In the September Knowledge Café, the global KM4dev community explored how Liberating Structures reinforce up knowledge management and knowledge sharing by engaging everyone as an active player, contributor, and learner.

The community tested in four example areas of knowledge management how Liberating Structures could be applied:

  • Teaming: How teams can take their collaboration to the next level – with Nancy White
  • Values: How the values of Liberating Structures can bring energy and robustness into knowledge management – with Ewen Le Borgne
  • Complexity: How knowledge management in complex contexts can be supported by Liberating Structures embracing that complexity – with Michael Victor
  • Engagement: How everyone can be engaged and contribute his/ her knowledge – with myself

Here an impression:

I was leading the session on engagement. We tested Min Specs and sorted out step by step what is essential to tap into the knowledge of EVERYONE.

My question to the group was:
We want to hear all voices.
Consider all perspectives.
Value all experiences.

Here is how it worked

  1. The first step was: Specify the absolute “Must-do” and “Must-not-do” for tapping into the knowledge of everyone. For a couple of minutes everyone went with paper and pen into brainstorming mode and generated a list of all must-do and must-not-do. “Put everything, brainstorm widely! These are your Max. Specs.”
  2. Ideally, I would have put people into small groups of 3-4 to share the items on their Max. Specs. list and make it as complete as possible. (For technical reasons this was not possible, so we worked with the whole group of around 20 people sharing through chat and hearing some verbal contributions).
  3. After hearing the others, everyone was expanding his/ her personal list.
  4. The 2nd step was: Look at your Max. Specs. list, test each item against the purpose statement [in our case tapping into the knowledge of everyone, hear all voices, consider all perspectives). Can you violate this requirement and still achieve your purpose? Again, individually first, everyone scrolled through her/ his list and checked each item: Can it be violated, and the purpose still achieved? If yes, then the item is dropped from the list.
  5. Again, ideally, I would have put people back into small groups of 3-4 to reduce their list and narrow it down to the bare essential. We did it individually. I invited everyone to be tough and focused: Strive for minimalism and select the 3 that are essential and crucial. These are your Min. Specs.!
  6. With the entire group, we shared the Min Specs and insights trough the chat and orally.

Here is our harvest:

I am sure with a bit more time and the option to have a rhythm of 1-2-4-all we would have achieved an even more beautiful list of Min. Specs. for tapping into the knowledge of everyone.

An afterthought

Min Specs is helpful for putting ideas, guiding principles, themes, and questions into words, listing, and displaying them so that the items can be sorted, tested, and prioritised.

What you gain is an overview and clarity. You see what is important, what really matters and deserves your attention.

I agree with my friend Ewen, let’s Enjoy a simpler life with ‘Min Specs’, the “Marie Kondo of Liberating Structures”. We tend to make work and life hard for ourselves with too many must-do and must-not-do. Min Specs is a cleansing and revealing exercise to eliminate the clutter.

What is essential, that is the question.
Get rid of the rest.

What’s your experience with using Min Specs?

Other Liberating Structures that are marvellous to use online: Mad Tea, Troika Consulting, Conversation Cafe

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