Caring for one and all: Helping organisations be more humane

Design for open session on Wed, 13 March 2019, by Kathleen, at Liberating Structures Global Gathering 2019

Notes: Because I had a quieter space than I anticipated (thank you for making that happen Fisher), 1 hour 15 minutes and 8 people, I pivoted: We used Conversation Cafe instead of 1-2-4-all.

Thank you to everyone who supported me in the design and evolution of this session, and related ones. Especially to David Westerlund and Tasman Papworth.

Check out My experience of the Global Gathering on day 1 for more about how the session went. Thank you to all of the participants, you made it what was it was.


  • Instructions at Just read enough to participate fully in what we’re doing in the present moment

Room setup

  • Unlimited number of groups
  • Chairs for people to sit alone, then in pairs face-to-face, then together in quads (groups of four)
  • Index cards for participants to take notes
  • Flip chart paper to record insights, stories, assets, conditions

Invitation: What does it mean for a workplace to support, enable and nourish people? How do you know that is happening?

1-2-4-all, 20 minutes total

Step 1: Alone, 1 minute 👩🏿

Reflect on the invitation. Write notes. You’ll be sharing in pairs next.

Step 2: Pairs, 2 minutes 👩🏿👨🏽

Both share reflections on the invitation. Write notes. You’ll be sharing in quads next.

Step 3: Quads, 4 minutes 👩🏿👨🏽👩🏽👨🏻

All share in your group.

Each group, write down one insight to share with everyone. Be as clear as you can.

When you’re done, move to another group’s station.

Step 3: Quads, 10 minutes 👩🏿👨🏽👩🏽👨🏻

Read what they’ve shared, discuss in your group. Keep moving around the different stations together. You have 10 minutes total to linger, move, read, discuss – as you wish.


Contagious silence to move forward to the next activity. Thank your group.

Flipchart paper with insights to the side. Blank flipchart paper and index cards ready to use by the chairs.

Invitation: Please tell a story about a time when the culture of an organisation supported people to thrive. What is the story and what made the success possible?

Appreciative interviews, 30 minutes total

Step 1: Pairs, 5 minutes each, 10 m total 👩🏾👨🏼

Pair up with someone you haven’t met yet

Listen closely:

  • In the next step, you’ll share the other person’s experience, not your own
  • Ask for context: When, Where, Who, How
  • Collect details: Status quo, barriers, action, surprises, reversals, discoveries

Step 2: Quads, 15 minutes 👩🏾👨🏼👩🏻👨🏿

  • Form a group with another pair you haven’t met yet
  • Each person retell the story of your pair partner, make sure everyone gets a turn
  • Listen for patterns in conditions & assets supporting success
  • Write down patterns of what supported success on flipchart. Be clear. Be concise.

Step 3: Alone or together, 5 minutes 📝

Wander around the different stations at your own pace, alone or together. Make notes for yourself, if you like, of insights and patterns.

Invitation: What change will you make to help organisations be more humane?

15% Solutions, 10 minutes total

Alone, 10 minutes 👩🏽

Feel free to continue moving around or stay still

Ask yourself: What can you do without more time, money or permission? Where do you have discretion and freedom to act? What can you do without more resources or authority?

Write down, on an index card:

  • One thing you have learned
  • One thing you will do differently now (something that’s within your control)

Please take a picture of you with your index card and tweet @gobrightly. You can take a picture of just your index card instead. Let me know if you’d like me to share your photo and/or contact details with other participants. No pressure 😊

Selfie of Kathleen, smiling, holding an index card which reads, "One thing I learned... One thing I'll do differently now..." and their name, "Kathleen Bright", and email address and twitter handle "gobrightly"


Contagious silence

If you see someone with their hand raised: Raise your hand too, pause your conversation and look around for who’s asking for your attention (probably Kathleen). Thank you

Self-organised timeliness

Pay attention to timings, and support each other to be timely, you might like to use timers on your watch or phone