Insight Unlimited

Non-profit, Community, and Grassroots Consulting

Services

Envisioning a Shared Future: Future Search

"Each of us has a piece of the truth."
—Mahatma Ghandi

Many consultants offer good professional advice. Insight Unlimited goes further. As Future Search facilitators, our role is to create a space where you can think broadly and deeply. Future Search empowers your whole team to find the answers that already lie within your agency or community. All stakeholders come to agreement, take ownership of decisions, and act as one.

Hundreds of communities throughout the world have used Future Search to help people find answers to complex, systemic issues. For two and a half days at a collaborative visioning conference, all stakeholders (including those outside your organization) gather in one room. Together you examine the organization’s past, present, and future; identify common ground; envision an ideal future; and make action plans. People often talk about the results of a Future Search ten years later. Future Search always:

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  • Includes all relevant stakeholders
  • Brings voice to every opinion
  • Creates a holistic view of the issue
  • Creates buy-in from all parties
  • Identifies common ground
  • Clarifies the vision of the future
  • And leads to immediate and sustained action.

A Future Search Conference energizes stakeholders and helps forge new partnerships. It uncovers the "highest common denominator"—what people really want. It is the only process we know that can change a system without changing the people.

A Future Search works because everyone owns the process, owns the plan, and owns the solutions.

Case Study: Large Foundation Shifts to More Collaborative Paradigm

A large foundation was grappling with effecting deep lasting change in the communities it served and working in a truly collaborative manner. They were looking for the path to genuinely solving the systemic problems their funded programs worked on.

Insight Unlimited supported the facilitation of three parallel Future Searches over three days. The board and the staff looked closely at their history and the reasons they came into this work. Each group imagined a future where their jobs were literally no longer needed, and then looked back at the path that brought them to that future. All three groups joined together to create action plans and make public commitments to projects.

The result was a complete paradigm shift, shifting the authority to make decisions about what happens in their programs to the people receiving support from the programs.

Case Study: Faith-Based Activist Non-Profit Enters a New Era

Faith-based peace activists were at a crossroads. After several decades of activism, the founders had retired and new staff was taking over. Some of the programming had been outgrown, and it was unclear how to move forward proactively.

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The organization settled on hosting an abbreviated Future Search. Over a day and a half, the board, staff, volunteers, and task-force members gathered to consider what was holding them back and how to get it out of the way. They looked closely at their roots in the Vietnam War era and how the organization came to be. They reflected on how to do work of the same relevance in today's world. While shortening the conference left some questions unanswered, the organization did craft action plans that allowed them to move forward with work they all knew needed to be done.

Over the next few years, the organization increased membership, began to pay living wages for staff members, added task forces, and developed deeper connections within the faith community.

"You did a WONDERFUL job at the Manchester Senior Center Future Search. You led us in the right direction with confidence and skill."
—Nancy Ballard, Member, Manchester Senior Center

To harness the power of Future Search for your organization or community, call Insight Unlimited at (860) 956-9299, or e-mail info@insightunlimited.org.