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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM23-PDW9: Using Future Search to Address Wicked Systemic Problems

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Professional Development Workshop: PDW9 (live)

Bush Baby Venue
Tuesday, 27 June 2023

9.30am to 1.30pm SAST

Using Future Search to Address Wicked Systemic Problems

Facilitator: Jeff Axelbank

Brief Description:

This highly interactive and experiential workshop introduces Future Search (FS), a proven systemic intervention that can be applied to government and private organizations, communities, school districts, human and social services, and healthcare systems. By including multiple stakeholder groups, FS leads to paradigm shifts, out-of-the-box thinking, and the building of new coalitions and relationships. “Wicked problems” have so much complexity that, despite study by experts and attempts at new policy or laws, they defy solutions and problems remain. This makes them particularly suited for a method such as FS that takes a wide systemic view.
Future Search is based on group dynamics, systems theory, and social psychology, and is a process that “gets the whole system in the room” to discover the common ground that exists in multiple stakeholders, and harnessing this to spur these stakeholders to take action to address the wicked problem they’re addressing. Participants will learn about FS and experience its components as it applies to a problem chosen by the group. For this PDW, we plan to invite and include stakeholders from within South Africa so that local issues can be considered, and FS can be applied to them.

Target Audience: Administrators, Consultants, Corporate Leaders, Policy-makers, Community Leaders, Government Officials, other stakeholders.

Level: Introductory

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to identify the four principles of Future Search.
  • Participants will be able to list the categories of stakeholders in a Future Search Conference.
  • Participants will be able to list the parts of a Future Search conference and the tasks for the planning team.
  • Participants will be able to contrast Future Search with other large group interventions such as Open Space and World Café.

Biographical Summary

Jeffrey Axelbank, Psy.D. is a psychologist working for 30 years in both clinical and organizational consulting roles. He has worked with a variety of companies and organizations focusing on issues such as conflict resolution, strategic planning, role consultation, and leadership team development. In particular, Dr. Axelbank specializes in large group/whole system interventions involving multiple stakeholder groups, using such methods as Future Search, Open Space, and World Café. He trained at the Organization Program of the William Alanson White Institute, and received advanced training in the Dynamics of Consulting program. Jeff was named 2011 Psychologist of the Year by the New Jersey Psychological Association, and was awarded the prestigious Peterson Prize in 2013 by the Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology for “outstanding contributions to professional psychology.” Jeff serves as Treasurer on the Board of The International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.