Liberating Structures

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Oct 4, 2022
Updated on
Mar 26, 2023
Table of Content

Liberating Structures are a collection of simple yet powerful facilitation techniques that can help Scrum teams (or any team/group) interact more effectively. Liberating Structures can be used in remote or in-person meetings, workshops, and training sessions. They help unleash people's creativity and potential by providing a structure for participation. In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of Liberating Structures and how you can use them to improve your group interactions!

What Are Liberating Structures?

Liberating Structures were created by an international network of facilitators who work together to create user-friendly facilitation methods that support organizational change and innovation. Liberating Structures help groups to design and implement their own participatory processes by providing a menu of easy-to-learn "microstructures" that can be used in many different situations.

Liberating Structures have been used in a wide variety of settings, including businesses, schools, non-profits and government agencies. The aim of Liberating Structures is to empower people to participate fully in the design and implementation of their own lives and work.

Liberating Structures provide a framework for people to take control of their own destinies and co-create the future they want to see. Liberating Structures is about giving people the tools they need to thrive in a constantly changing world. 

They contrast traditional, hierarchical meeting structures where only a few people are expected to speak and make decisions. Liberating Structures involve all members of the group in the planning and decision-making process. This leads to better buy-in from everyone involved and helps to prevent any one person from feeling overwhelmed or left out. Liberating structures have been shown to be effective in a variety of settings, from businesses to schools to government agencies. They can be used in any situation where people need to work together towards a common goal. Liberating structures provide a simple yet powerful way to encourage collaboration and democracy in any setting.

Liberating Structures are designed to help groups of people work together more effectively. The term was coined by Henri Lipmanowicz and Liberating Structures International, LLC (LSI) in 2010. There are 33 different Liberating Structures that can be used in a variety of settings. 


The "1–2–4-All" structure is a simple but powerful way to get everyone in a group to participate. It involves each person sharing their thoughts on a topic with two other people for two minutes, then four minutes, then eight minutes. This structure helps ensure that everyone can share their ideas and that the conversation can move at a comfortable pace. 

Impromptu Networking

Impromptu networking is another Liberating Structure that can be used to help groups of people connect with each other. This structure involves having each person introduce themselves to two other people in the group and share something about themselves that they think would be interesting to the other person. This structure is a great way to help people get to know each other and build rapport. 


TRIZ is a Liberating Structure that helps groups of people solve problems creatively. TRIZ stands for "the theory of inventive problem solving." This structure involves looking at a problem from different angles and brainstorming creative solutions. 

Wise Crowds

“Wise crowds” is a Liberating Structure that can be used when making decisions as a group. This structure involves gathering input from a diverse group of people and using collective intelligence to make decisions. 


Crowdsourcing is a Liberating Structure that can be used to gather ideas from a large group of people. This structure involves soliciting ideas from a wide audience and using collective intelligence to select the best ideas. 


Appreciative interviews are a type of Liberating Structure that involves asking interviewees about times when they felt particularly good about their work or their team. The aim of this exercise is to help identify what factors contribute to a feeling of satisfaction and motivation within the workplace. 

5-Whys (Root Cause Analysis)

The 5-Whys analysis is another popular liberating structure. This exercise involves asking why a problem exists five times in order to get to the root cause of the issue. This is an effective way to identify problems that may be caused by underlying issues, and it can also help prevent problems from happening in the future. 

Wicked Questions

Wicked Questions are another type of Liberating Structure that can be used to encourage creative thinking. These questions are designed to challenge assumptions and provoke thought. They often have no right or wrong answer, but they can help groups of people to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.

Improv Prototyping

Improv Prototyping is a great way to generate ideas quickly and efficiently. To use Improv Prototyping, all you need is a group of people and a problem to solve. Each person in the group takes turns coming up with an idea, and then the group as a whole decides which idea to pursue. This Liberating Structure is particularly helpful when time is limited or when there is a need to generate a large number of ideas.

Liberating Structures provide groups with tools to work together more effectively. These structures can be used in a variety of settings, from businesses to schools to government organizations. Liberating Structures help groups of people connect with each other, solve problems creatively, make decisions collectively, and gather ideas from a wide audience.

Why Are Liberating Structures Advantageous?

Liberating Structures are process-oriented tools that aim to improve the way we work together. They are designed to promote group collaboration, creativity, and engagement. 

  • One of the benefits of Liberating Structures is that they can help level the playing field between teams. Liberating Structures provide a common language and set of expectations that can help to improve communication and collaboration between groups. 
  • Liberating Structures can also help create a more engaging and creative work environment. By encouraging all team members to participate in the decision-making process, liberating structures can help ensure that everyone feels invested in the outcome. 
  • In addition, they can help people connect with each other on a deeper level and to build trust. 

Liberating structures are an advantageous tool because they promote collaboration, creativity, and engagement. When used effectively, they have the potential to improve the way we work together.

Top Tips for Using Liberating Structures

The key principles of Liberating Structures are simple: allow everyone to participate, move beyond the usual suspects, and focus on what is important. However, Liberating Structures can be flexibly applied to any situation, and there are many different ways to use them. Here are some tips for getting the most out of Liberating Structures: 

As a facilitator, don't do the bulk of the talking; instead, allow team members to be the most vocal. One of the key principles of Liberating Structures is that everyone should be allowed to participate. This means that as a facilitator, you should encourage team members to speak up and share their ideas. Resist the urge to do all the talking yourself; instead, let team members take the lead.

Incorporate a 'talking stick' in discussions. Another way to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate is to incorporate a 'talking stick' into discussions. The talking stick can be passed around from person to person, with each person having the opportunity to speak without interruption. This helps ensure that everyone feels heard and included in the discussion.

Get the admin right. Liberating Structures can be a bit confusing at first, so it's important to make sure you understand the rules and guidelines before you start. Once you're familiar with the basics, it'll be much easier to use them effectively.

Make sure the room is big enough. Liberating Structures require everyone to be equally spaced out, so it's important to make sure you have enough room. If the team is too cramped, it'll be difficult to focus and work effectively.

Have visual aids. Liberating structures can be tough to follow if you're not used to them. Having some visual aids (e.g., whiteboards) can help the team understand what's going on and stay focused.

Don't stick too closely to the framework—let the flow of the meeting dictate where you go. Liberating Structures is a flexible framework that can be adapted to any situation. As such, don't feel like you need to adhere to the framework in every case strictly. Instead, let the flow of the meeting dictate where you go next. This will help ensure that the meeting is tailored specifically to your goals and needs. 

By following these tips, you can ensure that Liberating Structures are used effectively in your next meeting or gathering. By allowing everyone to participate, focusing on what is important, and being flexible in your approach, you can create an engaging and productive environment.

How to Obtain a Liberating Structure Certification

Liberating Structures certification is necessary to use Liberating Structures. Liberating structures are specific facilitation practices that help create more engaging, productive meetings and workshops. 

Liberating Structures aim to provide everyone with an equal opportunity to contribute and make it easier for people with different backgrounds and perspectives to work together. In order to achieve this, Liberating Structures use simple rules and exercises that anyone can learn. 

Liberating Structures Training is an approach to problem-solving that uses a set of easy to learn facilitation methods to quickly and inclusively involve everyone in the design of work, organizations, and societies. 

Liberating Structures Training methods are used around the world by business leaders, social entrepreneurs, educators, government innovators, healthcare providers, and many others. The training equips you with 33 Liberating Structures methods. 

Each Liberating Structure is a tool that can be used to achieve specific outcomes when facilitation is needed. Liberating Structures have been developed over the past 30 years by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless.

There are two ways to become certified in Liberating Structures: The first is by attending a Liberating Structures workshop, which is typically two days long. The second is completing the Liberating Structures Certification Program, an online course that takes approximately four weeks to complete. 

The Liberating Structures Certification Program is designed for Scrum Masters and Scrum Teams who want to learn how to use It in their work. 

By the end of the program, you will have the knowledge and skills necessary to use Liberating Structures in your work. You will also be prepared to take the Liberated Structures Certified Facilitator exam.


Liberating Structures are a powerful way to engage groups of any size, and they can be used for everything from problem-solving to team building. 

If you want to learn how to use these structures in your work, or if you’re looking for a way to improve group productivity, consider getting certified in Liberating Structures. 

With our help at GoRetro, you can become an expert in this innovative way of working and make your teams more effective than ever. Have you tried out any Liberating Structures in your work? Let us know how it went!

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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