Liberating Structures: the Slow Code Retreat’s little facilitation secret

5 minute read

You can now run the Slow Code Retreat by following the facilitation guide. By doing so, you’ll also learn 6 Liberating Structures for your future workshops.

Drawing of a snail carrying the "Liberating Structures" box logo on his back. The Slow Code Retreat can act as a Liberating Structures immersion workshop training.

After discussing with a few participants, we would like to spread this workshop. Could you come to run meetups in the area where I live?

I liked how you made us go around the room and meet each other.

The facilitation was excellent, better than anything I have seen before!

Previously, I introduced the Slow Code Retreat against their never-ending backlog of tasks.

I recently ran the Slow Code Retreat at Devoxx Paris, Newcrafts, and DDD Europe. Feedback has been great. Some people even wanted to run the workshop in their communities and teams! Unfortunately, the workshop may seem challenging to facilitate at first.

I want to facilitate the slow code retreat workshop myself. Wouldn’t it be great if I could grow my facilitation skills simultaneously?

Detailed Instructions for Facilitating the Slow Code Retreat Workshop

Matthieu Cans was an enthusiastic participant in the workshop at Newcrafts. After the session, he asked me if he could re-run the workshop at Alpes Craft the week after. With the slides, Matthieu ran the workshop both at Alpes Craft and at his company with his co-workers. He received similar feedback as I did. Again, some participants said they wanted to spread this wider.

We need to re-run this workshop in our communities, companies, and other conferences!

Picture of a stack of slides for the "Slow Code Retreat". This contains all the material needed to run the workshop.

Here is a detailed PowerPoint presentation (.pptx). The presenter notes include step-by-step facilitation instructions. I licensed the slides under Creative Commons. You can freely use and adapt them as long as you mention the source and keep the same license.

Spread Slow-Code AND learn Liberating Structures

I prepared the Slow Code Retreat with the Liberating Structures facilitation system. The workshop’s goal is to help developers achieve a sustainable pace. But as a bonus, it will also teach you how to facilitate using Liberating Structures!

You are safe: your audience will love the slow-code-retreat

Photo of the hands of 2 people showing their thumbs up. Overall, the participants of the Slow Code Retreat love it.

The feedback from workshop participants has been consistently positive. Many expressed how the workshop has had a profound impact on their work.

I will take his advice and start doing the things he taught us. It will make me a happier and more calm engineer. - Participant at DDD Europe

Big impact! How to look at development as a training system. - Participant at DDD Europe

Thanks a lot for this workshop. It had a real impact on my way of working. - Participant at NewCrafts

😂 I attended the Slow Code Retreat because I wanted to ‘commit’ to a more sustainable coding lifestyle! - A joke by Chat GPT

This workshop is particularly well-received by experienced developers. Juniors may not be ready to embrace that there will always be more work than time 😱 ! Consider your audience to determine if this workshop is the right fit for them.

You can do it: the slow-code-retreat is reusable by design.

Photo of the Liberating Structures design cards that represent the sequence of the Slow Code Retreat.)

The workshop is a string of Liberating Structures:

  1. Get in the mood with Spiral Journal (in english)
  2. Meet and share with Impromptu Networking
  3. 5 minutes of storytelling to explain how I came up with this idea of Slow Coding
  4. Sharing what Slow Coding is with Gallery Walk (in english)
  5. Experiment with different flavors of Slow Coding using Improv Prototyping
    • Live coding demonstration
    • Setting up groups and development environments
    • Approximately 30 minutes of slow coding
    • Retrospective using 1-2-4-All
    • You can start with an optional solo round if time allows
  6. 5 minutes of storytelling to explain what I have learned with Slow Coding
  7. Takeaways with 15% Solutions

If you have a co-facilitator, you can even replace the two storytelling steps with a Celebrity Interview, which would be a 7th Liberating Structure.

Liberating Structures create high-quality and reusable workshops. For proof, other facilitators ran the Slow Code Retreat with success.

You will learn: the slow-code-retreat is a Liberating Structures training.

Photo of a traffic sign written "New Skills Training". Given the detailed facilitation instructions, the slow code retreat can serve as a Liberating Structure Training.

We typically learn Liberating Structures through practice. The idiomatic Liberating Structures training is a 2 or 3 days Immersion Workshop. The Slow Code Retreat can act as a mini immersion workshop.

💡 Run the Slow Code Retreat and get a taste of the surprising power of Liberating Structures!

I first heard of Liberating Structures at XPDays Benelux 4 or 5 years ago. They looked interesting, but I classified them as “yet more facilitation activities.” As a result, they always ended up at the bottom of my learning list. I understood my mistake when we looked at how to train Murexians to workshop facilitation.

🤣 Am I becoming a Liberating Structures fanboy?

So, why should you learn Liberating Structures instead of other facilitation techniques? Liberating Structures are a disruptive language for collaboration. They radically shift how people work together!

  • They encourage contributions from everyone.
  • They thrive in complex and diverse environments.
  • They have a viral aspect, and they propagate and spread by design.
  • They can scale to accommodate groups of 100 or more.

The Slow Code Retreat workshop is mostly a sequence of Liberating Structures. That is why facilitating this workshop will teach you your first Liberating Structures.

As written above, Liberating Structures are viral. So you are likely to see some of the participants reuse 1-2-4-all in a later meeting!

Run the Slow Code Retreat and Incorporate Liberating Structures in Your Workshops

Like Matthieu Cans, run the workshop, and spread slow coding while becoming a better facilitator!

Find your audience and send an invitation! Before the session:

  1. Check the slides’ notes for the invitation and purpose of each structure.
  2. Read the official descriptions of these Liberating Structures.
  3. Observe how they are adapted to the Slow Code Retreat. That should give you the knack of Liberating Structures.

Photo of the space shuttle at take off. Liberating Structures are a real game changer in how we collaborate. Use the Slow Code Retreat as an opportunity to get started with Liberating Structures and get ready for the ride!

In your future workshops, add high return-on-investment structures such as:

  • 1-2-4-All
  • Impromptu Networking
  • 15% Solutions

These structures are excellent starting points to enhance your facilitation skills. Once you are at ease with those, pick another in the Liberating Structures menu.

Finally, if you improve the slow code retreat, please contribute back through Github. This way, we will get the workshop better together.

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