Future Search The Method

Applications in Business

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Business Cases

AQA - London, UK 

AQA,  the largest curriculum organisation in the UK, preparing and marking exams and courses for 1.5 million students each year. turned to Future Search in an attempt to break through to a new conversation and a different approach. AQA, an independent charity and non-profit business is the UK’s largest exams organisation – creating millions of exams and syllabi most commonly sat by 16 and 18 year olds: GCSE’s and A-levels.

The biggest surprise to the organisers of the Future Search was how open and honest all the participants could be, once they understood that they all shared the same system, and were all working towards a common goal. They discovered what that goal was together and aligned their ambitions, their knowledge, their aspirations and their values to support it.


Fishing Industry Summit for Health (FISH) Future Search: To create a shared vision, commitment, and action plan to improve the commercial fishing communities total health. October, 2015.

New England Fishermen are facing challenges to their physical, psychological, behavioral and financial health. As one of the frontline agencies, the Fishing Partnership Support Services convened a Future Search to create a strategic plan that included stakeholder groups with an interest in the well-being of fishermen and their families. Although participants had a shared interest, many had never met before they gathered to discover how to work collaboratively.

Future search introduces a leading Canadian global asset management company to the value of broad stakeholder participation for strategic planning.

In May, 2003 in Montreal, Quebec Canada, a leading Canadian global asset management company used future search as part of a Strategic Planning process. The goal was to develop and reach consensus on a new vision/future scenario, following a change in ownership.  The process brought together together senior and middle management, all functional and operational departments, clients, suppliers, and advisers. 

This was an innovation for this company which was used to more traditional top down planning and developed.  It grew out of a contract to implement a traditional strategic planning proecss.  With the help of the consultant, the process moved from a "tell.sale" approach to a "testing" approach and finally to a "co-creating" approach. 

Once this shift was made, there was broad support fro the process throughout the organization and enthusiasm for implementing the results.  Following the FS workshop, all employees participated in work sessions with senior management and members of the planning team.

A new culture and a new style of leadership are now emerging in the company.

For more information contact:  Jean-Pierre Beaulieu (jpbeaulieu@sympatico.ca) or Emile J. Carriere
Functional Assessment in Job Injuries in Southern Ontario Province, Canada


On September  25-28, 2002,  a future search was held,  to look at how functional assessment of injured workers is done in Southern Ontario Province in Canada.  The stakeholders included injured workers, health care representatives, assessment providers, labour groups, employers and the Workplace Safety Insurance Board.  The theme of the conference was "Functional Assessment: A Time for Consensus, A Time for Change."

Additional Resources: Conference Newsletter.pdf

Telecommunication Company, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2001.
Internal and external partners of a telecommunication company, with product penetration in 85 countries and speaking 14 different languages, got together to create a new vision. As a result, their shared decisions are transforming this organization from product driven to market driven, from costs to quality, from hierarchy centered to decentralized decision making. A participating client made a commitment to a real business partnership by saying, "we will share our market intelligence with you."
Chemical manufacturing plant, Massachusetts, USA, 2001.
Struggling with profitability, environmental impact and workplace safety, this company used future search to help make the plant the best, easiest, safest workplace it could be. The future search kicked-off a year of follow-up activity and produced productivity gains of 30-62% per product, a 75% improvement in customer quality, a 42% reduction in inventory, and major safety and environmental improvements throughout the plant.
Industrial Sector of German Hairdressers, sponsored by L'Oreal, Germany, 2001.

Whole business line of the hairdressing sector--hairdressers (owners), employees, industry, trade, shop-designers (furniture, fittings, equipment), unions, guilds, training, education, private schools, customers, politicians (Lobbyists), trade press--created a future for the sector through building constructive relationships.

Multi-national Specialty Chemicals, Washington DC, USA, 2001.
Having split into two companies and reorganized to meet changing market conditions, this company used future search to help the newly formed, world-wide human resource function develop a new vision for their role. Human resources plus their customers, a cross section of employees and managers from various divisions around the world, set a common agenda for the future.
American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), 2001.

Members from across United States, Caribbean, Europe and Asia met in Orlando, Florida on the future of workplace learning and performance.Conference outcomes include a book on the future of the HRD profession (to be published 2002) and an on-line knowledge management system. The theme of the conference was:  "Collaboration in a Virtual Team Environment:A Case Study in Planning the ASTD/AHRD 2001 Future Search Conference "

A report and a file with conference outcomes is available. Please contact Robert Dilworth, for more information on obtaining a copy of the video.

Additional Resources: Visit website ASTD.zip

Law Firm, Cherry Hill, NJ, USA, 2000
Experiencing considerable growth, the key issue for this law firm was the tension between expanding and maintaining a strong collegial culture. One outcome of the future search was unanimity on a specific approach to growth for central and branch offices. This was significant accomplishment because the partners were unable to agree on a coherent strategy prior to the future search. Future search principles have been used in successive planning meetings.
Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association. Chicago, IL, USA 2000.
This is the group within the ABA that focuses on how law firms manage their practices. They created a future for the management section and their stakeholders that included fresh ideas on how to stay relevant and close to their client base.
High-Tech Medical Equipment Manufacturer, New York, USA, 2000.
Using future search to address major quality, safety and productivity problems, everyone in the plant, including engineers, permanent and contract workers and corporate executives achieved a common vision of how the workplace should operate. Over the next year, follow-up activities led to dramatic improvements in quality and workplace safety, along with redesigned production lines and warehouse areas.
Penn Ventilator Corp., Philadelphia, PA, USA, 1996

The future of Non-Residential Ventilation Systems sponsored by Penn Ventilator. PVC brought together customers, suppliers, consultant engineers & systems designers and a cross section of the organization. Major outcome was decentralizing to create flexibility in the organization and responsiveness to customers.


Sally Theilacker, Program Manager
Future Search Network www.futuresearch.net
4700 Wissahickon Avenue, Suite 126
Philadelphia, PA  19144
215.951.0328 or 800.951.6333

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