VLSUG Survey: Results Summary

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Hello and Happy New Year!

Last fall we posted a summary of the activities, we have conducted as facilitators of the Vancouver Liberating Structures User Group over the past three years. With that context in mind, we wanted user group members and LS practitioners to help us with ideas on next steps and how we can help everyone to more forward in their practice. 12 people responded to our survey. The summary of responses is as follows:

  • Majority identified themselves as from the post-secondary sector with some as independent consultants and from health care.
  • Most respondents noted that they were ready to “boldly fall forward and add more, new, lesser used structures to my repertoire”
  • Majority of respondents were most wanting to meet and practice with a few willing to co-facilitate. As well, four individuals offered their workplace as potential venues for a meetup.
  • The preferred times were quarterly meetings, occurring during the week from Monday-Friday  5 pm -7pm, or online.
  • There was marked interest in meeting online and in finding out local success stories, sharing case studies, and connecting and receiving support from fellow practitioners.

Based on this feedback, we plan to offer one online meetup and one face-to-face meetup for Spring 2020.

Additionally, we would like to invite users to come forward if they wish to join in on or organize informal café meetups to talk about Liberating Structures. Let us know and we’ll assist in connecting folks who want to do this!

Best Wishes,

Leva Lee and Barish Golland





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Fall 2019 Survey Results

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Fall 2019 Survey Results

In joining the Vancouver LS User Group I would gain (12 responses)

  • LS blog
  • Sharing what I have been doing in Brazil and Canada within Immersions and Work with groups and communities.
  • Same as above
  • Sharing my experiences with using LS
  • Run a community of practice session.
  • My experience using LS, thought-partnership on putting LS into practice, and coaching people towards their goals
  • My experience as an instructional designer.
  • Share ways I’ve used??
  • energy, enthusiasm, questions, and facilitation (as desirable)
  • …my experience using LS F2F and online, other facilitation prowess, supporting others in their LS journey.
  • positive energy, a willingness to try and reflect
  • support, feedback and ideas

How might we learn together? (8 responses)

  • Online Synchronously, Online Asynchronously, Face-to-Face in a BC Regional Gathering (why not?..;)
  • Practice online + quarterly get togethers
  • Discuss things we’re working on, e.g. questions about what LS would fit the situation, or debrief a situation that didn’t work as well as hoped
  • Hold regular zoom calls -using LS virtually / come together as community of practice
  • Get people in a room, and learn from each others’ stories, experiences and challenges. Could be structured as Troika, Fishbowl, Improv Prototyping, or Wise Crowds for example.
  • This is hard…I was one of the people who didn’t make it to any of the after work sessions. I couldn’t muster up the energy to extend my work day further when I also wanted time with family and rest.
  • newsletter to feature success stories?
  • Brainstorming, practice and feedback

Please suggest a few possible venue/location for face-to-face LS user group meetups that would be conducive to participation for people living/working in various parts of the Lower Mainland. (If it is your workplace please note that below.) (6 responses)

  • CapU (my workplace)
  • BC Children’s/BC Women’s (my workplace)
  • Library rooms across Vancouver, Adler university
  • Set up an evening event or two as “probes” (ref. Cynefin framework)
  • Doing something locally (UBC) is most convenient or as part of an existing event (ie FoL)

Is there anything else you like us to know to help in our planning of next steps for the Vancouver LS User Group? (6 responses)

  • The last email update was awesome, with a clear retrospective of the Whats! Thanks!
  • no
  • How can we link the interest in inclusion, diversity, community/stakeholder engagement, organizational culture, change, and learning and development to LS? That would open up the audience/application space.
  • I sincerely appreciate all the work you’ve done and feel crummy about not participating.
  • I was introduced to LS through the BCODN’s Sunday Cafes and I was thoroughly intrigued. However, I did not know the extent of the work you’ve done or that there were other opportunities available to meet up/practice.
  • Do you conduct virtual meetings?



Liberating Structures Events in December 2019

Session: Long Term Strategy is Dead (?!) – Adapting Planning to a Complex World!

Date: December 7, 2019

Facilitator: Catarina Moreno

Time: 10am-2pm, coffee courtesy of Vantage Point but please bring your own lunch

Location: Vantage Point Training Room, 1183 Melville St, Vancouver, BC V6E 0A3

Cost: This is a free event.

Registration: The participant cap is 15 to allow for group work, the spots will be given on a first come first serve basis. Please reserve your spot or ask further questions by emailing cmlists123@gmail.com.

Description: Let’s explore and share a community or practice learning session on the emerging practice of Strategic Knotworking. Knotworking is both a set of Liberating Structures “strung” together to support strategic planning, and it provides a set of principles and opens a new way to work in complex contexts. It helps us to understand why we feel comfortable or uncomfortable with situations or decisions. As a basis for working agreements, it supports day to day decision making and as a practice it establishes a deeper understanding of the Liberating Structure, Ecocycle. We plan to work on a real project. If you have a project you would like to offer to the workshop let Catarina know. Participants are expected to have a basic knowledge and practice of Liberating Structures. There might be an informal social gathering after the session if there is interest and energy. This is not a training but rather a peer-learning session structured around experience, debrief, connections and deconstruction.

About the community of practice host of the dayCatarina has 15+ years of experience in managing people, programs and projects and is passionate about finding better ways to work together. She believes in the power of collaboration and capacity-building and is specifically interested in organizational culture and the opportunities inherent in change.


Session: How to Facilitate Structured Engagement to Unleash Everyone

Date: December 10th, 2019

Facilitator:  Barish Golland & Zsuzsi Fodor

Time: 2:45pm-4pm

Location: UBC, Irving K Barber Learning Centre, Chilcotin Room 256

Cost: Free

Registration: Required at https://events.ctlt.ubc.ca/events/how-to-facilitate-structured-engagement-to-unleash-everyone/

Description: Often in PowerPoint driven meetings, lessons, lectures and gatherings, there comes a point when eyes glaze over, heads turn down to phones/laptops, and disengagement starts to creep in. Have you ever experienced that, or been one of those attendees bored to tears by constant sitting and passive listening?

In this workshop we’ll explore the amazing facilitation world of Liberating Structures, “a collection of simple, inclusive and fun interaction templates designed to facilitate generative engagement”. You’ll engage hands-on facilitation activities designed to be easily replicated in your context whether you run big lectures, small seminars/tutorials, staff meetings, community events, and so on!

Prepare to move around, get out of your comfort zone and be fully present!   


W3 for Me, for You and for our LS user group

Dear Vancouver Liberating Structures User Group members and friends,

As co-leads of of this user group, Barish and I  have decided to take pause in our meetups and report out what we’ve been doing to date and to touch base with you all to see where you want to focus energies for the coming year.

Here is an overview what we have been doing since the start of the Vancouver LS user group approximately 2 1/2 years ago:

Year 1 (Spring 2017)

  • Adopting the format used by the Seattle LS user group, we met with a group of 10 participants and crafted our vision and mission using Purpose to Practice

    Our first meetup at BCIT Downtown campus
  • We started a LinkedIn Group which grew to 30 members. (We currently have 60 members.)
  • We hosted monthly meetups at BCIT (downtown) from 6-7:30 pm
  • Meetups initially were well attended but then participation dwindled; We reported our meetings in a post for May and for the Fall
  • A few things we gleaned from Year 1 is how difficult it is for people to attend the downtown venue; evenings make for a very long day and for those with family obligations, it was too challenging
  • We experimented with LS Online and hosted a LS meetup using Zoom

Year 2 & Year 3 (2018 – to date)

  • The LinkedIn Group alone was not meeting our needs so we created this WordPress blog site which was setup with push notifications to subscribers of the blog, to our twitter account and FaceBook followers. We currently have 98 subscribers to this WordPress blog and 117 Twitter followers. (We also kept the LinkedIn group though it is not our primary communication tool.)
  • To grow our base of LS practitioners, we decided to focus on the post-secondary sector (as this sector is related to our work) and changed our approach, forming a “travelling” meetup (our “LS Caravan”)
  • LS meetups and primer sessions were hosted at the following post-sec institutions in the Lower mainland: BCIT (Burnaby), UBC (Sauder), Vancouver Community College, Douglas College, Langara College, Simon Fraser University (Surrey), Capilano University, Justice Institute of BC.

    Meetup at JIBC


    Meetup at Capilano University
  • In May 2018, the Vancouver and Victoria user groups hosted a meetup at the Festival of Learning.
  • In March 2019, Barish and I attended the LS Global Meetup in Seattle where we met amazing practitioners from all over the globe. Tracy Roberts (co-lead of the Victoria LS User Group), Seattle LS practitioner Neil McCarthy and I co-facilitated a session.

    At the LS Global Gathering, artist and participant, Lotus, captured our session in this lovely painting where we cited a poem by  Paul Overton.
  • We provided LS sessions on invitation to the BC Children’s Hospital/Women’s Hospital (affiliated with UBC Dept. of Pathology) and the BC Organizational Development Network (BCODN).
  • Barish and Zsuszi Fodor also conducted a LS session in partnership with UBC’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology.
  • We continued experimentation of LS online together with the Victoria LS User group and hosted a session using Zoom (May 2019).
  • I co-facilitated LS using online asynchronous methods (Moodle Course) as part of the Facilitating Learning Online MicroCourse “Designing with LS” (June 2019) with Beth Cougler Blom, co-facilitator of the Victoria LS User group. Barish and I have participated in meetings of the LS CoP Leaders, a group led by Keith McCandless, as well as, continued to raise awareness of LS via the LS Slack group (coordinated by Fisher Qua and Nancy White)  and the Liberating News

Reading and research:

Having worked the last few years on awareness, the initial spread of Liberating Structures, and building local capacity of LS practitioners, our”What”, we are reaching out to ask you …”So What” and “Now What”? The big “W3” and what would be most meaningful and helpful to you in your practice, whatever stage that may be.

We invite you to give us feedback in our user group survey by the end of October.  We will  share the results with you in a future post and/or discuss at a future meetup. Thank you.

All the Best,

Leva Lee

With Barish Golland

Co-leads of the Vancouver Liberating Structures User Group

*Acknowledgements to members Catarina Moreno and Charles Lee for their help with the survey.


Liberating Structures Meetup at the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre

We are pleased to offer a Liberating Structures mini-workshop and practice session at the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre on June 4th. Everyone is welcome! Here are the details:

MeetingLiberating Structures: Patterns of Engagement to Include Everyone

Facilitators: Jocelyn Srigley, Medical Microbiologist, BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre; Barish Golland, Training Lead, Organizational Change Management, Integrated Renewal Program, UBC; Leva Lee, Manager Learning + Teaching, BCcampus

Date: Wednesday, June 4, 2019
Time: 8:30 am-10:00 am
Location: Shaughnessy Auditorium, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, B wing, 4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC

Use Entrance 77 as indicated on this map:


For Newcomers: Learn about and experience Liberating Structures as a way of engaging colleagues, employees and team members and students in productive, purposeful, inclusive ways.

For All: Meet local Liberating Structures practitioners and discover Liberating Structures resources, including the Vancouver LS user group members that meets regularly.

What are Liberating Structures?

Liberating Structures (LS) are a growing collection of group processes and methods that make it easy and quick for members of any group to radically change how they interact and work together. Their purpose is to liberate energy, tap into collective intelligence, stimulate creativity, and get surprisingly better results by engaging people and unleashing the power of self-organization.” – Quoted from: Kimball, Lisa. (2009). Liberating Structures: A New Pattern language for Engagement. Available at: https://thesystemsthinker.com/liberating-structures-a-new-pattern-language-for-engagement



UBC Workshop on Liberating Structures – May 24 1pm at UBC IKB

On Friday May 24th from 1:00pm to 2:30pm UBC is hosting a introductory workshop on Liberating Structures as part its CTLT Institute.

The workshop will be facilitated by Barish Golland, Training Lead for UBC Integrated Renewal Program, and Zsuzsi Fodor, Engagement Strategist for UBC Community Engagement. UBC staff and faculty are welcome to sign up at the link below. If you do not have a UBC CWL, there are instructions on the link below to set up a Basic CWL to register:

Using Liberating Structures to Engage and Unleash Everyone

 Event Date & Time

  • May 24, 2019
    1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Event Description

Pillar: Transformative Learning

Conventional structures such as presentations, lectures, status reports and managed discussions tend to be over-controlling and stifle inclusion and engagement.

Liberating Structures are a series of group processes designed to engage and include everyone in productively moving forward in a variety of contexts, whether it’s the meeting room or the classroom. In this workshop, you will get an introduction to what Liberating Structures are and experience a variety of these facilitation techniques specifically relevant to the Higher Education context. Activities in the classroom context will include quick and easy ways to engage students throughout a lecture, as well as longer student group work activities for facilitating more critical thinking and deeper discussion.


Barish Golland, Training Lead, Organizational Change Management, UBC Integrated Renewal Program

Zsuzsi Fodor, Engagement Strategist, UBC Community Engagement


Liberating Structures User Groups Meet Online

This post originally published May 9th on BCcampus.ca

Recently, the Liberating Structures (LS) user groups from Vancouver and Victoria B.C. got together ONLINE for the first time to experiment with LS online. As always, I love co-facilitating with my Victoria LS User Group partner, Beth Cougler Blom, and higher ed colleagues and Vancouver LS User group stewards Leva Lee and Barish Golland.

Post by Tracy Roberts, Senior Manager, Learning and Teaching

Liberating Structures

Our plan (see here for plan/details about HOW we did stuff, and here for slides) was to do Impromptu NetworkingTroikaUser Experience Fishbowl, and a bit of a share out from those of us who went to the LS Global Gathering in March. In 90 min, we ran out of time to do all, so we cut User Experience Fishbowl.

A few quick observations/takeaways:

  • …Sigh…audio in particular, but technology generally continues to vex the online session. Having worked for 20 years in a field that does a LOT of online meetings, it annoys me that web conferencing technology still doesn’t just actually work. So yes, we still have to plan for it NOT to work: get people to show up early, create space to test audio, video, and drawing tools so people are ready to engage, have multiple facilitators to support all this.
  • Have the invitation/discussion prompts visible at all times (slides, chat room, wherever works for the tool you are using).
  • With Troika, we experimented with offering more/less structure and our participants preferred more, i.e., time each step using the timer tool + add text prompts to the timer to tell them what step they are on (vs. just giving them the full 8 minutes and adding a text chat to all telling them what step they should be on).
  • Online CAN be better than f2f – e.g., you can quickly and completely control the return of small groups back to the main group! Online, it’s a click of a button and a few seconds and everyone is BACK, regardless if they were in the middle of a sentence. Not always so in-person!
  • More is more. You need a facilitator, and 1-2 others to manage the technology (set timers, create breakout rooms, move people in and out of breakout rooms, monitor the chat, pop in and out of breakout rooms and generally troubleshoot on the fly). It’s important to be fast and available because with LS in play online, things are moving and, online, I think our patience can be thinner because it’s easier to feel MORE lost and frustrated than in a physical room where there are many more cues to help figure things out.

Learn more:

Join us for an upcoming Liberating Structures Workshop to discover how you can bring these effective strategies to the sessions you lead.

Events, Virtual LS

Vancouver and Victoria Liberating Structures Meetup – Let’s Try it Online!

We are partnering with the Victoria Liberating Structures User Group to try some LS Online!  This is happening tomorrow April 9th from 12 noon – 1:30 pm Pacific DST.  Come with an open mind and readiness to play as we are in full experimentation mode. All are welcome.

The space we will be meeting in is a Collaborate Ultra Room provided by Royal Roads University. Thank you to them for the support.  Here’s the Link: https://ca.bbcollab.com/guest/851b4f6d4e144970bc6d35cf9ea8d2e5.

For more information on the online meetup check out the Victoria User Group Facebook page.

See you tomorrow!