28 methods
Liberating Structures

W³ - What, So What, Now What?

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You can help groups reflect on a shared experience in a way that builds understanding and spurs coordinated action while avoiding unproductive conflict.

It is possible for every voice to be heard while simultaneously sifting for insights and shaping new direction. Progressing in stages makes this practical—from collecting facts about What Happened to making sense of these facts with So What and finally to what actions logically follow with Now What. The shared progression eliminates most of the misunderstandings that otherwise fuel disagreements about what to do. Voila!

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Jonathan Courtney (AJ&Smart Berlin)

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)

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The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process.

What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples:

  • The conversion flow of our checkout
  • Our internal design process
  • How we organise events
  • Keeping up with our competition
  • Improving sales flow
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Hyper Island

World Cafe

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World Café is a simple yet powerful method, originated by Juanita Brown, for enabling meaningful conversations driven completely by participants and the topics that are relevant and important to them. Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines. Participants then self-organize and explore a set of relevant topics or questions for conversation.

Liberating Structures

Nine Whys

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With breathtaking simplicity, you can rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work. You can quickly reveal when a compelling purpose is missing in a gathering and avoid moving forward without clarity. When a group discovers an unambiguous shared purpose, more freedom and more responsibility are unleashed. You have laid the foundation for spreading and scaling innovations with fidelity.
Hyper Island

Future Mapping

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The purpose of Future Map is to create a shared view of industry trends in the recent past, present, and future. In the workshop, participants map key trends from the past year, the current year, and three years ahead. They then review the map, identify patterns and discuss the relevance of different trends. It is useful for supporting discussion and debate around high-level themes: society, technology, politics, etc.

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Jake Knapp

Four-Step Sketch

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The four-step sketch is an exercise that helps people to create well-formed concepts through a structured process that includes:
  1. Review key information
  2. Start design work on paper, 
  3. Consider multiple variations,
  4. Create a detailed solution.

This exercise is preceded by a set of other activities allowing the group to clarify the challenge they want to solve. See how the Four Step Sketch exercise fits into a Design Sprint

Hyper Island

Mash-Up Innovation

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Mash-ups is a collaborative idea generation method in which participants come up with innovative concepts by combining different elements together. In a first step, participants brainstorm around different areas, such as technologies, human needs, and existing services. In a second step, they rapidly combine elements from those areas to create new, fun and innovative concepts. Mash-ups demonstrates how fast and easy it can be to come up with innovative ideas.

Hyper Island

Idea & Concept Development

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Ideation and Concept Development is a process for groups to work creatively and collaboratively to generate creative ideas. It’s a general approach that can be adapted and customized to suit many different scenarios. It includes basic principles for idea generation and several steps for groups to work with. It also includes steps for idea selection and development.

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Hyper Island

Exploring Client Centricity

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Client-centricity” (or “client-focus”) is an approach to business based on putting the client/customer at the center of an organization's philosophy, strategy, and operations. This exercise promotes collaborative exploration and reflection around an organization’s approach to its clients. Participants discuss and share positive experiences they have had as clients, and use this to define their approach to “client-centricity” as a group. They discuss different groups of clients based on needs, and explore how successfully the organization has met those needs in the past. The exercise ends with a prioritization of areas for improvement.

Hyper Island

90-Minute Prototypes

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90-Minute Prototypes is a short and sweet prototyping workshop that challenges teams to build basic clickable app prototypes within 90 minutes. It’s easy to plan and run and demonstrates how rapidly an insight can be turned into a test-ready prototype. Use it to inspire your team to embrace a prototyping mindset.

Liberating Structures

Conversation Café

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You can include and engage any number of people in making sense of confusing or shocking events and laying the ground for new strategies to emerge. The format of the Conversation Café helps people have calm and profound conversations in which there is less debating and arguing, and more listening. Sitting in a circle with a simple set of agreements and a talking object, small groups will engage in rounds of dialogue with little or no unproductive conflict. As the meaning of their challenge pops into focus, a consensual hunch is formed that will release their capacity for new action.
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Hyper Island

The 5 Whys

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This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. As the title suggests, the group defines a problems, then asks the question “why” five times, often using the resulting explanation as a starting point for creative problem solving.