Audience Dialogue

Preparing for the future

This page is the starting point for what will be the largest-growing area on this website. Over the last few years, Audience Dialogue has been working in the broad area that some people call planning, some call foresighting, others (a few) call prospective evaluation, and still others call futures studies. For the sake of simplicity, we're calling it preparing for the future.

The scope is much wider than normal "planning." The problem with planning is that organizations make plans, set out to follow those plans - and then, usually, something unexpected happens, and the plan is no longer relevant.

The solution? Instead of that straight-line planning ("We will do A, then B, then C") you need to use a much more flexible process. You need to accept the fact that the future of your organization (and of yourself, for that matter) is largely set by forces outside your control. You can influence it, but you can't control it. For a realistic plan, the diagram won't look like a straight line. It will be more like a spiderweb.

Pages already available are:

Pages not yet finished (some not even started, but we hope to have a stab at some of these topics over the next few months):

Eventually, I expect this set of pages to become another book, which will nicely complement the two I've written in the last few years - Know Your Audience and Participative Marketing for local Radio. Like the other two books, this would be directed mainly at media workers in developing countries, and community-based organizations in western countries. But don't stop what you're doing! There's no way this book will be finished before 2007.

In the meantime, try this manual (a 68-page PDF document): Crafting the Strategic Plan. If you're going to do strategic planning, this is good guidebook: much more clearly written than most books on this topic. It happens to be for the state government of Illinois in the USA, but it could apply anywhere. It's fine as far as it goes - but it could go a lot further.

An alternative method of strategic planning, strongly influenced by Appreciative Inquiry is to be found in a report by the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA). The've produce a booklet (available online) called Strategic Planning: An Inquiry Approach(PDF Acrobat file, 33 pages; also available in French and Spanish..)

If you would like practical help on a futures planning project, such as an urban development, then you may like to contact Steve Gould at Steve Gould Futures.

[Yes, a lot more to come - this page isn't finished yet.]