Conflict and tension between blacks and white America have regularly place police forces in the middle of the conflict since the end of the Civil War. There have been dramatic outbreaks such as the Tulsa (Greenwood) Massacre, through the civil right protest/riots of the 60s, to protests in over 1,000 US cities after the murder of George Floyd.  Some states and many communities are currently engaged in creating new regulations to address this conflict.

Over 150 years of this conflicted history demonstrate that laws and regulations do not change the hearts and minds of those involved. They do not build trust, and they do not build safety. The Warren commission after the riots across the nation in the 1960s was thoughtful and considered. It yielded dozens of suggested actions to address the problems it uncovered. Hardly any of those have been implemented some 50 years later.  Commissions, regulations, surveys, and new rules and laws have shown their ineffectiveness. Each one of these steps make some progress. In each one of these steps creates unintended side effects and backlashes. The result is slow decades long progress.

To address these problems with traditional change efforts Marvin Weissbord and Sandra Janov, both experienced change agents began designing an unique, out-of-the-box approach to change.  It is built on four simple principles and goes under the name of Future Search. Visit the Future Search Network website for extensive case histories and information and videos along with books and manuals. This approach turns typical meetings and planning on their head.



  • Get the “whole system” in the room. Invite a significant cross-section of all parties with a stake in the outcome.

  • Explore the “whole elephant” before seeking to fix any part. Get everyone talking about the same world. Think globally, act locally.

  • Put common ground and future focus front and center while treating problems and conflicts as information, not action items.

  • Encourage self-management and responsibility for action by participants before, during, and after the Future Search.

  • Urge full attendance – Keep part-time participants to a minimum.

  • Meet under healthy conditions – This means airy rooms with windows, healthy snacks and meals, adequate breaks.

  • Work across three days (sleep twice) – People need “soak time” to take in everything that happens.

  • Ask for voluntary public commitments to specific next steps before people leave.


There are hundreds of trained Future Search meeting managers around the world.  They guarantee a deep knowledge of the above principles and will hold your community to them. This can be extremely challenging for three reasons. First, people want to take shortcuts and invest less time and fewer people which invariably fails, but it is faster. Second, these principles are not the norm; they are somewhat uncomfortable; people prefer to fall back on what they know even though it doesn’t work. Third, the majority of people have never experienced a successful, efficient consensus building process applied to a highly conflicted situation; they lose faith.



Participants in a large Future Search led by willing Phillips

This unique approach has a 30 year track record with thousands of successful conferences. Some of them have been done in the corporate world nurturing successful integration of business acquisitions. The majority of them have been done in areas of social service and public school education in the United States. All began with highly contentious, intractable issues.


Willing Philip leading the action planning section of a Future Search.

Future Search Conferences have particular applicability and benefits benefits to addressing community a issues around public safety redesign of policing policing and building safety for all.


  1. Contact Us

  2. Read one or more of these books


Future Search – 3rd Edition – An Action Guide to Finding Common Ground in Organizations & Communities by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff.  Bestseller –  over 35,000+ copies sold

The latest edition of the definitive book on a change method proven effective in most of the world’s cultures. Thoroughly revised and updated, with nine new chapters. Provides a wealth of tools, handouts, and practical aids. Berrett-Koehler 2010. list price: $29.95


Lead More, Control Less – 8 Advanced Leadership Skills That Overturn Convention, by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff

Can you really be a more effective leader if you give up trying to change or control people? Using examples and case studies, Weisbord and Janoff show leaders how they can share responsibility, defuse group conflicts, enable everyone to get the big picture, and more. Berrett-Koehler 2015.  $19.95


Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There – Ten Principles for Leading Meetings That Matter, y Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff

Rather than trying to change people, why not try to change the conditions in which they interact? A presentation of often contrarian insights into how to design meetings that actually accomplish something. Berrett-Koehler 2007.List price: $20.95

  3. Attend an introductory/training workshop.

  4. Watch this video – 12 minutes

  5. Visit this webpage to learn about the power of a Public Safety Future Search done virtually with the latest technology.