Liberating Structures – A Beginners Guide by Zoe Lord

Liberating Structure resources

A Beginners Guide by Zoe Lord

Thank you for joining the Liberating Structures session at the International Forum for Quality and Safety in Health and Care in London. The welcome page and this guide is just for you!

Getting started

I’m delighted that you’re keen to lean in and try new ways to ‘include and unleash everyone’ and take steps to ‘practice deep respect for people and local solutions’ (these are Liberating Structures principles!). If you are completely new to Liberating Structures, my personal suggestion would be to start with some of the simpler Liberating Structures (1:2:4:All, 15 % solutions, TRIZ, Troika, W3) and have a go with a friendly group of colleagues or even your family to build your confidence.

After looking through the freely available resources, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like any bespoke support to develop your organisational knowledge, experience and confidence. We can co-develop an immersion workshop that not only trains, develops and immerses your teams into the world of Liberating Structures, but we can also tackle your organisations biggest issues during the workshop! My contact details are:  


  • Official Website: where you can find a wealth of information and case studies.Book: The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures, Keith McCandless, Henri Lipmanowicz, 2014
    App: The app for iPhone and Android was developed by German company Holisticon. It offers a convenient reference for the core repertoire. They also sell Liberating Structures card decks.
  • Slack group:
  • Matchmaker: The matchmaker will help you connect your purpose with the most appropriate Liberating Structure.
    User groups:
    Liberating Structures – User Groups are virtual or in person meet-ups that happen around the globe, where you can learn more about Liberating Structures.
    Social media: #LiberatingStructures

IHI Session Content

Below you will find the Liberating Structures and documents referred to in the session. Read the full article or click the section you’d like to read more about:


TRIZ is one of my favourite Liberating Structures and is all about stopping counterproductive activities and behaviours to make space for innovation.

You can find more information about TRIZ here.

At the forum, I shared an example of a TRIZ that I used over 10 years ago… How do we ensure we reliably create an urgent and emergency care system that deliberately fails, is totally ineffective and makes current issues worse for patients, staff and the wider system?

When working with a group of 200 people, I used the 4 step process for TRIZ:

  • 1. How can we make this question a reality?
  • 2. Is there anything that we are currently doing that in any way, shape or form resembles any of the actions from step
  • 3. What can be stopped
  • 4. Develop an action plan.


You can enable everyone a voice, reduce hierarchy, engage and unleash everyone in contributing ideas and shaping the future by using a Liberating Structure called 1:2:4:All. 

The facilitator/lead for the session sets the question that you would like the group to think about, then

  • 1. First alone, reflect on the question
  • 2. Then in pairs, share, compare, improve and expand
  • 3. Merge 2 pairs and share, compare, improve
  • 4. Bring back to the group…

Everyone has had the opportunity to contribute and the whole cycle can be as short as 3mins and a max of 15mins.

You can find more information about 1:2:3:All here.

Ecocycle planning

Ecocycle Planning is a Liberating Structure that helps individuals and teams to strategise and map out activities and initiatives. 

It is based on the ecocycle in nature and helps to identify what should be nurtured, let go, or cultivated. It provides a powerful framework for understanding the complex dynamics of growth, renewal, and change, enabling more strategic decision-making and resource allocation.

You can find more information about Ecocycle planning here.

Please do stay in touch as I would love to hear how you get on. Feel free to tag me in posts and pictures on Twitter/X (@Zoelord1) or LinkedIn (Zoe Lord).