Group Facilitation Training | Liberating Structures method

Actions Panel

Group Facilitation Training | Liberating Structures method

Learn a powerful set of facilitation techniques in a fun, hands-on training. For facilitators, educators, leaders, managers, etc. In DC.

When and where

Date and time


Cobec Consulting office at L'Enfant Plaza 500 L'Enfant Plaza Southwest #ste 1100 Washington, DC 20024

Map and directions

How to get there

Refund Policy

Contact the organizer to request a refund.
Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

About this event

🚀 Overview

This is a fun, hands-on 2-day bootcamp-style training to quickly develop group facilitation skills. It uses the easy and powerful techniques from the Liberating Structures methodology. You'll be able to put these facilitation skills to work immediately in a wide variety of contexts, be it small team meetings, community convenings, or large-scale events.

Liberating Structures is a very easy-to-use set of modern facilitation techniques designed around collaboration, equity, and engagement. The inclusive nature of the method breaks down typical organizational constraints to spur true innovation. In addition, the techniques are easy to adapt to your own needs, so you can apply them to any situation where people need to work together. This method is used by professional facilitators, as well as in big tech companies (often in concert with Agile), grassroots organizations, and institutions like the World Bank. The LS facilitation method is used throughout the US and Canada, but it is also widespread in Europe, Japan, and Australia.

Liberating Structures training are known as "immersions." They are experiential and interactive, not lecture-based.

🎯 Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Understand the basic tenets and philosophical approach of Liberating Structures as a group facilitation method.
  2. Experience, learn, and be confident using more than a dozen powerful Liberating Structures techniques for group facilitation.
  3. Be able to apply and combine Liberating Structures techniques to facilitate real-world scenarios (e.g., mission/vision creation, strategic planning, problem solving, product development/innovation, future forecasting, update meetings, presentations and trainings, action planning, etc.).
  4. Be prepared to teach others the basics of how to facilitate using Liberating Structures.
  5. Meet and actively engage with a dynamic group of fellow participants.
  6. Enjoy your time and be energized by the people and the learning process.

^ Curious what an Liberating Structures "Immersion" training is like? Here's a quick video recap from a training done by the LS community in Amsterdam.

Group Facilitation Training | Liberating Structures method image

📝 Facilitation techniques we'll plan to cover:

We will cover a lot of the 33 activities that comprise Liberating Structures. And you'll walk away with a solid, use-it-tomorrow understanding of LS -- without feeling overwhelmed or that you've just gotten a glancing interaction with the techniques. We will, however, not cover all of the LS structures. Although this list may change, we expect to cover most of the following:

  • The Liberating Structures "Menu" and the background and foundations of LS
  • Design Elements, Strings, Riffs – How LS activities are combined and adapted for maximum effect
  • Impromptu Networking - Rapidly Share Challenges and Expectations, Build New Connections
  • 1-2-4-All - Engage Everyone Simultaneously in Generating Questions, Ideas, and Suggestions
  • 9 Whys - Make the Purpose of Your Work Together Clear
  • Troika (and Wise Crowds) - Get Practical and Imaginative Help from Colleagues Immediately
  • 25/10 - Rapidly Generate and Sift a Group’s Most Powerful Actionable Ideas
  • Celebrity Interview - Reconnect the Experience of Leaders and Experts with People Closest to the Challenge at Hand
  • Ecocycle Planning - Analyze the Full Portfolio of Activities and Relationships to Identify Obstacles and Opportunities for Progress
  • TRIZ - Stop Counterproductive Activities and Behaviors to Make Space for Innovation
  • Drawing Together - Reveal Insights and Paths Forward Through Nonverbal Expression
  • 15% Solutions - Discover and Focus on What Each Person Has the Freedom and Resources to Do Now
  • User Experience Fishbowl - Share Know-How Gained from Experience with a Larger Community
  • Wicked Questions - Articulate the Paradoxical Challenges That a Group Must Confront to Succeed
  • Critical Uncertainties - Develop Strategies for Operating in a Range of Plausible Yet Unpredictable Futures
  • Tiny Demons - (LS under development) Face Fears to Reduce Anxiety
  • Generative Relationships STAR - Reveal Relationship Patterns That Create Surprising Value or Dysfunctions
  • Min Specs - Specify Only the Absolute “Must dos” and “Must not dos” for Achieving a Purpose
  • What, So What, Now What - Together, Look Back on Progress to Date and Decide What Adjustments Are Needed
Group Facilitation Training | Liberating Structures method image

📌 Location

This training will be held in downtown Washington, DC. We're being hosted by Cobec Consulting in their beautiful office in L'Enfant Plaza, overlooking the city.

Unless there is a significant change in public health restrictions, this training will be done in-person. For this session, there is not an online option.

Group Facilitation Training | Liberating Structures method image

📅 Dates

Offered in-person in DC, the program is two full days of professional training and active learning:

  • Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 9:00am-5:00pm ET
  • Friday, October 21, 2022 | 9:00am-4:30pm ET

Additionally, you can attend two, free bonus training sessions, offered online after the in-person bootcamp. These will allow you to debrief, share your experiences, ask follow-up questions, and fine-tune your skills after applying them in the field. These sessions will also cover tips and tricks to adapt in-person skills to online groups. And these extra sessions allow you to reconnect with your training peers.

  • Follow-up Session #1 - Check-in, Porting LS Skills to Online Groups, and Q&A: approximately 2 weeks after the training (to be decided by the group)
  • Follow-up Session #2 - Case Study Debrief (Wise Crowds) and Adding Structures & Strings: approximately 6 weeks after the training (to be decided by the group)

If you're interested in attending a training in the future, please sign up here.

🏷️ Registration

There are three pricing options which you'll see on the registration page if you click the "tickets" button above. Offering two days of professional training requires a significant amount of time and effort and is not without cost. Thus, the fee covers space rental, the time to prepare and deliver the training, materials, drinks, snacks, etc.

Tickets are limited.

  • Standard
  • Discounted
  • Pay What You Can

It is our hope that these tiers are a fair way to allow for an exciting and diverse mix of attendees.

We will provide snacks and drinks, but lunch will be on-your-own. There is a food court in the building with a variety of restaurants.

The "33" in the registration fees underscores that Liberating Structures is comprised of 33 interchangeable microstructures.

If you have a large team that plans to register, please contact us. It may make sense to do a separate training for your team, allowing for a more convenient time and place as well as an agenda more tailored to your organization, work, and needs. Because public trainings are not done frequently, it's our hope that a diversity of participants from different organizations will be able to attend, learn from each other, and spread these helpful techniques to their colleagues.

Group Facilitation Training | Liberating Structures method image

Liberating Structures trainer

Lee Gimpel is an expert on collaborative facilitation and meeting design. He runs the Washington, DC Community of Practice for Liberating Structures and is the founder of Better Meetings, a meeting facilitation, training and design firm in Washington, DC.

Building on a foundation of Liberating Structures techniques, he works with in-person, online, and hybrid meetings, conferences, retreats, and networking events. His work blends group facilitation, audience engagement, and human-centered design. As the leader of the Liberating Structures community in DC, he has provided dozens of trainings on LS techniques and also organized the 2020 and 2021 Liberating Structures East Coast Night intensives. In addition, he is the creator of the Conference Organizers Summit, an industry convening for event professionals. Professionally, he’s worked with clients such as the US Department of Energy, the National Association of Realtors, and American Federation of Teachers. Before starting his own company, he was Director of Development for LifeWise Strategies where he led trainings and gamified tool-development for a wide variety of organizations. He's a frequent speaker and has presented for groups like the Reston-Herndon Meeting Planners and the Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network. As an industry expert, he is widely quoted in the media on meetings and conferences, including in USA Today, HuffPost, Convene, Prevue Meetings & Incentives, Tradeshow News Network, and MeetingsNet. He writes a regular column for Forbes where he is the contributing expert on meetings and facilitation.

✅ Who should attend?

  • You should be working with groups in some capacity. That can be 5 or 50 or 500 people.
  • This training is suitable for those who are beginner-to-intermediate facilitators. If you are new to a role where you're leading groups or running meetings, you'll be fine.
  • It's also appropriate for experienced facilitators who are specifically looking to add a comprehensive understanding of the powerful Liberating Structures techniques, including some that are less frequently used and known.

It's important to clarify that one need not have a "facilitator" job title to attend and get value from this training. Indeed, running groups and meetings applies to those who are managers, executives, directors, conference organizers, consultants, board trustees, teachers, trainers, and community leaders.

🔴 Who should not attend?

  • If you're not involved with groups and meetings, this training won't be very applicable. This is also true if you just do one-on-one work and individual coaching.
  • If you're looking for a training in the vein of "How can I get a group to do what I want?" then Liberating Structures isn't a good fit. Similarly if you're only looking for ways to moderate contentious discussions or want tips to be a better public speaker yourself, this isn't the right training.
  • This isn't for those looking for really extensive facilitation training or certification. This will be a very effective and applicable 2-day training, but it's obviously not the same as a months-long graduate program.
  • If you're already very familiar with LS, then you may be beyond this training; we'll obviously be going over structures you know and use such as 1-2-4-All. (That said, you're welcome to attend and you will likely see and experience some new techniques and refresh what you already know while connecting with other passionate facilitators in a constructive learning environment.)

⚖️ How does Liberating Structures compare to other facilitation approaches?

Liberating Structures consists of 33 "microstructures." These are bite-size, plug-and-play facilitation activities that you can combine in innumerable ways. Thus, with Liberating Structures, you learn about puzzle pieces rather than having to learn large, complex facilitation processes. (In LS terminology, it's called building a "string" when you connect various smaller activities to make a larger one.) For this reason, Liberating Structures is very easy and approachable for new facilitators, but it can also provide practical, sophisticated frameworks for those accustomed to working with groups.

Philosophically, Liberating Structures is very much about creativity, collaboration, and group interaction; it is not a command-and-control, top-down style. In spirit, Liberating Structures shares some foundational aspects with group facilitation approaches like Open Space, Art of Hosting, and World Café. It’s also an “open source” methodology rather than a proprietary one for which one must pay a licensing or formal certification fee. For organizations looking to be more open, collaborative, and equitable, introducing LS can be a practical starting point for culture change.

Learning to facilitate using Liberating Structures techniques is more about understanding how groups work rather than simply writing out a bulleted agenda for a group to get through. For example, LS uses a lot of tactics that break big, ponderous groups into smaller, more nimble ones before those subgroups come back together again. LS tends to bring a group to consensus and agreement more organically rather than reverting to divisive win/lose voting processes.

Because of its flexible, modular approach, it's hard to think of group facilitation scenarios where LS isn't a fit. That said, LS isn't usually used in one-on-one meetings, nor is it a formal mediation process. Some facilitation approaches have very formulaic steps to, for example, run a strategic planning workshop; instead, LS doesn’t have one right answer and gives you a number of options by combining different elements.

Generally what facilitators like about LS is that is easy to learn, understand, and use. It’s often energizing and fun. And because of its collaborative approach, it takes a lot of the burden of leading a group off the shoulders of the facilitator. It's also a mature methodology with many practitioners so you'll be part of a passionate fraternity of fellow LS practitioners. And it’s well suited for train-the-trainer scenarios if you want to introduce it within your organization.

For participants, LS is a welcome breath of fresh air because it actively involves them; it's not the boss just running a meeting where people are passive observers. With LS, people participate more, they remark on the genuine connection among their groups, and they find breakthrough solutions.

✉️ Express interest

Interested but this training isn't convenient for you? Here are options to stay informed about future offerings like this.

  1. Fill out the "I'm interested" form here and also help us understand what you're looking for
  2. Also, click on the little [Follow] text link at the very top of this page by the event title to be reminded when new trainings are posted. ↑↑↑
  3. Send an email with specific questions.

📚 CEU credit

Although we can't guarantee continuing education credits for this training (and for the diversity of different organizations and credentials where it may apply), we are open to applying for CEUs. Contact us if you have questions or if you have connections to partner in offering CEUs.

🦠 Covid considerations

This training is scheduled to be in-person. We are not planning for an online component. Participants must be vaccinated against Covid (and should be prepared to present proof of vaccination) and must also adhere to local health regulations at the time (e.g., masking if required) or the safety guidelines of the organizer or venue. Participants should understand the risks inherent with in-person meetings today.

If you are positive for Covid or have symptoms before or during the sessions, we ask that you not attend. We will refund your registration fee (minus Eventbrite fees) if you must stay home.

In case local health concerns in the DC area prohibit the training, we will consult with registrants about offering the instruction online or at a future date in person.

However, we remain optimistic that the event will happen as scheduled, in person, under normal training conditions.

📷 Photos and recordings

Be aware that we may be taking photos, videos, or other recordings that may later be made available publicly such as to promote future trainings. By attending, you understand this and agree that you may be shown in these recordings.

💬 Frequently Asked Questions

Will the training be relevant for the kind of work I do?

LS is great for both new and experienced facilitators. It's used very much independent of specific fields or industries; it's used in groups of 5 and 500. However, if you only work one-on-one or you're in a very rigidly top-down organization unwilling to change, then LS won't be a good fit for you. Although it was designed for in-person groups, it adapts very well to remote teams. If you have questions about the fit, contact us.

What should I bring?

You'll want to bring a notebook and a pen. (Banish the image you might have of a static training where you sit at a table all day with a laptop.) You may also wish to bring a bag for your stuff because we'll be moving seats and changing groups frequently. Also, bringing a water bottle is a good way to help us make the event more sustainable.
And, of course, bring a positive attitude!

What should I wear?

There's no set dress code, but an LS training is fun and relaxed, not a stuffy suit-and-tie affair. Generally think of business casual. If you want to wear jeans, that's fine. Also, as is always a best practice with training venues, bring an extra layer in case the room is cold.

What if I don't know anyone else who's attending?

No worries! That will likely be the case for many of the other participants in this public event. The underlying ethos of LS is about inclusion and participation -- and the format of the training encourages small group interactions . You'll definitely meet lots of new people, some of whom may very well become great friends and colleagues.

Will there be food and drinks?

We'll provide snacks and drinks, but not full-on meals. Lunch is on-your-own and we expect that will be an opportunity for small groups to meet and socialize outside the confines of the training room. There is a food court within the building and a number of restaurants and food trucks nearby. So while we aren't ordering food for everyone, if you have dietary concerns regarding snacks, let us know in the registration form.

How many people will be in the training group?

We anticipate it to be a few dozen, but probably not more than 40.

Can I only attend one of the days?

No, this is a two-day training where the activities are designed to logically build on each other.

I'm coming in from out of town. Can I connect with others in the same position?

Great -- we'd be happy to have you in DC! We expect to make an online discussion space available to the group before the event. Here you can ask about carpooling, sharing lodging, etc.

Can my organization do an internal training just for our own staff at a separate date?

Yes, there are a number of options here, but an internal training can be customized to the organization's specific needs and also tends to be a team-building activity because of the degree of interaction in the session. Internal trainings tend to be for groups of 10-50 people. For more information, contact us.

If I can't attend this posted event, can I attend a future training?

If you're interested in attending a future training on facilitation skills, fill out the "I'm interested" form here. Or you can contact us.
Group Facilitation Training | Liberating Structures method image