Parents of athletes know that when the season begins, what becomes fragmented is the number of sit-down family meals. It is common to rely on a fast food meal during a weekday game as we rush to get home and in bed. With the arrival of Five Guys Burgers and Fries ® or Panera Bread ® as our preferable options, we rarely frequent McDonalds. Somehow, the allure of Happy Meal® toys has lost its appeal in favor of specialty burgers and smoothies. We have gone from an “I’m lovin’ it” family to an “I’m endurin’ it” type of family when it comes to the golden arches.
So why a future search surrounding the Golden Arches®? The location of our McDonalds is at a busy intersection. Those traveling to the mountains and west, those traveling to Washington, DC and those needing a stop along the athletic trail appear to keep our restaurant busy. When it opened, the community threw the weight of their support behind it while leaving Wendy’s and Burger King in the dust. Every time I place an order in the drive through lane, I wonder which one of my former students will take my order. This week one of my former students who sported “Crew Trainer” on her shirt took my son’s order. Headed to college in the fall, I know that our economic support provides the income that she will need. (She is entering the nursing program at VCU, so I have multiple reasons for throwing my business in her direction!) Since our restaurant is nearly always busy, it might be natural to consider that they are all contributing to the economy of a community. Maybe not so, as our class discussion revealed.
“Getting the Whole System in the Room” is difficult when the group available to work on the facilitation is comprised of six individuals. However, for the sake of experience, it was useful to consider what it means to assume the role of a component of the stakeholders. I enjoy role-playing and think that it is often an easy way to determine how well the player understands the values and needs of the individual behind the role. When I played this role, I acted as myself when considering ideas for further discovery. Individuals, such as the master gardeners in my social circle, are invested in an organic lifestyle. However, does organic reflect the values of the typical customer?
The time lines that we created were an interesting way to gather information about the other stakeholders in the room, our classmates. The common themes among our classmates help to bridge the cultural, social and personal experiences with world and organization events. Considering our personal events and world events, along with the events of the organization made this change strategy different from the other two events, Open Space Technology, and Appreciative Inquiry.
Focusing on the past, present and possible future of an organization engages participants in a situation to consider learning and planning with equal time (Weisbord and Janoff, 2010). A shared vision for this company, we discovered, would consider the trends that are occurring globally. Public interest and concern with Monsanto and GMO’s seems to surface in my Facebook feed with regularity. I wonder how frequently planning sessions include global events that affect an organization? I would assume more often than stakeholder experiences. It would certainly be an interesting topic to explore more fully.
When our conversation began to shift towards business concepts and models, my attention began to shift as well. As a “non-business” stakeholder, I began to gravitate to the periphery of the conversation rather than as a participant in the center of the conversation. I am wondering how many voices reflected those whose lifestyle, education, and income levels differed from mine. With time and participant constraints, it was difficult to consider what all of the “hearts and minds” of possible stakeholders. With this in mind, the event did strengthen my understanding of how an event such as Future Search seeks to engage everyone in decision-making.
While the athletic season halts sit down family dinners, it conversely allows for conversation during long car rides. The arrival of “Team Future Search’s” email invitation in March provided an unanticipated, but interesting conversation regarding the future of The Golden Arches.® Understanding that high school students are ALWAYS right (ah-hem sarcasm), I mentioned the project topic in passing the night before the presentation. His reply, “They make a *&$@ ton of money.” “They’re doing fine,” he said as we bypassed McDonalds in favor of Subway. Their parking lot, I noticed was less than half-full. The other restaurant was full of athletes finishing a day of practice. Participation in this future search gives me a new way to consider change when focusing, for example, on a parking lot full of fast food restaurants. The data that I pay attention to is not necessarily the same data that all of the other stakeholders consider when drawing conclusions. Organizing for the inclusion of as many stakeholders as possible is an important component of the planning stage.
Life is full of teachable moments. The learning experience created by “Team Future Search” provides a foundation that transport to many situations. I can see discussion about the role of this corporation and the economy of our community as a possible topic of conversation for the next car ride. I remember the Golden Arches of the past. He will experience the future of them as an adult. Teachable moments…I love ‘em!
This surfaced on my Facebook® home page-
Yesterday, flying home from Houston, two tired and cranky little girls sitting behind us with their frazzled Mommy. It was not going well even before the door closed. Barely pulled away from the gate and the plane broke. Had to de-plane and wait for a replacement. My husband ran to get himself some McDonald’s. Boarded new plane, smaller of the two little girls commenced with an epic meltdown as she walked down the aisle to her seat behind us, vocalizing what we were all feeling at this point–Not again, I want my Daddy, No I’m not sitting down, and a whole lot of pitch perfect screaming. Then, with charm and grace, my husband turned around and offered her a french fry. Instant quiet. With the biggest smile, he said, “Here, take the whole bag, they’re all for you!” There was a collective sigh from others around us. He said, “she needs them more than I do” and we never heard another peep from her until touchdown. “I’m lovin’ it!”[
For Future Consideration-
The Origins of McDonald’s Golden Arches (In JSTOR of all places!)