You've just learned how to do 1-2-4-All. And now you can do it.
Lisa Gill: Yeah, I think that's something that really appeals to me about Liberating Structures is that you don't have to be a facilitator or to do any kind of certification. You learn by doing, by experiencing them. And, and once you've experienced a Liberating Structure, you can try it out in your own organisation, it can spread virally. I first started experimenting with them just by reading the book, or looking on the website, and just having a go and 1-2-4-All is such a simple but powerful microstructure that people can use in meetings, or any kinds of discussions to kind of get a sense of what's going on in the group. But in a way that everyone can participate. And you can kind of crystallise, I guess, and distil some of that in a meaningful way without it being this kind of messy, open discussion.
So at present, there are 33 Liberating Structures. And I know there are some others in development, and now there's a big community around Liberating Structures. But what prompted you to curate these microstructures in the first place? What was the calling for you to bring them into the world?
Keith McCandless: Well, it totally came out of our practice. So if there's a motto or a tagline for Liberating Structures, it's act your way into a new kind of organising. You probably aren't going to think your way into it. Or it's going to take forever if you think your way into it. So the fastest way to move forward is to act your way. So, in our consulting practice, we found each other in a science institute that Henri founded after he retired, and we are both pretty practical. We were listening to mathematicians and physicists and biologists and ecologists, got inspired by the complexity science thinking, and then we went out and started doing things and people were doing things with that. And saying, you know, you have got to write this down. There were encouragements along the way. And even though we were practising, the results of what we were doing, Lisa, were mysterious. It's like, what just happened? How could that be?
We had an experience in Ohio with a big health system, and we were doing sort of an early version of Wise Crowds, and User Experience Fishbowl. And we had them doing the work. And Henri and I were both going, wow, this is still a bad meeting. Is anything happening? And then the boss, the CEO of the whole thing, stood up, very excited, kind of waved his arms, just said out loud: “Everything we just did, that's a final decision. That's the best conversation we've ever had.” And Henri and I were both like, what happened? What happened that was different?
And I don't know about you, Henri, but for me, it was like, I really wanted to figure out like, why was that powerful for the client? Why did that user or group of users, and this was pretty high profile... what happened for them? So Henri may have another answer.
Henri Lipmanowicz: Well there are a couple of things, I mean, one of them, as you recall, I was one of the founders of an institute - and I mean, Keith was very much at the centre of that too - called Plexus Institute, that was devoted to spreading ideas about complex systems, you know, and the notion that you could use those ideas and those concepts as a way of organising, you know, as a way of running organisations.
And so the idea was that organisations are complex systems, they're not machines. And therefore we shouldn't run them like machines, you know. That they are not controllable, or hierarchical systems don't really work well, etc. So we had a lot of people who were interested in and loved the idea. But, we didn't know what we were doing to start with really - not at the level that we can talk about now certainly. Is that fair, Keith? Is that reasonable?
Keith McCandless: Yeah, I'd say that we practiced together out in the field for 10 or 12 years before we got serious. And it's sort of like, you know, you put an outfit on in the morning, and there's like that old saying, you always take one thing off. Well, we had a group of things that we did, practices. And once we got serious, we needed to dramatically simplify. Like, take stuff away. There wasn't any adding. What we were doing was, you know, fine, but it was way too complicated. We wanted the minimum specifications for each activity that would generate, that would have the most generative output. Both in the vitality of the group and what they were trying to do.
And that was a little different than what we were doing out in the wild. That was about writing, and then testing again, and then could somebody else do what we all had, you know, up in our fuzzy heads. Those are two separate things we did once we started writing, and having people try things. And it's time for another book, Henri, it really is. The practitioners have outpaced us by a good measure, the global community of practitioners are continuing to simplify. And like, Lisa, you suggested, there's at least six, maybe eight really good new Liberating Structures, that address needs. They aren't just about anything, they address needs that were not addressed in the first 33.
Henri Lipmanowicz: So I want to add a couple of things that are important. And that is that, I think, for me, speaking for me, and I would assume for Keith as well, I don't think we would have engaged in what we did, without the reaction of the people that were exposed to the structure. I think this was a revelation. You know, it was really the impact that we had, when we did some of these early workshops with groups of people, and how quickly the dynamics in the group changed.
It was really dramatic, and how they were themselves. You know, I mean, there was sort of like an explosion of - we had never experienced anything like this. And this was, I remember going to some of those early workshops, where we had several layers of management, you know, six, seven layers, of hierarchy. And people who normally never almost hardly talk to each other, you know, and how the people at the lower level within a matter of a couple of hours started behaving completely differently. And really, you know, taking their space in the room, and so forth vis-a-vis people that were two or three echelons above them.
So those kinds of things were striking. I would sort of say, wow, what's going on here? You know, what do we have here? What is happening? So I think that was for me, that was very important. Because it wasn't, it wasn't about us thinking we've got something special here. It was about the participants telling us we have something special. So that's one thing that was a big factor. And then the process, however long and painful - and sometimes it was - the process of writing a book was a tremendous exercise because it forced us to really think through each one of those structures in ways that made it possible to make it simple, straightforward, understandable for anybody. You know, what is it? What can you do with it? What is it going to do for you? And made us also appreciate the fact that because we had this range, and that each of these structures was serving a particular purpose, when you start putting them together individually, and then start connecting them together, that you could address just about any situation.
Keith McCandless: So I want to roll back one story for Lisa, since your interest is self-organisation. So the meeting that Henri was mentioning was in Brazil, was the very first workshop we did. And there were all these levels. And then, at the end, probably 20 or 25 frontline people in the Brazil organisation, and a couple of their bosses were having a dialogue about what are they going to do when they get back or whatever it is. And this was very revealing this story, just the interaction - so the leaders were doing their normal thing, you know - what is it that you need from us? What is it that you need from us? And you can see that all the frontline people got very nervous. They were like, looking at each other - should we tell them or not? And finally, somebody got up the courage and said, “Well, really, we don't need anything from you. Nothing. I think we just got what we need in this workshop”. And then the leaders sort of went - oh, my God, what's my job now? I'm no longer needed to be the boss. I no longer need to be the provider, the boss, the father, the patriarch, the whatever it may be. That was over - at least in that moment. It evaporated. That kind of relationship went poof. I was like, yes. You know, but it was a hint. It was only a hint. Henri, how much am I exaggerating there?
Henri Lipmanowicz: But there was something else that happened, which I think was very dramatic. And that was right at the beginning of that meeting, remember. I'm pretty sure that first meeting, it was actually with my former company with Merck. And it coincided with on the Friday before that meeting, the company withdrew one of their most important products that they had. And, so, I mean, this was a very dramatic thing that happened. And this was like cutting 20% of the business overnight. And we showed up on that weekend, and the meeting was starting on Monday. And obviously, nobody could think about anything else - what's going to happen. I mean, there were people that were working for that product, so their role, their whole jobs were gone, basically, although they had no idea what's going to happen. This was announced on the Friday, you know, and everything else, you know, stock options, salaries, position, jobs, etc - what's gonna happen to the company. I mean, it was a very, very dramatic thing.
And, and so here we are on Monday morning, we're gonna have this workshop. And we knew that they had zero interest in a workshop at this point in time. And so we had this conversation, Keith and I, saying so what do we do? And then we've decided, you know, in that moment that okay, we can't do the workshop - we've got to start with something else. We have to start with something which is related to what they want. Forget us, forget our agenda.
And so we start with a Conversation Cafe, where we have a question. The invitation was, is there life after Vioxx? Vioxx was the name of the product. And we just gave them you know, time - we did two rounds, I think. We did one round, two rounds, and let them talk about it, you know. And it was amazing. After an hour and a half or so, they had unloaded everything, you know, that they needed to talk about by themselves with each other, shared some of it across some of the groups and so forth. And when this was over, we just asked, “Okay, so are you ready to go now? Do you want to go ahead with a workshop?” And they said we are ready. And the subject didn't come up for two days again.
And so that was, for me,one of those amazing experiences of how you can do something that is profoundly simple as a structure and deal with a problem that is profoundly difficult and complex, you know, in a matter of an hour, an hour and a half kind of thing. And the one other thing that I think helped us is that many of, after many of our workshops, originally, we, we would have one extra day after the workshop, where we would invite people to come and have a consulting session with us on how they could use Liberating Structures to address whatever it was that they want to bring to us. And we would sign up for half an hour or an hour, you know, and they would come. And people would come with anything and everything. I mean, the range of subjects from personal soft things, to business things - you know, whether it was marketing, organisation management problems, you name it. You know, anything. And there has never been one single occasion where the conversation didn't lead to something useful that they could do that would help them address whatever they were confronted with, by using one or more Liberating Structures.
Lisa Gill: Yeah, it's really interesting to me because I think when I first started out doing this work I, like many people, stumbled into this trap of thinking that to find new ways of working, we have to reject anything that has a whiff of hierarchy, for example. So anything that looks like a structure or process is like “no, that's more of the old stuff that we don't want anymore”.
And I think Liberating Structures have really helped me learn that structures are paradoxically really helpful for being containers for all of this kind of human, messy stuff. And I, like you, have been in a room and experienced a complete shift in energy and agency. You know, I like this phrase, “let the structure take the strain”. That these Liberating Structures can contain all manner of kinds of heavy and difficult, messy things and somehow help people navigate them and come out the other side, empowered to do something about it.
Keith McCandless: They are a beauty. There's nothing more beautiful than that.
Henri Lipmanowicz: There is something which I think makes a big difference regularly. And that is that if you use the structure properly, you have to start with clarifying what it is that you're trying to do. What's the purpose? What's the purpose for the community? What are we trying to accomplish here? And that work very often is never done, when people work together. It's sort of assumed or it is something that is not specified or it is expressed in terms of you know, the purpose of some portion of the community, you know, or some individual that kind of thing it's - so that's that is a big thing, you know.
Having done that you then have to say okay, now that I have clarified this, what do I do? How do I get there and who should be involved in this whole thing which brings people in the process that otherwise would never be included? Those two things together, having clarified the objective, and bringing a bunch of people that otherwise would not be involved, inevitably almost ends somewhere else than otherwise would have happened. And this is, you know, we keep talking about surprise and very often this is what happens. I remember in those consulting sessions, we very often ended up in someplace nobody had anticipated and, and that was that was part of that process. And that's the richness, because in a way you know, if you're going to do something different to end up in the same place, it's not very exciting.
Lisa Gill: Yeah. On that note, I think if we take a really practical example like strategy, which traditionally is, you know, a group of chosen few top leaders, maybe in a dark cave, working on a strategy, and then they kind of come out and 'ta-da' here it is.
Keith McCandless: Get rid of the dark cave - I can tell you, we never worked in a dark cave, but yeah.
Lisa Gill: Exactly. And Keith, I know you've just written this blog about liberating strategy. So how would Liberating Structures, for the benefit of our listeners, transform how organisations do strategy as an example?
Keith McCandless: One is you can include, then scale. So you can include ridiculous numbers of people. And you just repeat the same pattern of a string of Liberating Structures, which we talked about earlier - that they all generate something that feeds into the next one. So the biggest difference probably is hearing all of the voices.
The second difference is, it's this cycle that we start with, there's six questions. It's easier to read about than talk about maybe. But it starts with purpose - what's the deepest need you serve? Why is your work important? Once you've answered that, and answered it well, we've started to also be clear about not only what the deepest need, but what in the world do you need to stop? And what do you need to start? What's the new shiny thing and just as powerful or more powerful is what do you exist to stop? So Liberating Structures exist to stop mindless or unwitting exclusion, unwitting, stifling of new ideas...
Lisa Gill: And soul destroying meetings?
Keith McCandless: It's just easy to do that, it's over. No one needs to do that any longer. So in a strategy session, you get clear on purpose then you ask - what's critical and uncertain about the environment in which you are? So Critical Uncertainties, a really lovely, really simple Liberating Structure. Then what paradoxical realities do you need to face up to that you'll avoid unless you say it out loud? So we use Wicked Questions. A simple way to talk about - oh, man, how can we need both of these things, because they're opposites. How can we be more integrated and more autonomous?
To your point about you know, all hierarchy is bad? Well, no… a small number of very integrated things and a whole bunch of autonomous things. Then where are we really? Are we getting what we need from each other? So, what I need from you is a delightful Liberating Structure full of dynamite and drama. And then, what do we hope for each other? What's possible now that we've done this work? What do we see? 25/10 Crowdsourcing is a great way to do that.
So each of these things, and then the Ecocycle for like, how, what are we going to do? And how are we going to evaluate the work as we go? How are we going to keep this moving? So Ecocycle Planning - oh my God, it's so powerful. That's at the heart of this. So that's a string that helps you include everyone in strategic planning and strategy making across the organisation. And that means that people own it. The people in the dark cave don't come out… there's no smoke signal coming out of the top. There's no need to bribe people to adopt that strategy. There's no need to try to adapt it to local situations in which it does not fit. It's caterwauling as far as I can tell. But like the 'we must be integrated', which is all control that you know, everything needs to be integrated and aligned. The alignment imperative here - we need to be the word ‘One’ and then whatever the company name is? You know, that's all about control, trying to over-control strategy. So all here, all that can disappear.
Henri Lipmanowicz: A couple of things that your question made me think about. To me, the first one is that if you do strategy, using a Liberating Structure, you are going to sweat, or not sweat, depending on how clear it is on purpose to start with. And the probability that something will come that either existed but nobody was paying any attention to it, or something will come that is different from the current emphasis of the organisation is very high. So that already puts you on a very different track. So even if you didn't do anything else, you already have changed your strategy. If you're going to address that purpose that is going to come out of those conversations that need to happen, and conversations that are sufficiently inclusive. That it is not, you know, the dark cave kind of thing. That's the first thing.
The second thing that is likely to happen is that along the way, you will quite quickly discover what needs to be done - and the people in charge don't know what to do or how to do it. Because if they knew, they would have been doing it. And so one of the reasons why, when you come up with a purpose that is really powerful and surprising - to some extent - the reason why this is not really the focus is because people don't know how to do it. And so it needs to be figured out. So there is innovation that is required. It isn't a question of just, you know, doing more of what we have done and just a slightly different mixture - put in a little more mustard and drop the soy sauce. You really have to innovate.
And so then the question gets to, well where's that going to come from? Where's it going to emerge? Who needs to be involved? Who are the people who actually are in a better position, who actually may know something? And usually they're not at the top. And they are not with some big consulting company that you can hire for millions of dollars, okay. But this is very often the kind of thing that is going to happen. You have discovered that you have to innovate. And the only way to innovate is to include the people that are in a position to do that, and let them try things, let them experiment. Because you're dealing with things where you don't know. You cannot know ahead of time that this is the right thing to do. And that already is a very different kind of strategizing when you accept the fact that you have to try different things. As opposed to, here's the strategy, we know what to do.
Keith McCandless: Well, just a little bit of a story. I try to be a kind and loving person… You should say “of course!”, Keith, and Lisa, you know I am too! [Laughs]. I like to have fun with this. So we're in the middle of a strategy workshop. It's happened multiple times, but we're just doing the Critical Uncertainties - which reveals plausible futures, you're not going to predict the future. So you're going to have to operate in surprising futures, and you generate strategy for each of those futures.
And always the senior executives are in the room with all the other people. And I'll gather them around our first version that sees the first blush of the strategies for each of these plausible futures. And I'll go - you, you knew this, you knew you thought of all these strategies in these futures, right? Oh, God, the look on their face. And the ones that I admire will admit, “we didn't think of that.” The reality is almost every group has all of its eggs in one basket because they never had a way to distribute examination and share, creating something out of their group's experience. So they have this little basket of eggs. It's either a slightly rosy or a slightly dark future - a single rosy or dark future. And that makes them incredibly vulnerable. And in that vulnerability, I poke it. And I say - well, you knew this, right? Because I don't want them to go back to assuming. It's easy to fall off the horse again, or snap back to the old - “well, we know, and we don't really, now we don't need to ask anyone again. We did it this one time, we distributed exploration or strategy making for this one time at this retreat. Oh, that's cool. Now we've done that, aren't we cool?” But no, I want them to recognise that they're never going to have it figured out. They always need everyone. And the idea that this work needs to be continuous.
And one really cool thing. A bunch of the Liberating Structures both help you see what's possible - they see where you are, and they make it possible to track that over time. So like the Ecocycle, lots of companies use it every quarter. What I Need From You – a set of agreements made to each other for what you need across functions. You can do that every quarter or every half year. Critical Uncertainties; if you're in a fast moving market, you should refresh what's critical and uncertain and what those futures are and what your strategies might be. So each of those has an ongoing evaluative quality to it, which I think when we started Henri, I thought people might do that... But it's actually a natural way to both evaluate where you are and move forward periodically…
Henri Lipmanowicz: Well, then I'm going to jump to a couple of different things. Because you made me do something quite important. Since you were talking about strategy... My personal experience is that most organisations are not good at all - and that's probably being kind - at dealing with major trouble. When something happens that is significant, that puts them in trouble... real difficult situations or decisions that are not all part of the planning - they're not prepared for that. And therefore, they have to deal with this as an emergency.
That is one thing, that doing this kind of work, using this structure gives you a chance to prepare. At least it opens the door for you to do it, because it invites you to create the scenario that is like that, and say, “Okay, if this happens, what the hell are we going to do?” Instead of crashing. So this is a big thing. And I have lived through this. And, you know, we were talking about this example with Vioxx, you know, a disaster, right? So that is one thing.
One other thing that is very difficult, I think, for most people, to appreciate about Liberating Structures because they are so simple, is to see how powerful they are as a basket, as a whole. And to imagine the possibilities of what they would be able to do, what they could do if they were to use them as a whole, regularly, routinely, etc. And so, the example that Keith was giving you, for instance, was that sort of appreciation. It takes a good amount of practice, and probably, you know, a reasonable amount of insight and imagination or whatever, to really see the potential of those structures. And to see how they could transform the way an organisation functions in work on an ongoing basis, on any number of different dimensions and subjects. So that's a big step. Because it's relatively easy for people to see - oh, this is simple, you know, 1-2-4-All. Yeah, I can do that, you know. And to use those here and there, in some meetings, or when there's a special gathering or whatever, etc. But to start functioning that way, to start thinking that way... that's a different. That's another level.
Lisa Gill: I wanted to ask: for people who are listening who had never heard of Liberating Structures before, and are really curious now and want to start trying them out, what would your advice be? What's the easiest and most effective way to start experimenting with Liberating Structures?
Keith McCandless: Just do it! But really no, I mean… The best advice is to really start using them together with some other people and start experimenting, and seeing the possibility. Keep moving forward, adding and trying to gradually expand the practice. One of the things that I've said a number of times, which is sort of looking at it backwards, is to also look at the structure and say, “Okay, I'm going to use this structure.” To start from the structure. So start from wherever, what you're doing is one way and the other way is to start from the structure and say, “Okay, I want to use the structure to see what I can do with it - to learn, to try to play with it, and see what I can do with it.” You know, to make sense of it. It's nonlinear, you know. It's an emergent property of a certain pattern of interaction.
Henri Lipmanowicz: It's a little bit like, you know... I know that Keith doesn't care for the word tool but it's like, some of them are fairly simple, but they're sophisticated in their impact, you know? Like Keith was talking about with What I Need From You. Well, until you do that a bunch of times you don't really appreciate the difficulties involved for the participant. And what to do to do it well, etc. and the potential. You don't, you can't imagine the contribution that those structures can make until you actually experience it. Because it doesn't make sense. It's like the story I was telling you about using the cafe. I was flabbergasted. If I hadn't lived through it, and somebody told me that story, I wouldn't believe it. And so you know, after you do it, you can sort of look back and sort of make sense of it to a pretty good extent, you know.
Keith McCandless: So I want to jump in on the 'get started'. There are some fears associated with it at the beginning and all the way through now for me, there's fears. And you've got to overcome them. And overcoming them has something to do with how privileged you feel at this moment in time. So where is it that you feel privileged enough that you can bring in a really different way of interacting, of organising? And some people - there was a young woman at Microsoft, she had a group of 750, she'd come to a Seattle user group, she learned 25/10 Crowdsourcing. The next week, she did 25/10 Crowdsourcing for this idea generation, a single Liberating Structure for that group. Wildly fun, successful, great. I wasn't there, but I know what happened. That happens all the time. So for one reason or another, she felt privileged enough to say, let's do this right here.
And the fear for somebody starting is: I'm going to look disorganised, I'm going to look unprepared. Because I'm asking a question, I'm not giving a PowerPoint presentation, while I'm telling you my answer. I'm actually flipping my answer into a question that we're all going to explore. In our culture, businesses, primarily Western, well, just let's just say the way we currently organise - that makes you look a little disorganised, a little bit like, “Don't you know what the answer is?” Or it's gonna be chaos, or, “Okay, here's a better way.”
All the way at the other end, all of a sudden, I had some days, I think, like, I have no expertise at all anymore. Zero. I'm obsolete. I'm making myself obsolete by these methodologies that help people organise themselves. The only thing I'm doing is helping people discover and at one point, I thought I was a pretty serious know-it-all Strategy Consultant. That was my goal in Business School, and so forth. I'm gonna be the brain at the top of the organisation. Well, that's utter nonsense. But now I still have to manage the fear. Is there anything that I offer now that the group is discovering for themselves, a direction? They're shaping their own. They're simultaneously and mutually shaping their own destiny. And what role do I have in that? Once they learn the structures, I'm no longer useful. But it does take a while to learn the structures. I'm just saying what fears are - I'm not saying they're rational.
Henri Lipmanowicz: So, let me add one thing, okay. I said something and then Keith you were talking about the structure, you know what to do. But there is another aspect that I think is fundamental, and that is the people thing. It makes a huge difference, when someone starts getting interested in using the structure, how he or she will partner with other people and will bring other people into the process. And the more anybody that is attracted to structure, the more they bring some other people together with them, the easier it will be. If nothing else, to start with in terms of learning? To do that with somebody that can watch what you're doing, give you feedback and vice versa... you're partnering with them and doing things - and Keith and I have a lot of experience in that ourselves - even doing things as a duo is an enormous difference. In terms of support, learning, comfort, you name it... and not feeling so exposed etc. And so that aspect is also something that is not instinctive for most people.
Lisa Gill: I feel like there's so much more we could talk about. And I think maybe we have to have a whole other conversation about Liberating Structures in education, because that's something that's also really interesting. But we've mentioned that you now have this growing global community of Liberating Structures practitioners and user groups, there's an app now... What do you hope will happen with Liberating Structures going forward in the future?
Henri Lipmanowicz: Well, we wrote something in the book that is still my dream. And I think, in some way, it's going to happen, not necessarily under that label. What I hope is that everybody will learn them, at least a small number of them, that they can use for the rest of their life. Because they are so basic to how people interact with each other, the same way as, you know, it's pretty common for people to learn how to make presentations, or slides or whatever, or to write a memo, that kind of thing. I mean, 1-2-4-All, you know, how complicated is that? Or Troika Consulting, and that kind of thing.
And so, so what I hope is that - you were talking about education - what I hope is that teachers will use them routinely, starting at the lowest level in school, and that kids will get exposed to them as a result of that just sort of by itself. And they will learn them without having to learn them, because they are just exposed to it on a daily basis. And so they will propagate that way. That's what I hope. What name will be on them, what label will be on that, I have no idea, you know. Whether they will still be called Liberating Structures, or somebody will reinvent them and put their own name on it and call it whatever. But I cannot, I can't see why they wouldn't spread because they are so simple.
Keith McCandless: Yeah, that's great. But it has to be everywhere in the world. In every domain too, you didn't say the normal. Usually Henri doesn't have a small hope for the world. It's everywhere, for everyone. I'd love to chat more about schools. So I've had a few experiences with schools now. Mostly higher education, more than a few experiences, and even some high school elementary. It's pretty easy to introduce these things.
But one school in particular, Kaospilot in Denmark, I don't know if you're familiar with it, Lisa, they were kind of ready for the 'how to' part. Like they'd been really into self-managing, self-organising, studied up. So a couple years ago, I was invited into one of their classes to just introduce the structures. We formed a little ensemble of students that would co-lead and their faculty designer. We did a good job. And you know, they were getting started, and I'm there and just loving the energy of the school and leadership and students. We're about 90 minutes into a three day shindig workshop. And the two students who are with me, they get a feel for 1-2-4-All, and Impromptu Networking. And we did a couple things, and we're getting some stuff. And it was really clear, they just kind of looked at me, you know, tilting their head the littlest bit and said, “Keith, we've got this.”
And I felt, you know, this little twinge of back off, or thanks. That very thing I was talking about earlier, that “we don't need you anymore”. I've waited for adults to do these things for years, for 10 years. And they did them in their 20s or early 20s. They did them immediately. As far as you want to see, people have freedom and use it responsibly. There's more freedom and more responsibility. They were able to ask for what they need from each other. Get what they need. When they didn't get it, they'd say all the kinds of things you want in a mature organisation. They are Kaospilots, they give people, the students a chance to organise their own learning, truly from the ground up. I never went to an alternative school, I didn't shape my own education, I had some more freedom than most people. But this took my breath away. And it gave me confidence that young people can pick this up at the speed that Henri is imagining, at the speed and the depth.