Strategic Questions From and For Liberating Structures

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

With inspiration from Nancy White – thank you! (and make sure to check out Nancy’s blog) – I have been returning to and reviewing the list of Liberating Structures created and collected by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless for application to some strategy development work with a couple of social change networks. As described on the website:

Liberating Structures are “easy-to-learn microstructures that enhance relational coordination and trust.

Liberating Structures are meant to foster enlivening participation in groups of all sizes, making it possible to truly include and unleash everyone.”

In reviewing the various structures, I’ve pulled out and added to a list of strategic questions that could be offered in concert with different group processes (World Cafe, Open Space, pair shares, fishbowls, individual reflection, etc.) to open up possibilities …

  • Impromptu Networking
    • What burning challenge/question do you bring to this gathering?
    • What do you hope to get from and give to this group or community?
    • What is the most important conversation we have can during our time together?
  • WINFY/Troika
    • What is your challenge? What help do you need?
    • What do you need from us?
  • Paradoxical Questions
    • What opposing-yet-complementary strategies do we need to pursue simultaneously in order to be successful?

  • TRIZ/Flipping Orthodoxy
    • What things that you/we could do to achieve the worst result imaginable with respect to your/our top strategy or objective?
    • Is there anything that you/we are currently doing that in any way, shape, or form resembles the things you/we just listed? If so, what first steps will help you/we stop what you/we know creates undesirable results?
    • What things are you/we doing that you/we might flip on their head and do the opposite to achieve better results?
  • 25/10
    • If you/we were ten times bolder, what big idea would you/we recommend? What first step would you/we take to get started?
  • 15% Solution
    • What is your/our 15 percent solution? Where do you/we have discretion and freedom to act? What can you/we do without more resources or authority?”

  • Panarchy
    • How might you/we think about interventions at different “levels” of the system with which we are concerned: micro- (individual, groups), meso- (organizations, networks, communities), macro- (regions, policy, culture)?
    • On which levels have attention and resources been invested to date? Which levels have been neglected?
    • Which “levels” draw your/our attention now?
  • Ecocycle
    • What needs/is ready to be birthed?
    • What needs/is ready to be strengthened/matured?
    • What needs/is ready to be stopped?
  • Social Webbing
    • Who else would you/we like to include in this work?
    • Who could boost your/our work?
    • Whose work could you/we boost?

For more on strategic questioning, check out the work of Fran Peavey.

What other strategic questions have you used effectively to liberate possibilities?

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