Future search is a PLANNING MEETING that helps people transform their capability for action very quickly. The meeting is task-focused. It brings together 60 to 80 people in one room or hundreds in parallel rooms.
Future search brings people from all walks of life into the same conversation – those with resources, expertise, formal authority and need. They meet for 16 hours spread across three days. People tell stories about their past, present and desired future. Through dialogue they discover their common ground. Only then do they make concrete action plans.
The meeting design comes from theories and principles tested in many cultures for the past 50 years. It relies on mutual learning among stakeholders as a catalyst for voluntary action and follow-up. People devise new forms of cooperation that continue for months or years.
This is an emergent approach to facilitation that helps people address difficult issues creatively and collaboratively. The facilitator assures self-organizing thinking (choice-creating) by avoiding the usual forms of control like holding to an agenda. Instead she follows the energy of the participants and helps them to work on an issue that they really care about. The facilitator records the discussion on four sheets headed ‘problem statements’, ‘solutions’, ‘concerns’, ‘data’. This approach has been developed by Jim Rough as part of the workings of ‘Wisdom Councils’. Outcomes can be in the form of ‘breakthrough ideas’ which might be different from what was expected by any of the participants beforehand. Typically meetings might take place over four 2/3 hour slots. Decisions and action planning might need to be undertaken at a separate follow-up meeting. More information can be obtained from YouTube and www.wisedemocracy.org