Co-creative process in which different stakeholders work towards common action.
To formulate ambitions and plans that all parties feel ownership of.
2.5-day working conference with a reflection of the stakeholder field.
Shared vision of the future and widely supported action plans.
- Co-creation Buurtteams Amsterdam
- Future of nature-inclusive Netherlands
- Women’s economic empowerment in Kenya
- Digital energy market
Future Search is a philosophy and methodology in the form of a dynamic working conference. A Future Search conference brings together different stakeholders around a complex issue. An issue that is urgent, in which each party has a stake and where people need each other to address it. In a carefully facilitated inquisitive process lasting 2.5 days, around 60 participants work on common objectives and action plans.
Future Search is a co-creative process that results in shared ambitions and plans, that all stakeholders feel ownership of. It is used to jointly realise breakthroughs and initiate transformations. Future Search is used worldwide in a variety of sectors.
Future Search is based on four principles:
- the whole system in the room
- think global, act local
- focus on the future and common ground
- self-management and responsibility for action
A Future Search brings the whole ‘system’ together in one room: a reflection of the broad stakeholder field around the issue at hand. Ideally, this should be 64 people: eight different stakeholder groups, eight people per group. The participant group is composed based on the ARE IN principle: people with Authority (decision-making power), Resources, Expertise, Information and Needs. In this way, the group consists not only of subject-matter experts or decisions-makers, but also, for example, professionals in the field, citizens or clients, and experts by experience.
A Future Search conference has a fixed agenda:
- focus on the past
- focus on the present
- focus on the future
- common ground and shared ambitions
- action plans
The conference is prepared by a planning team consisting of participants from each stakeholder group.
Typical results of a Future Search are a shared vision, multi-year strategy, process design, strategic framework, implementation plan or action plan.
What is unique about a Future Search is that at an early stage all stakeholders work together in one room on a common issue. In dialogue and co-creation, participants learn to better understand each other and each other’s points of view. In this process, new insights and approaches emerge that no single party could have come up with alone, let alone implement. This provides a strong foundation for the implementation of plans and activities. And it contributes to a learning system, in which all stakeholders contribute to achieving the shared ambitions for the future.
Future Search was developed in the 1990s by American facilitators Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. The methodology is described in detail in their book Future Search: Getting the Whole System in the Room for Vision, Commitment and Action. They are also founders of the Future Search Network. Perspectivity is one of the few Dutch members of this international network.
- Over the past 20 years, we have facilitated more than 50 Future Search projects. To know more, browse through our track record.
- Watch videos on the Future Search philosophy and on Future Search in practice.
- Visit the website of the international Future Search Network.
- Contact us to discuss how to use Future Search for your specific issue.
How can women-led enterprises strengthen themselves and expand their businesses to contribute to a sustainable growth of the economy in Kenya? In a Future Search conference, this question was addressed by all stakeholders involved.
In this Future Search project, various stakeholders came together in an old monastery and co-created a national agenda for a nature-inclusive society.
A participatory online roundtable to shape together the future of the Egyptian IT Outsourcing workforce.
Perspectivity led a large and intensive co-creation process for shaping Buurtteams (neighbourhood teams) Amsterdam.
How does Future Search look like in real life?
What is the philosophy behind Future Search?
In our work, we use a broad range of methodologies and approaches that lean on decades of experimental research. We gratefully build on the theories and concepts developed by our teachers and colleagues. To achieve sustainable results, we determine which method fits every project best.
Methods we frequently use: