That was the challenge presented by the District of Columbia Office on Aging. They wanted to engage all of their employees in a strategic, forward-looking conversation about the future for seniors in the District of Columbia.
The Future Search process we designed enabled the agency to bring its roughly 70 employees together to (1) validate a common mission, (2) take responsibility for action, and (3) develop commitment to implementation. With a new mayor coming into town, we developed a process that would be particularly relevant in an uncertain, fast-changing environment when it is important that everyone have the same large picture in order to act responsibly.
DCOA employees worked in small groups as “stakeholders” (defined as those with a shared perspective), and in mixed groups that were a cross-section of the entire agency. Every person had a chance to speak and listen. This encouraged the creation of a shared picture based on the experience of all those who were present.
At the end of the Future Search, the agency (and its employees) emerged with a clear picture of the major trends facing its primary constituents in the city, as well as a deeper understanding of how each team and division can contribute to the agency’s strategic priorities.