Monthly Archives: April, 2016

The power of the Future Perfect

futperf2We are in the middle of my new series of SF masterclasses here in London. The first, about ways we can work with the future, was in February, with the next two (working with the past and working with the present) in April and June.  After the masterclass  I received a message from Steve Creffield, an experienced consultant who participated in our online Solution Focused Business Professional course a few years back.  Steve worked with an organisation in 2014, at which point they were in his words “a bit lost, rudderless and very problem focused about their recent past”.

As part of the work, Steve went through a Future Perfect process with them. This is a signature bit of  SF process, where the customers beam themselves forward into the better future they are imagining at the time.  Steve takes up the story:

“…we used a form of the miracle question to develop a shared destination…  the question went like this… “

Suppose…that we were finish our day here and go home…do what we do… and then go to bed… And while we are asleep…a miracle happens… a miracle that transports us forward to the morning of the 10th July 2019… and not only have those years past they have been a tremendous success…but we were asleep so we don’t know that the miracle has happened… When you wake up, what are the first signs that let you know miracle has happened?…. what do you see… what do you notice… what else?… what else… how do others know/notice that things have changed?

The vision that Steve captured for them is below:

The Morning of 10th July 2019
You enter our office and it’s a place that is valued and utilised. It’s clear and clean, it is spacious and it has a distinct identity. It has a buzz about it, people are coming and going, it’s both lively and quiet. It’s a place where you want to be and has a sense of real purpose.  There is a CEO who is supported and holding the big picture in mind. The technical team are excellent at spotting opportunities for cross-collaboration, new funding and ways of enhancing our own capacity and that of our partners individually and collectively.
The team are working in multiple project groups who are clear about their remit and committed to the new team Purpose. It’s a team where we know what each other is doing and what strengths everyone has. There is opportunity for progression, peer learning and professional development. It’s a team that values social interaction and spending time together.
It’s a productive team operating under a clear brand that is aligned to our Purpose of ‘informing a sustainable future’. It is a team that is actively pursuing that purpose by researching, disseminating and teaching. It’s a team that is great at sharing and promoting its work, it uses multiple forums and formats to share knowledge and stories of success. It’s a team ready to make a high-quality submission to REF2020 and also capable of high impact policy-relevant outputs. This team has a voice and uses it well to inform a sustainable future.
It’s an organisation that is trusted, rigorous in its approach, sought after and engaged with a wide research and policy network. It is a highly valued ‘independent’ partner, an organisation that has excellent relationships with the University, key donors and clients.
It’s a team who are excelling at:
Conducting high quality, insightful and impactful research,
Applying innovative and rigorous research designs,
Spotting and creating opportunities,
Engaging in policy and research debates,
Communication – in multiple contexts and via different media,
Collaboration with University colleagues and external partners,
Predicting needs and trends,
Synthesising, assimilating and communicating ideas,
Getting things done, on time.

There are lots of great elements here, and lots of ways in which the group is joining with others.  I might have been tempted to get a few more tiny details about the very first signs that these things were starting to happen.  However, maybe that wasn’t necessary… Steve continues:

What was lovely was going to visit them in their spanking new offices, to meet their new CEO and to hear the news of them winning a host of new contracts that secure their future for some years ahead. I came away feeling both proud of them, pleased with the work, and deeply appreciative for the SF work you and others have done.  Looking forward to what the next masterclass brings.

It’s always excellent to hear of useful and successful work!  This is an excellent example of how a detailed and desirable view of the future can play a huge role in orienting a team – and being part of them creating better futures for themselves and others in an energising and direct way.


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