Search Conference – Actionable Results

The search conference is a participative planning method that enables people to create a strategic plan for their community to achieve their most desirable future—a plan all stakeholders will support. In a search conference, participants who are residents, community leaders, and business leaders actually become the community planners. A search conference makes it possible for a community to thrive in uncertain times.

Purposes of a Search Conference:
The search conference is useful for coming together around a common purpose and searching to create a most desirable future. The search conference works for the following systems:

  • Communities looking for a desirable future regarding complex social issues, such as the environment, education, or social services
  • Organizations—corporate or public sector—searching for new solutions, strategies and directions
  • Organizations wanting to develop a plan for merging their business strategies or integrating their service delivery

Search Conference Outcomes:
A search conference is a powerful, dynamic planning mechanism because, as facilitated by STAR Group, the search conference will produce the following:

  1. A series of Goals, Strategies and Implementation Plan: These are comprehensive and contain the participants’ commitments to their community.
  2. People who:
  • Are eager to implement their plan and share their learning with other community members
  • Have shared their information and positions and learned about those of others
  • Can fine-tune their plans and support the community

The following chart identifies the various components of a USC:

Leadership Team Development

– Creation of 8 to 12 respected community leaders who are or become knowledgeable about the current energy issues in their defined geographic areas.
– A database of approximately 200 local stakeholders respected by their peers.
– A prioritized list of residents by their representative stakeholders group.
Each of these is used to build knowledgeable, local support.

Utility Search Conference Event

– Specific recommendations are developed by participants that address the immediate energy issue.
– A technical document written in layman’s language addressing the energy issue is provided to the client and the participants.
– All of the input from the event is documented for use by the client, participants and CWG members. This is an easy reference for understanding the thinking that generated the recommendations.

Community Working Group

Volunteers from the USC nomination pool are selected to assist the client in refining the USC recommendations into implementable results. Additionally, the CWG members are invited to make presentations at meetings of the general public and before regulatory bodies.

Technical Working Group

Local people with technical knowledge are selected to outline important information and to provide research sources to be used to educate the general public. They also give guidance to the client concerning neighborhood, political and regulatory issues that may deter the project.

Open House Meetings

Early involvement and input from the general public most often minimizes the impact of special interest groups.
These meetings often result in adjustments to a project that gains majority support by the public.