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Future Search

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Future Search

An Action Guide to Finding Common Ground in Organizations and Communities


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To set an action plan two decades into the future, first you must learn the lessons of the past.

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Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured


In this book, Marvin R. Weisbord and Sandra Janoff describe a three-day program to help organizations develop a future plan. Their conference is designed to unite groups of people from different areas of an organization so they can create a program together that they all support. Typically, the conference includes 50 to 70 people who review the past, explore the present environment, create future scenarios, identify common ground and make action plans. The program encourages dialogue and working together as peers. Future Search suggests how you might organize this program yourself, from setting up the agenda to planning the logistics. Because the book is a specific, practical guide for a particular type of conference, it will primarily interest those leaders and managers who want to put on such a program. getAbstract recommends Future Search as a good hands-on tool for companies, non-profits, government agencies or other organizations that want to hold a future planning conference.


The Nature and Advantage of a Future Search Program

A Future Search program is a task-oriented meeting for planning with a large diverse group, using a "whole systems" approach. The goal of the meeting is to create a dramatic new action plan. Group members do this by reaching a better understanding of their past and present, confirming the values they hold in common and thinking about what they want for the future. This thought process allows them to create a future plan which is "grounded in reality."

To this end, participants engage in a series of informal dialogue. They are encouraged to listen to and understand each other. Discovering "common agendas and shared ideals" is emphasized and participants are encouraged to find new ways to interact.

This approach gives people the freedom to move towards a common future everyone can support. It releases participants from solving problems or managing conflicts and shows them how to discover a new "shared picture of reality." They move through past frustrations and uncertainties to shape a clear guide for the future. This future plan is based on shared responsibility, mutual support and creative ideas generated by...

About the Authors

Marvin R. Weisbord is an internationally-known organizational consultant. He is the author of Productive Workplaces and Discovering Common Ground. Sandra Janoff is a psychologist and consultant. She has designed and facilitated whole-systems processes in the public and private sectors. Together they plan and lead Future Search conferences, coach facilitators and offer public networks. They are partners in a consulting group, Future Search Associates.

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