Why a FS Conference?

Framework for a Future Search Conference

How this conference differs from typical participative meetings:

  • The WHOLE SYSTEM participates--a cross section of as many interested parties as practical. That means more diversity and less hierarchy than is usual in a working meeting, and a chance for each person to be heard and to learn other ways of looking at the task at hand.

  • Future scenarios--for an organization, community or issue---are put into HISTORICAL and GLOBAL perspective. That means thinking globally together before acting locally--learning about the "whole elephant" before acting on a part. This feature enhances shared understanding and greater commitment to act. IT also increases the range of potential actions.

  • People SELF-MANAGE their work, and use DIALOGUE--not "problem-solving" as the main tool. That means helping each other do the tasks and taking responsibility for our perceptions and actions.
  • COMMON GROUND rather than "conflict management," is the frame of reference. That means honoring our differences rather than having to reconcile them.

What we were hoping to do...

During a time of transition for the SSU OD Program, we convened those with a stake in our program to reflect with us on the ways in which we may continue to serve our community and remain relevant in today’s fluctuating economy.

 While honoring the best of what we have, we hoped to use the Future Search conference for...

  • Clarifying what is most valuable in the program
  • Identifying people and organizations that are engaged by the program
  • Clarifying its applicability in the community
  • Exploring local and global trends
  • Assessing existing and potential resources
  • Co-creating a vital future.

Engaging Stakeholder Communities. Co-creating a vital future starts with engaging the “whole system”. We intentionally invite groups that have a vested stake in the OD program, including current and past Faculty and Teaching Associates; current and potential partners including business, government & non-profit clients; Alumni; current students; Extended Education and other SSU constituencies; and Business Development Partners. All stakeholders have the opportunity to contribute in the planning process and participate in a meaningful community engagement.

Recalling the Past. The Future Search engages participants in creating time lines to connect the personal, the OD Program, and global events. Creating and discussing the visual history enables participants to see the significance of the OD Program in a new context. By telling stories and noticing significant milestones, the group intentionally reaffirms values and their history together.

Appreciating the Present. A hallmark of the design of Future Search is the co-construction of a wall map to name the trends that influence the OD Program at SSU.  Arriving at a shared understanding of the present also includes contradictory trends that lead to meaningful discussions about the core of the program.

Living the Future. The conference makes room for playful imagination. Groups present their visions for the OD Program to each other.  By developing ideal scenarios we set the stage for a new understanding of how the multiple perspectives overlap and we discover shared interest and synergies.

Confirming Common Ground and Potential Projects.  After seeing multiple possible futures, the group convenes in a dialogue format to identify common themes and to agree on how to move forward together. The Future Search conference enables a public acknowledging and naming of the practical pathways for investing in projects that are held as valuable to all stakeholders.

Moving into Action.  Once the group has established relevant meaningful projects, the Future Search offers an opportunity to identify who will take responsibility for action and creates short term and long-term goals as appropriate.

Our Agenda

Dates & Times

Day 1: Friday, January 20, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

  • Focus on the past
  • Focus on the present & external trends

Day 2: Saturday, January 21, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

  • External trends continued
  • Focus on the present & owning our actions
  • Ideal future scenarios
  • Identify common ground

Day 3: Sunday, January 22, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

  • Confirm common ground
  • Action planning


Foxtail Golf Course

100 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928