Presupposing Optimism – YRP Future Search Planning Update.

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.


The Journey into Future Search with YRP

In September of 2011 I managed to complete the Future Search methodology training offered by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. The whole-system planning model is awesome and at the same time, a bit daunting. As I tend to do with the first delivery of a new program, method or service, I give the first one away free. Thankfully, a colleague has agreed to join me and together we will facilitate a project with York Region Police (YRP). The topic will be focusing on developing a region-wide integrated mental health crisis response team for youth 18 and under. WOW.

I am mentioning this project and the client specifically because there is something very unique and special about (YRP) from where I sit. These folks really do go first and I have seen it several times now. They model the way in terms of the openness, enthusiasm and virtuous approach to getting things done. I love that about values-based para-military structures. There are some very forward thinking people there who are seeking to develop the leadership capacity of the entire organization and its network though a focus on service and doing the right thing. I enjoy working with them They are professional, forthright and open to learning.

Looking forward to sharing more as the project moves along. Planning begins newt week in the GTA. Delivery will be the week of April 22nd 2012.