Last Friday I was lucky to be the Mid Atlantic Facilitator’s Network February speaker. Of course, instead of talking about something I was totally comfortable with, I decided to explore the application of Liberating Structures to knowledge sharing, AND to explore the use of the structures in an online “webinar” environment. Nothing like jumping off the bridge. But the water was wonderful. I owe a lot to the hosting team (thanks Dana and Fran), the daring participants who were willing to push their use of Adobe Connect a bit further than normal, and the support of the wider LS community of users.
Here are the cleaned up slides. I included cleaned up versions of the chat transcripts in the respective “harvest” slides (which started out blank).
We are building a nice bunch of people who want to experiment more with Liberating Structures online. If you are interested, check out our LinkedIn group and join us!
There is something in the air! All the interesting facilitation and process stuff emerging like Groupworks Deck and Liberating Structures are prompting people involved with them from a face to face perspective to begin considering them in online and distributed contexts. At the Liberating Structures workshop in Seattle last week, a Open Space breakout group resolved to explore more and we’ve started a Google Group (leave a comment or email me to join). Now Tim Bonnemann is getting a group activated around the Groupworks Deck pattern language. Here is his offer!
I’ve mentioned the Group Works project before, a multi-year effort to explore and document the “deeper core of what brings a group conversation alive”…
One of my main interests in this area from the very beginning has been the question if and to what extent these kinds of underlying principles, building blocks or patterns might apply to online or virtual environments.
Some patterns should translate fairly easily, for example:
Closing: The formal ritual that concludes the collective time and space by completing the cycle of a group process. Include everyone, acknowledge the end of the time together and mark the transition point, ushering in a shift to what follows.
Mirroring: Empathically reflect back the essence of what someone has said so the speaker feels heard, genuinely acknowledged and appreciated. Honouring people’s gifts can heal individuals and relationships, unblock stuck places, and get energy flowing again.
Yes, and: Build on what someone just said to offer encouragement and carry it further. Affirm their ideas, then extend them to a deeper understanding or add a new twist. Create momentum by saying “Yes, and . . .”
Others, maybe not so easily:
Circle: A Circle is a safe, solid, yet permeable space with an inside, an outside, and a focus that moves from person to person. A welcoming form where everyone can see each other and all voices are heard, it creates a field that invites sharing and story.
Holding Space: Be fully present, aware of what’s happening in the whole gathering right now–physically, energetically, emotionally, and intellectually. Open and hold the psychological and spiritual space to provide a steady centre and container. Calmly maintain trust, safety, and focus.
Silence: The rests between notes make the music. Take a quiet moment to tune into yourself or the group. Invite Silence to slow the process, make space for questions, transition, or simply deepen.
Over the next few months, I’d like to spend some time exploring. If you share the same interest and would like to get involved, please let me know, and we’ll take it from there.
A lot of fun thinking and learning… are you ready to join in?
And so recently, we’ve prototyped an exercise at various workshops and events called ’2 degrees of separation’ that has worked so remarkably well that a) I wanted to share it and b) see if anybody can help prove exactly how it works. The way we have run it to date is as follows:
In a room of at least 30 people, ask everybody to think of a project or problem they are working on right now where what would really help them is to be introduced to a specific person or organisation.
Invite people to then take it in turns to shout out the name of who they are trying to reach, and also to briefly introduce themselves (if necessary) and why they want this introduction.
Ask the whole group if anybody knows that person or organisation directly, or might know how to reach them, and if so to raise their hands.
If so, just point them out to each other so they can chat afterwards and repeat the process a few times.
We’ve now done this exercise 3 or 4 times with group sizes varying from about 30 to nearly 100 and every single time we’ve been able to make a productive connection. And whilst I thought it would probably work I am struck how well it has worked so far.