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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

Let Loose with Liberating Structures: My Research and Design Lifesaver



Greetings, fellow innovation navigators and research wranglers! Gather round, pull up a chair, and let me spin you a yarn about the miraculous discovery that truly saved my sanity: the wonderful world of Liberating Structures by Lipmanowicz and McCandless.


Picture this: You're standing at the edge of a chasm called 'Research and Design'. You have your project, your team, and the ambition to cross this canyon. However, all you have to build your bridge is a box full of traditional meeting formats, outdated brainstorming methods, and a sticky-note tower teetering on the brink of collapse. Things look bleak, my friend.


Then, as despair sets in, a ray of hope: you stumble upon Liberating Structures. Suddenly, building that bridge doesn't seem so daunting.


1. The Great Unshackling

My first encounter with Liberating Structures was akin to discovering the Golden Fleece, the Holy Grail, or at the very least, the remote control that had been missing for months.

These strategies allow for everyone - not just the loudest or most senior in the room - to contribute their ideas, thereby bypassing the "I-Should-Have-Said" Syndrome that comes when the shy intern's brilliant idea gets overshadowed by Greg from Accounting's pie chart obsession.


2. Everyone's an Expert - Kinda

Using Liberating Structures, I realized that everyone's knowledge is a puzzle piece. Without each one, the picture is incomplete. Even our resident plant whisperer found a platform for her ideas. Turns out, the principles of photosynthesis can be an incredible metaphor for team growth. Who knew?


3. Houdini-ing Hierarchies

One of my favorite things about Liberating Structures is the way it Houdini's the heck out of hierarchies. In the magical world of these structures, the boss isn't always the big boss. Power dynamics? Poof! They vanish quicker than you can say, "unilateral decision-making."


4. Ideas in the Driver's Seat

Before, our ideas were like timid passengers clinging onto the "Oh Crap" handle in a vehicle driven by time constraints and tunnel vision. With Liberating Structures, our ideas got their driver's license, car keys, and were off on the open road, wind in their metaphorical hair, pushing the pedal to the metal.


5. The Victory Dance

So, did Liberating Structures help us build our bridge across the Research and Design chasm? Absolutely. But more importantly, they taught us the 'Macarena' of management. Left hand in, right hand out, shake it all about, and voila! You have a structure that engages everyone, harnesses collective intelligence, and produces innovative results.


So, there you have it, folx. If you find yourself on the precipice of a research and design project, or if you've already begun construction with traditional tools and the bridge is looking more like a plank, then give Liberating Structures a whirl.


I guarantee you'll find the experience as liberating as singing in the shower, skinny dipping at midnight, or finally deleting that Excel spreadsheet you've been clinging onto since 2015. Trust me, you'll be doing the 'Macarena' of victory in no time!


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