Art by Thea Schukken

The Dutch Liberating Structures User Group: Our Purpose-To-Practice

As you may have already discovered, we are massive fans of what Liberating Structures make possible with groups. Following the amazing examples from other countries, we decided to start a User Group in the Netherlands. This turned out to be quite a fruitful idea as the group has exploded to 400 members within only a couple of months. In other words, a good time to clarify our shared purpose during our 4th meetup.

The 16 people who worked on the first version of the Purpose to Practice. You can see that the ‘joyful’ part of the purpose is already being fulfilled :)

Obviously we used a Liberating Structure to structure this process — ‘Purpose to Practice’ — to clarify that purpose (with Nine Whys). From there, we identified principles (with Min Specs), participants, structural elements and practices (all three with Shift & Share) needed to achieve that purpose. By its very nature, this is a cyclical process. So consider this the first version of our ongoing attempt to define and refine it together. In this post, I will summarize the output that we generated with 16 participants.

Our purpose

The Dutch Liberating Structures User Group exists to grow a community of people that use Liberating Structures by providing them with a place for joyful experimentation, personal connection and giving and getting help. By doing so we contribute to the purpose of Liberating Structures: to un-flatten conversation between people and to unleash and involve the intelligence, wisdom and creativity of groups.

We exist to grow a community of people that use Liberating Structures by providing them with a place for joyful experimentation, personal connection and giving and getting help.

Our principles

In order to successfully achieve our purpose as a User Group, we identified the following guiding principles:

  • We create a safe space for experimentation by showing respect for others, building trust and emphasizing that failure is okay;
  • We use this group for identifying what we want to practice outside of this group, by giving and getting help on how to do this, and for bringing back what we learned by doing so;
  • We want to be open to both very experienced users as well as people without any prior knowledge / experience;
  • We will provide everyone with the opportunity to experiment with the facilitation of Liberating Structures;
What our Purpose to Practice looked like

Our participants

We can’t achieve our purpose by working on our own. Primarily, these are the participants that contribute to achieving our purpose:

  • People who work with groups and would like to explore how to better engage their creativity and wisdom (like teachers, team coaches, scrum masters, change agents);
  • Professional facilitators;
  • People that are curious about Liberating Structures;
  • Organizations that are willing to host our meetups and offer challenges or cases to explore;

We also identified a number of other participants that we’d like to involve:

  • The founders of Liberating Structures, Keith McCandless, Henri Lipmanowicz and pioneers like Fisher Qua, Nancy White and Anna Jackson;
  • The world-wide community of LS practitioners and the various User Groups around the world;
  • People who aren’t overly fond of working in groups or flat-out dislike Liberating Structures so that we can learn how to better engage and unleash them;
Mapping the participants, the structure and our practices for the P2P with Shift & Share

Our structure

  • We will actively seek out collaboration and connection with other User Groups of Liberating Structures;
  • We will announce and plan upcoming events on;
  • We will collaborate on Slack, using a channel within the Slack for Liberating Structures;
  • We will share the outcomes of our events, either through blogs (like this one), videos or other recordings;

Our practices

  • Every meetup will be facilitated by a different Design Team to maximize the opportunity for everyone to facilitate Liberating Structures in a safe environment;
  • We will debrief each Liberating Structure to maximize the learning for everyone involved, regardless of their experience with Liberating Structures;
  • We will mix thematic, prepared meetups with meetups that are Open Spaces. This allows us to either dive deep into a particular topic on the one hand while also allowing people to bring in personal challenges and get help or to simply work together on something they care about;
  • We will periodically refine and refresh our Purpose to Practice, making sure it remains bold, relevant and appealing;
  • We will try Liberating Structures that are in development wherever possible and report feedback back to the LS-community;

Join our User Group?

If you’re as excited about Liberating Structures as we are, and you live in the Netherlands, feel free to join our User Group. Together with 400 members, we can work to spread Liberating Structures and make a bigger impact on how interaction takes place in organizations!