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Dutch Consultancy Firm Hosts a Future Search Training to Establish a Firm to Explore and Promote Future Search in the Netherlands

The Netherlands, March 8, 2004
Annemieke Stoppelenburg & Mario Verweijen

Click here to read the whole Story...

From February 15th till 21st Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff stayed in the Netherlands. The invitation to come over came from FS-procesbegeleiding, a new small firm established with the sole purpose to explore and promote Future Search in the Netherlands and to perform future searches regarding all kinds of possible issues.

In order to give the Dutch network a swift start, they invited Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. In this week two major events were scheduled:

Lecture Event

On Tuesday 17th a "lecture" was organized in cooperation with a top 5 Dutch consultancy firm. Marvin and Sandra spoke of past, present and future of Future Search, both the methodology and the (international) network. The meeting was attended by some 40 people: consultants, managers and policymakers.

The lecture was illustrated with a great number of vivid descriptions of self-experienced cases. Two really eloquent people showed us the real power of storytelling. Our favorite one-liners: "I used to understand organizations without having any understanding of communities, now I understand communities and don't understand organizations anymore."  And "Sometimes something works, nothing never works".  To us this showed a deep shift in mind-set, and a great talent for proportion.
Learning Workshop

After this 3 hour "lecture" Marvin and Sandra went to Woudschoten, a beautifully located conference center in Zeist.  There the learning workshop was to be experienced.

The learning workshop was attended by 23 consultants and policy makers.  As quit a few consultants were participating in this workshop, Marvin and Sandra paid special attention to the theoretical and practical background of future search.

We learned and experienced that a group is very capable of making the decisions that are necessary: "the facilitator is working hard doing nothing" in order to keep the group whole. Feelings, emotions are there, let them be, as long as they don't overwhelm a participant. That is one of the main tasks for the facilitators in keeping the group whole.

A fun part: Cultural Differences

From the beginning Marvin and Sandra told us that Future Search can be used through different cultures. The experience we had, proved them right.  Nevertheless, we had our bit of fun, because of the cultural differences between two Americans and an room full of Dutchies.

Every time someone gave a short presentation, Marvin and Sandra started clapping. That is not the way we are used to show our appreciation, so we were amazed and amused.  During the workshop, Marvin and Sandra adapted and stopped clapping themselves, while the Dutch adapted the other way around and started clapping

Some reactions of the participants

"It was a great workshop and I was impressed by the tutors. I have already informed the network for urban innovation about this method. I expect that a Future Search with all parties involved could make a miracle happen working on the revitalization of the old neighbourhoods."

"We had a meeting trying to find out what ways we can use Future Search in our local government, perhaps developing our policy on education, or setting up a schedule for city-oriented activities."

"The process of Future Search is great! By using the common history and searching for the common ground in stead of looking for the differences as we are used to do an future search has dynamics other working  conferences lack."

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