I was struck by something Marvin Weisbord said at a recent Future Search accreditation session. He had commented something to the effect that “people are doing the best they can every day with the resources and information they have at the time.” That’s a powerful proposition when it comes to engaging disparate groups of stakeholders on a project.
Recently I was in Toronto working with some great people on launching and planning a York Region Police Future Search conference related to developing a region-wide integrated strategy for crisis response to youth 18 and under with mental health concerns. Pretty virtuous stuff if you ask me. Then, it occurred to me that this was naturally the case when seeking to create a common future and all we really need to do is tap into the nascent optimism in each constituent. Presupposing optimism in the project was a latent assumption in selecting the planning committee. Being on the phone with the Future Search sponsor approximately a month ago, I recall how easy it was to identify the various people we thought were essential to the project success from a planning perspective. Having just met with them last week, this was born out in spades. The creative energy was ramped up very quickly and there were some great ideas brought forward as a result of optimism and enthusiasm for the project. What a great way to start and I can hardly wait to see what the planning conference brings in April.
This is my first Future Search conference and I have been blessed to partner with Tina Dias on this particular initiative. Since I often take on large group facilitation independently, committing to a partnership with Tina for Future Search conferences is a new approach for me. Working with Tina reminds me how healthy and refreshing such connections with highly skilled peers can be. Operating as an independent practitioner, a vast network of support and expert colleagues is truly an understated asset. I am going to start accentuating that more. Each one of us presupposes optimism not only in the projects we undertake, but also in our working relationships. This separate-but-connected way of working is a different model, for sure; one that many hide for fear of being taken advantage of, but one that should be developed more often in my opinion. More about this at another time, I think, as I make manifest something that has always been essential to my success.
i think the opening premise is incomplete. Only well motivated people “are doing the best they can every day with the resources and information they have at the time.” I think presupposing optimism (and having your assumption born out)may be unique to your field. Lucky you! Or you may have a natural knack for bringing that out in people, which makes a lot of sense in your field as it would be quite an assett. ~ my 2 cents worth.
Thanks for your comment. I think there are two things at play here:
1. I believe the optimism is a philosophy and world view and that coming from this perspective opens up a whole world of opportunity and strategy. Coming from the other angle tends to entrench defensiveness.
2. The nature of Future Search work is in and of itself, optimistic. In fact, Weisbord and Janoff’s approach is to seek common ground rather than areas of disagreement – not that they are unimportant – just that in terms of this particular approach, it accentuates the virtuous commonalities.
Imagina a world where we come from abundance and optimistic collaboration. Very different than many an organization, I know!
Thanks for the reminder.