Better Workshops with Liberating Structures

Better Workshops with Liberating Structures

How do you manage to get everyone involved with a group discussion, when you’re fighting against the HiPPO (High Paid Person’s Opinion) in the room, or when people aren’t comfortable raising their own ideas? Navigating the logistics of how to have a group discussion can be a tedious affair in of itself but once you throw domineering personalities and overbearing opinions into the mix, things tend to get a little messy. 

At this month's NUX workshop, Mia Peters, Service Design Manager for London Borough of Southwark, guided the group though one of the 33 methods which aims to improve engagement and results from meetings. 

Typically, at NUX meetups (and UX workshops in general) people stick to their comfort groups of people they already know through work or other connections without much branching out into the wider room. Mia’s talk disrupted that wonderfully. Utilising the 1-2-4-All everyone became involved in a large-scale group discussion about the expected outcomes of an NUX meetup. However, it’s not as scary as it sounds.

The 1-2-4-All method is broken down into four simple steps and can be applied to any UX workshop in principle. 

- 1 minute of self-reflection  

- 2 minutes of conversation in a pair 

- 4 minutes discussing with another pair  

Finally, each group of 4 relays their idea, or ideas to the whole group. 

Starting with the minute of self-reflection gives you ownership of your thoughts, letting you build confidence in yourself so you can feel more comfortable sharing this with your partner in Step 2 where you build upon each other's ideas, before taking your shared thoughts into the group of pairs highlighting any similarities, and differences. Sticky notes, and dot-voting could come in handy here!

After the four-person group discussion, it’s time to share the one important idea which stood out with the whole room. Thankfully, the 1-2-4-All method means you have had influence on this outcome even if it is not the same as your initial thought, additionally because you started the discussion in a pair, then as a four you will hopefully have more confidence in raising your group thoughts with the room. The safety the method provides is key to getting everyone involved so that the final outcome has something from everyone. UX Workshops (or otherwise) are all about team effort, no matter how small the contribution.  

In a nut shell, the 1-2-4-All method could be a valuable tool in any facilitators meeting toolbox to help increase group contribution from all levels of seniority in a business especially with its quick setup and strong outcome. 


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