Future Search is a planning meeting setup which has been in use since the early 1980s. IKEA has used Future Search for product line redesign as described in Faster, Shorter, Cheaper May Be Simple; It’s Never Easy by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff.
I find the approach interesting. Here’s a short summary:
- IKEA sought to redesign a specific product development and distribution system.
- The managers already knew that to restore their market advantage, they had to flatten the hierarchy and broaden the lines of communication. What they didn’t know was how to do it.
- Several of the IKEA managers had attended Future Search training. They wanted to modify the method without altering the basic principles. They also believed that resources and expertise would line up if people were involved from the start.
- What happened was that the new product line design came out of a dialogue born from the deep knowledge in each person of their connection to the product. Many things happened at once, greatly shortening the time from idea to action. Actions could be taken without asking persmission from anyone not present. Having all key people in the room dramatically improved the participants relationship to their work and their coworkers.