Future Search The Method

Applications in Human Services

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Human Services FAQ's

It takes too much time.

It depends on how you look at it. Many organizations working on long range plans, or a strategy to create fundamental change find they are spending 4-8 hours a month in various meetings related to the topic ... and keep doing this for months without closure. A future search gets everyone involved in making and implementing the plan together for one concentrated period. Rather than months from now, your organization is ready to take action right away.

Will a Future Search Conference get us out of planning and into action?

Most definitely. One of the keys to the future search process is that it does not stop with planning; it goes the next step to action. Supports are built in for follow up. We often hold meetings to revisit action outcomes six months to a year after the meeting.

Who is included in a Future Search Conference?

During the recruiting phase, the planning team identifies a broad cross section of stakeholders from the "whole system". Stakeholders are chosen in order to create a microcosm of the entire organization or community. This process builds deep buy-in and ownership; volunteers and leaders emerge, and long time leaders are re-energized.

How does Future Search deal with disagreements and diverse ways of looking at life?

Future search is designed to bring people together to discover what they agree upon. Differences are noted but not worked. People speak fully about what they believe rather than putting others down. Participants often find it a wonderful experience to be able to speak and listen in an environment that values each idea. We find that many organizations spend 80% of their time talking about the 20% of things they disagree about. Future search brings this ratio more into alignment.

Does future search require special training for participants?

No. People need only show up and use the skills, experience and motivation they already have. People accomplish what they already want to do and never dreamed they could. Future search allows people to work through the issues that stand in the way of implementing their own hopes and dreams.

It is difficult for us to get good attendance at a 3 hour meeting. How will we get people to attend a 2 1/2 day meeting?

Experience shows that future search conferences are well attended and that participants generally stay the entire time. Stakeholders on the planning team invite people from their own stakeholder groups, explaining the process and soliciting a commitment to full attendance. In addition, we find that people are often more willing to commit to a longer meeting they believe will have real results, than a shorter meeting they believe may be a waste of time.







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