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Future search

Future search is a planning meeting and a way for a community or organisation to create a shared vision for its future. The meeting is task focussed and works best when you want commitment from all stakeholders. It enrols a large group of stakeholders who are chosen because they have power, resources, information on the topic, expertise and are affected by the outcomes. It requires a ‘whole system’ in the room approach. Ideally there are between 60-80 people in one room or 100s in parallel rooms.  Stakeholders take part in a highly structured process to discuss past, present and desired future. Through dialogue they discover their common ground and only then will actions plan be developed.

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  • Everyone with a stake in the issue is in the room, which produces a rich mixture of information and ideas;
  • Proposals are more likely to be acted upon if all stakeholders feel committed to them;
  • Designed to help participants understand and appreciate the agendas of others, which helps them to enlarge the common ground they share;
  • It is hoped that if a shared vision is created it will inspire participants into the future;
  • People are often energised by seeing that complex issues can be tackled when the whole system is present, when they can identify common ground with other people, develop a shared vision and agree concrete actions.
  • Requires a trained facilitator(s);
  • Cannot deliver action without good follow-up structures in place;
  • Needs a lot of time and energy to organise;
  • It can be hard to convey the energy and excitement of participants to non-participants ie those not ‘in the room’.
  • Shared vision;
  • Action.
  • Action without good follow-up structures in place;
  • On an issue that isn’t central to the lives of participants.

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