Connecting at Liberating Structures Global Gathering 2019, and beyond: There and back again 🚶🏿‍♀️

It’s all about connecting together, communication and collaboration.

“What’s important?”, asked Tas.
Kathleen thought for a moment, before asserting, “People & Relationships”.

Selfie of Kathleen and Tas in front of the Min Specs of Connection created by the participants of our session. They read must make first step and be contactable, must not forget
Kathleen and Tas in front of the Min Specs created by the participants of our session on connectedness

Before arriving in Seattle, I set myself the intention of amplifying connection at the Global Gathering. I prepared to do that by:

  • Ordering a box of blank cards to turn into impromptu business cards,
  • Remembering to take breaks instead of going to sessions, and
  • Getting enough rest before and during the gathering…
  • Oh, and designing a bunch of sessions…
  • And jumping on all the design calls, plus creating a few of my own

Mission: Accomplished 🏆

If you wish you’d been there, why not interview someone who attended? There’s a list of attendees who are available for that. Just get in touch!

Photo of a clear and calm blue lake under blue skies, boats in the mid-distance, trees and houses on hills in the far distance
Beautiful view of Lake Union near my accommodation

People of Colour Caucus to kick off

Forming a People of Colour Caucus at the start of day 1 set the stage for the rest of the event for me. I’m so grateful to Amber for creating the space, and to all of us for making the time to connect.

Key learning

Start a POC Caucus at every unconference I attend in future.

Helping organisations be more humane

I led this session on day 1.

  • Designing this session reinforced the power of collaboration. With 3 virtual design calls, wellbeing chats, feedback over non-alcoholic cocktails…
  • These conversations helped me assess what I was trying to cram into one session. They enabled me to unravel the strands into four sessions.
  • Which helped me design & re-design many times on my own too. Thank you to every one of you, especially David Westerlund, Jinna Hagerty & Anna Youngs.
  • I used framing questions to focus what I wanted to amplify in my session. That’s how I got to: How might we help organisations be more humane?
  • Remembering Tas’ challenge for me to creatively destroy Spiral Journal, I selected what activities to include.
Prevent burnoutRecover from burnout
Organisations➡ this is the one 😃

Using this matrix helped me state clearly that I wanted to focus on what organisations could do to prevent burnout.

Learn more about the session, including my invitations: Helping organisations be more humane

Key learning

Framing questions, like How might we… strengthen… X over time… amidst chaos. Thank you Tonya and Alex, using these helped me whittle down my ideas into the session I led.

Post-its on a table, which read Discuss preventing / minimising burnout. Dealing with burnout: Get support, do less, reconnect with priorities. A table showing focusing on Preventing + Organising (rather than Resetting or Individuals). How might we address... making organisations more humane? What if we look at this way, how do we do that? Amplify. Maximise. How might be... strength... conditions for thriving in organisations over time? what helps people thrive... How might we build on our experiences of humanity. How might we... valuing... more responsive to human needs... empathic... How might we build over time... nourishing, thriving, supportive
Post-its from redesigning with other Liberating Structures practitioners

Connecting 300 practitioners

I led this session with Zoë Lord, Sharon Dale and David Heath on day 2, to connect participants together.

Key learning

Build in time to re-design together at the last responsible moment.

Virtual connections on days 2 & 3

I gave virtual tours of the Global Gathering to connect with practitioners online. We enjoyed that a lot. We shared ideas about ways of adapting 25/10 Crowdsourcing for remote use.

Key learning

Next time, I want to be part of a team to make a dedicated space for distributed connections, with equipment to make it easy for everyone.

How might we sustainably nurture and grow this community?

I led this session with Tasman Papworth, on day 3, to explore ways of belonging after the gathering. Some of the questions we considered:

  • How can we make being apart bring us together?
  • How do we ensure we follow up on connections made at the event when we return to the rest of our lives?
  • How do we help the network become stronger and grow stronger after the event?
  • How do we explore and experiment ways of continuing to connect?
  • How do we create, build, strengthen, develop and deepen relationships & connections?
  • How do we nurture the community that nurtures us?
  • How do we keep the learning, growth, evolution alive after this event?
  • What’s the min specs to keep this learning alive for us, and for others?

We used Wicked Questions, Spiral Journal meshed with Drawing Together, Social Network Webbing, Min Specs with 1-2-4-all (ish), and 15% Solutions.

Key learning

Loved leading Spiral Drawing, my combo of Spiral Journal and Drawing Together. And it’s possible to do it even faster than Spiral Journal. I did mine in a couple of minutes whilst leading this structure.

Reflecting on the gathering, and specifically considering connections, respond to the following invitations using the language of Drawing Together

  1. Something that surprised me
  2. Something I’m curious about
  3. Something I am hoping for
  4. In my wildest dreams…
4 illustrations around a centre of spirals: 1. Concentric circles, encapsulating star people standing on rectangular blocks, 2. Nested star people, 3. Star person inside circles inside a triangle, 4. A spiral inside a triangle inside a rectangle inside many overlapping circles
Spiral Drawing, top-left, then right, bottom-left, then right: 1. Something that surprised me, 2. Something I’m curious about, 3. Something I am hoping for, 4. In my wildest dreams…

Check out the many things Christiaan Verwijs learned from this event too. Oh, and if you missed my day 1 experiences, you can catch those as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about designing workshops using Liberating Structures, check out Delivering outcomes with distributed teams using Liberating Structures.