“How wonderful our team met with a new way of having our meetings. Now we are challenged.”

That could be the feedback of one of my clients from an academic institute after a Liberating Structures immersion workshop. Since our in-house training, the team has been experimenting a lot. They are passionate to bring their meeting practice to the next level. They are dedicated to integrating the new interaction structures into their meeting repertoire. They appreciate the focus and energy Liberating Structures is giving them. They see the potential for a more inclusive, dynamic, and engaging way of working together as a team and with their partners.

So, what happened that the eager team feels challenged?

Adopting a new approach is not only sunshine.

The team observes some difficulties with trying to change. Sometimes it is simply easier and faster to meet the old way. 

Their habits are getting in the way.

Overcoming bad habits is hard to do. It helps to have a pleasant substitute for a bad habit or an unproductive behavior. For me, Liberating Structures (LS) offer new options. They are helping me become a better leader.

Keith McCandless

The risk of Snap Back is on the lure.

The risk of falling back to old habits is called Snap Back. The term was coined by Brenda Zimmermann, Keith McCandless introduced me to her thinking.

Habits are resilient.

And sticky. What the team practiced over years, and most probably the generation of teammates before them created their organisational meeting habit. This felt familiar and therefore safe. One knew what to expect and how to behave.

The wish to leave outdated, dysfunctional, and disengaging patterns behind is important but not enough.

Adopting a new way is work.

Changing meeting patterns takes time because you are working against 200 years of habits.

Keith McCandless

Finding a new balance takes time.

The first step is experimenting to create a new experience that, in turn, creates outcomes that are motivating and stimulating.

The team leaders are driving this process by making space for experimentation and protecting that space. They know that ‘stop and start’ go hand in hand.

The STOPPING is the first (and often main) obstacle. Providing a safe environment to try/repeat/play/develop comfort with the “new no yet habit” can make the stopping feel safer but eventually jumping in the water cannot be avoided. Not everybody will feel up to it and that is OK. Some will lead, some will follow, and some will pass.

Henri Lipmanowicz

Pushing the tipping point

It needs the whole team supporting each other to make it last.

The team I introduced to you is doing well. They have a buddy system and moments of joint after reflection. The risk of Snap Back gets smaller and smaller because the new way is just too good. Going back to the old patterns is no option any longer.

Teasing out new dynamics and outcomes in collaboration needs probably a bit of an explorative and adventurous mind-set.

Are you adventurous?

If YOU are one of these adventurous minds keen to explore refreshing approaches that spice up your daily collaboration and meetings, then check out the newest offer to dive into Liberating Structures. I am pretty sure that you will enjoy the magical power of the little interaction structures in your daily collaboration, that your conversations will become grander and that the solutions you will find will be satisfyingly novel. 

Upcoming opportunities

Liberating Structures online immersion workshop, November 3&4 and 24&25, 2022. Join the silent revolution set in motion by Liberating Structures.

More stories

This blog post is part V of a series on how to fall in love with your ordinary meetings: