Liberating Structures Part 4: Tools to empower and engage

Liberating Structures are engaging tools that are able to empower people in an organization or group. This article will explore solutions and crowd sourcing as structures used for generating ideas.

In 2002, Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless worked together to develop a way for organizations big and small to engage participants through meetings that are more meaningful rather than the same old boring interactions. They developed 33 Liberating Structures.

15% Solutions

15% Solutions helps participants discover and focus on what each person has the freedom and resources to do now. This engagement gets participants to think about what small things they can act on and do now. We ask the questions or invite them to consider, “What is your 15 percent?” and “Where do you have discretion and freedom to act?”(Based around a specific topic.) First the participants think about this alone and create a list, then they find a group of two to four people to share their ideas with. Group members can consult and share ideas of what they heard.

25/10 Crowd Sourcing

25/10 Crowd Sourcing rapidly generates and sifts through a group’s most powerful, actionable ideas. This activity is fun and gets participants up and moving to generate ideas while also finding the idea that is the best one. Each person has an index card and answers the following question, “If you were 10 times bolder, what big idea would you recommend? What first step would you take to get started?” Participants then pass their cards and mull around the idea. When the bell rings, they place a score on the back of the card in their hand. A score of 5 is an awesome, high value idea and 1 is a ho-hum, low value idea. The group does this for four rounds and then adds up the numbers. The top 10 scores are read. Those are the bold ideas the group collectively can move forward with.

These are just two of the 33 Liberating Structures that help facilitate a more open dialogue of engagement and empowerment through people.

This is the third part in a series of Michigan State University Extension articles that explore Liberating Structures. Read the rest of the series:

More information can be found in their book, “The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures,” or by

Did you find this article useful?