“Only when the rules are clearly defined, can creativity truly flourish!” Voltaire
This month, I want to introduce a rarely-discussed concept; which will have large implications in your personal and business life, once you learn to apply it. It’s called a “Liberating Structure”. You may ask how “Liberating” and “Structure” go together. They actually fit together quite well.
The Business Finishing School definition of a Liberating Structure is this: (noun) – A simple framework, applied to any business or personal situation, that adds predictability, probability, and leverage.
When I explain this concept, it usually first sounds counter-intuitive to the reader or listener. As Voltaire stated (above), so many years ago, you actually can increase creativity with Liberating Structures.
Let’s see how this works in one personal and one business situation:
Personal: My wife and I decided more than 13 years ago, that we would go on a date night every Monday night at 7:30pm. This is a simple structure no doubt. Now, in our lives, everyone knows what happens every Monday night. Our babysitter knows about Monday-night date night. Our children know. Our employees know. The neighbors know. The restaurant even knows. This simple structure has allowed us to have immense creativity and freedom on our dates (and to actually have dates weekly for more than 10 years). On our dates, we are free to have fun and discuss any topic we want when we are together, without all the stress of trying to figure out when and if we can have a date. Could you imagine how many dates we would actually have had, if we had to plan it out each week, and decide when, what time, what babysitter, etc? Having a permanent, Liberating Structure allows us to dramatically improve our marriage. Other personal Liberating Structures could be: Family Dinners each night, a weekly breakfast with each child, a two-week family vacation every July, a 10-minute embrace with each child at bedtime, etc. There are literally thousands of things that you can add a Liberating Structure around.
Business: Many businesses don’t add Liberating Structures to their business activities. Instead, they lose control and create constant, success ending change. Strategies change. Schedules change. Rules change. Prices change. This is the opposite of Simplicity, Probability, and Leverage. But what if you added liberating structures to all of your business activities? What if you started every business day, by declaring your company’s objectives, values, and purpose to all employees, in a short meeting, then asked each employee to answer this question: What is the most important task that I need to get done today? This is one simple Liberating Structure meant to engage your employees. All of your phone calls, meetings, social-media times, email times, etc. can have structures built around them.
Liberating Structures are powerful. The most successful companies on earth use these in virtually all aspects of business.