AOC Intergovernmental Affairs Team Members Attend Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop

Intergovernmental Affairs Court Improvement Program Director Stacy Lynch and Project Coordinator/Staff Assistant Elizabeth Whitt recently attended the Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop with Court Improvement Programs from other states. Liberating Structures rethink how people work together with an eye toward building trust and coordination. The collaborative workshop was organized by the Oregon Court Improvement Program and facilitated by the Capacity Building Center for the Courts (CBCC).

The purpose of the workshop was to teach participants how to utilize the liberating structures to facilitate meetings, trainings, projects, and more in a more collaborative, effective, and productive manner.

“Over the two days in the workshop, we learned not only many of the liberating structures, but we had the opportunity to role play the use of them,” said Whitt. “We were able to collaborate with a variety of individuals to come up with ideas for different ways to implement them. We were able to discuss certain challenges we all face, in particular the challenge of holding effective virtual meetings, and come up with creative solutions with liberating structures.”

Workshop objectives included such topics as identifying the components of a disastrous meeting and committing to not doing them; practicing TRIZ (“Theory of Inventive Problem Solving”) and setting the stage for a discussion on conventional meeting structures vs. Liberating Structures (LS); modeling how to string LS together to get work done; and unleashing a group’s creative potential and generating ideas as to how CIP teams might use Liberating Structures online in their own practice.

“When I returned, I immediately began implementing some of these liberating structures into our Zoom meetings,” said Lynch. “This workshop changed the way I thought about my approach to collaborative gatherings of all kinds. We were given resources and visuals to take back with us to assist in our practice.  And there is even a LS app for that!” 

The Court Improvement Program is funded by a federal grant program provided under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Tennessee Supreme Court received its initial Court Improvement Program grant in 1995. The CIP grant provides funding for Tennessee to assess the role, responsibilities and effectives of juvenile courts in carrying out state laws guiding child welfare proceedings and to implement improvements based on those assessments including: to provide for the safety, well-being, and timely permanence of children in foster care; to support engagement of families in child welfare cases; and to improve collaboration between the courts and the Department of Children’s Services around data collection and analysis, training, and around Child and Family Services and title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews.

The Court Improvement Program Multidisciplinary Task Force is a statewide multi-disciplinary group appointed by the Supreme Court to review and address issues of safety, permanency and well-being for children and families in the child welfare system.

“Originally, I wanted to participate in the workshop so that I could meet with CIP Directors from other States and discuss ways we in Tennessee could reinvigorate our multi-disciplinary task force,” said Lynch. “Coming together at this workshop, I was able to gain valuable insight I will use as we revamp our multi-disciplinary task force from across the country.  I also learned techniques that I can immediately implement to make an impact.”