Greetings AEA365 enthusiasts! My name is Susan Sloan and I’ve worked as a professional evaluator for about 20 years, first at Duerr Evaluation Resources in Northern California and for the last six years in the field of public health in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, I’ve participated in many planning groups–some successful and some not so much.
About three years ago I had the opportunity to learn about some large group facilitation tools that can be really helpful in moving a complex planning effort along very quickly. One such tool is Open Space Technology (see AEA365–Susan Kistler on Unconferences and Open Space Technology 10/1/11). Another is Future Search, a technique developed by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. Future Search is a marvelous tool for getting the “whole system” in the room for the purpose of establishing common ground for action planning.
Lessons Learned: While traditional planning efforts are typically drawn out over a period of months or years, Future Search condenses the initial planning phase to a 2-1/2 day conference where individuals representing all key stakeholder viewpoints are invited to explore the past, present, and future of a key issue in a concentrated workshop that employs very specific steps. By the end of the conference, commitments to address the issue are strengthened, common ground has been established, creative strategies for moving forward have been identified, and people are ready to take action.
In our county, we brought together 70 individuals from across the spectrum of education, youth, social service, health care, families, business, etc. to focus on the issue of how to better serve children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN). A summary of our “Taking Action” Conference can be found at: http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/health/children/pdf/taking_action_future_search_summary0409.pdf
Rad Resource: The Future Search Network provides extensive resource support for finding out more about how to use this powerful planning tool: www.futuresearch.net. This year, the Organizational Development Network presented the Future Search Network with their 2011 Outstanding Global Work Award.
This Award recognizes an achievement which:
- Takes place on a global level or in an arena primarily outside the USA
- Breaks new ground or demonstrates an innovative approach
- Actively leads or contributes to positive change in the world
- Is sustainable
- Has a well-articulated purpose
- Demonstrates measurable change or progress toward change
- May represent either a large or small intervention of significant impact or import
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