Liberating Structures are 33 microstructures that allow you to unleash and involve everyone in a group - from extroverted to introverted and from leaders to followers. In this series of posts, we show how Liberating Structures can be used to spice up your Scrum Events. Move away from the stickies and the whiteboards for a moment, and explore these novel facilitation techniques. If you’d like to experience Liberating Structures first-hand, make sure to join one the ‘immersion workshops’ that are taking place in March 2018.
‘25/10 Crowd Sourcing’ is a structure that allows you to rapidly generate and sift through a group’s boldest actionable ideas in less than 30 minutes. We’ve applied this structure both to small (12-20 members) and large groups (>150). Not only is it an innovative way to identify bold, ‘out of the box’-solutions, it is also appreciated by participants for its highly active nature.
Uses in Scrum and workshops
We’ve used ‘25/10 Crowd Sourcing’ for a number of applications in (and outside) Scrum:
- As a closing exercise for a multi-team Sprint Retrospective, where we use it to identify actionable ideas to solve a previously identified problem;
- As an idea generation exercise for Refinement or Product Development Kick-off, where stakeholders and teams generate potential product features;
- As part of problem-solving workshops, where we use this structure to rapidly generate potential options for solutions;
- As a format for company-wide Retrospectives aimed at identifying problem points (usually with another LS like 1-2-4-ALL) and then finding bold solutions with 25/10 Crowd Sourcing;
Steps to use this Liberating Structure
- Ask the group to stand and clear the room if necessary. This structure requires ample room to move around, unobstructed;
- Provide each participant with a blank index card and a marker or pen;
- Introduce a question that you’d like to gather actionable ideas for, e.g. “What is your boldest solution to [X]”. Ask participants to write down their bold idea and the first step on the front of the index card, and hold up their hand (with the card) when they’re done;
- Mill & Pass: When everyone is done writing their card, ask participants to start walking around and exchanging cards with other people without reading the cards. Let people walk around until you give a signal (after about 20 - 30 seconds);
- Read & Score: Ask people to stop exchanging cards. Check to make sure that everyone has one card in his or her hand, exchanging cards with a neighbor if he or she received their own. Ask participants to rate the idea on their card on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 meaning “not my cup of tea” and 5 meaning “I’m totally in for this”). The score can be written down on the back of the card (leaving room for 4 more scores);
- Proceed with four more rounds of ‘Mill & Pass’ and ‘Read & Score’ until every index card has five scores on the back. To avoid errors, we generally ask people after every round of ‘Read & Score’ to verify that their card has as many scores as completed rounds on the back, and that individual scores range between 1 and 5. Ask participants to sum the score after the fifth round of ‘Read & Score’, resulting in a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25;
- Identify the ideas with the highest scores. You can do this by asking participants to step forward with high scores (counting down from 25), or you can ask people to self-organize into a line from low (5) to high (25). Let people with the highest scoring cards present the idea and first step written on them;
- Ask the group what caught their attention or sparked their interest;
- Use the highest scoring ideas as ideas as input for the next step in the workshop or Scrum Event (see below for ideas);
Stringing together with other Liberating Structures
A key characteristic of Liberating Structures is that they can easily be strung together to create programs for entire workshops or trainings. The options are endless:
- Use the highest scoring ideas as input for 1-2-4-ALL or Open Space Technology to translate actionable ideas into action plans;
- As input for this Liberating Structure, use 15% Solutions to allow participants to generate actionable ideas that are within their freedom and resources first. You can also use 15% Solutions to help people translate the highest scoring ideas into actionable steps they can initiate themselves to make these ideas come to life;
- This Liberating Structure tends to get noisy fast. In order to quickly regain control at the end of a round, use a horn or Tingsha bells. Non-auditory cues also work. We often instruct participants to stop talking and walking when they see us raise our hand, and do the same. This helps bring down the volume quickly, and makes it easier to quell the noise;
- Put the highest scoring cards on a wall that is visible throughout the workshop or training;
- Don’t discard ideas that ranked lower. They can still offer valuable input for future sessions, or when the high-ranked ideas have been implemented;
Give it a try! It really is a wonderful exercise.
We’re always happy to hear your experiences or hear your suggestions. If you’d like to know more about Liberating Structures or experience a large number of them first-hand, sign-up for one of the Liberating Structures ‘immersion workshops’ that are taking place throughout Europe in March 2018. Barry Overeem & Christiaan Verwijs are organizing the workshop in Amsterdam, which will be facilitated by co-inventor Keith McCandless and pioneer Fisher Qua.