LS London 2019 year in review

Year in review

2019 was the second year of LS London. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring and playing with the LS community. Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve done:

January 2019

For our first meetup of the year, Nikki Wilson took us through a personal reflection and evaluation using Ecocycle planning.

We followed with some peer-to-peer coaching using Troika consulting.

Around the community, the UK Government’s “Transforming Together” community published it’s 7 Lenses maturity matrix, and recommended use of Liberating Structures in maturity assessment workshops.

Arif Bobat, a graduate of the November 2018 2-day LS immersion workshop, ran a very well received workshop on change for an internal community at his organisation, based on LS.

Kathleen and David had fun introducing journalists and data hackers to Liberating Structures at the Hacks/Hackers meetup.

February

In February we explored the world of OKRs and how they relate to Liberating Structures.

Peter Kappus introduced us to OKRs:

We then ran a shift-and-share where four different practitioners gave stories and shared their perspectives and experiences on applying OKRs and other methods for organisational alignment and evaluation.

We concluded the meetup by exploring wicked questions, a way to explore paradox in a constructive way.

Around the community, Alexis Pala of YLab Wales published an article in Apolitical about how Liberating Structures help organisations avoid groupthink and tap into collective intelligence, and also started the Cardiff LS meetup which has been going strong since then!

March

Our march meetup explored Improv Prototyping, a fun way to rehearse and refine interpersonal interactions. See the twitter thread for some reflections:

March was also the occasion of the first ever LS Global Gathering, which took place in Seattle. Kathleen blogged about it here:

April

April’s meetup was hosted by Katie Taylor at the Wellcome Trust.

We explored the paradoxes of openness and transparency using wicked questions.

May

In May we hosted our first “home grown” two day immersion workshop, organised by members of London Liberating Structures community in partnership with Happy Ltd:

Join us again this spring – 30 April-1 May 2020

Our May meetup was also hosted by Happy, where explored how we can create happy workplaces:

June

In June we were in a lovely space at Cloudflare on the South Bank. We decided to explore purpose-to-practice a structure which is also a string of structures and invitations.

We ran out of time to complete the full five elements, but managed to make some good progress on Purpose and Principles:

Purpose - This meetup exists in order to:

  • Gain access to diverse perspective and support diverse work
  • Practice in safe spaces
  • Learning by doing
  • Build honesty
  • Improve oneself
  • Expand this way of thinking
  • Try new things
  • Include everyone, new people welcomed
  • Promote the greater good / free / spirit of generosity
  • Share experiences & knowledge. Everyone benefits
  • Participate / Giving. Interact. Learn. Reflect.
  • Build confidence

Principles - we will do this by

  • Contribute
  • Listen to others
  • Learn through doing
  • Respect
  • Turn up
  • Be reflective???

Around the wider LS community, Zoe Lord and her colleagues started off a new Midlands LS user group:

It was also really great to see Chris Smith using LS for a large-scale company retrospective:

July

July’s meetup was hosted by Potato London and led by Kathleen Bright. The theme was exploring burnout and recovery using Drawing Together and Discovery and Action Dialogue.

Around the network, the Scotland user group held another meetup:

August - Social network webbing

A few takeaways:

  • visualising our network helps us to think about it in a different way.
  • Making it tangible makes it possible for multiple people to collaborate.
  • Patterns and connections are revealed which would otherwise be hard to identify.
  • One person described how a conversation is “one dimensional” whereas the visualisation makes it two dimensional.
  • At the same time we felt that the conversations and discussions as the network map was developed are more important than the final artefact.

Ideas for possible application include helping to spread ideas and good practice through and organisation and business development.

Focusing on “weak” connections and gaps in the network can help grow diversity.

European learning gathering

Some of us also attended the Liberating Structures European Learning Gathering in Hamburg. Kathleen wrote another awesome blog post about what they learned. Check the #LSELG hashtag for more highlights.

September

We explored building LS strings using the LS match maker:

A very fruitful pub conversation led us to discover Paul Tolchinsky, a leading thinker in the world of Organisation Design.

Bristol Reinventing Work network ran an LS Lab

October - Service design

We started with a UX Fishbowl where service design practitioners explained a bit about the ideas and principles of service design.

Then we played with Improv prototyping to see how they might be used to prototype services. Hilarity ensued as people put on their best acting voice to play the role of an elevator, email message or street map!

Joe Badman wrote up a really nice blog post.

Immersion workshop

We also held our second Immersion workshop of the year, supported by LS Pioneers Fisher Qua and Anna Jackson.

Paul Brennan of Cardiff University joined the design team for the workshop and blogged about his learnings.

Workshop participant John Burgoyne from the Centre for Public impact also blogged his reflections.

November - Critical uncertainties

Another new structure to us, Critical Uncertainties helps individuals or groups build robust and resilient plans for an uncertain future.

Summing up

Having reviewed all that’s happened this year, we’ve covered a huge amount. The network of Liberating Structures practitioners and users in the UK and around the world has grown.

For 2020 we’d like to continue to support and grow the community of LS practitioners. We always love to hear from you about what’s going well in your practice or what questions you have. Please drop us an email with your thoughts, suggestions or questions.

We also always need more help with running the meetup. Here are some examples of things that we need:

  • planning events, get involved with the design process
  • writing for the website
  • writing emails, twitter and other social media channels
  • organising logistics for events
  • finding and confirming venues

If you’d like to get involved please drop us an email!