Future Search The Method

Applications in Communities

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Communities FAQ's

Who has used future search?

Since 1991, future search has been used in communities all over the world. People discover that future search is accessible, affordable and effective and bridges race, gender, age, class and other demographic factors.

How does future search work? 

In less than three days, stakeholders in a community organize to take new initiatives even if they have had no prior contact or a history of frustrating meetings. They do this by exploring their past and present, creating preferred future scenarios, discovering what they share in common and choosing new forms of action.  

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.  

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. 

If we invite participants, the future search may be seen as an exclusive meeting. We are used to having open meetings where everyone is welcome.

The reason we invite people is to make sure that a cross section of the community is present, not for the purpose of excluding anyone. Sometimes, where an open meeting format is important, the planning team will put out an open invitation to the entire community, setting a deadline for responding. After that deadline, the team will review the lists of attendees, identify any missing voices and invite them also. The main purpose is to get both the usual people and the not-so-usual people to the meeting. 

Anything we decide can be changed or ignored by our elected officials. 

This may be true. However, because elected officials are included as participants, they will already be part of the outcome. They will have the same buy-in and understanding as other participants and will be able to represent the outcome to their colleagues. In addition, we ask participants to choose actions they are ready, willing and able to make happen. The process is not about making recommendations to other. It is about empowerment and capacity building.







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