The Story of the Future Search liveability and safety inner City of Enschede

In November 2022, I had the honour to facilitate a three-day Future Search, together with my colleague and friend Eva van der Fluit. The topic was liveability and safety of the inner city of Enschede, a medium sized town in the East of the Netherlands. Although safety is actually increasing in last years, residents and entrepreneurs experience a decline of safety. Incidents get a lot of attention in the media, such as loitering youth and litter nuisance. The city council and the police experience a ‘waterbed effect’. When they take action in one area, the problem pops up in another place. What they want to achieve: Develop a joint future vision for a safe and liveable inner city and formulate concrete actions that we can jointly put our shoulders to the wheel, and convey a positive message to inhabitants and media.

This poster was made after the conference, with a summary of topics and plans to realise a desired and feasible future for the inner city. What happened? Read part of the story of the Future Search in this blog. For more details see view and download the public photo report.

Poster with a summary of topics and results from the Future Search

Planning the conference

On June 20th (5 months before the FS) we had our first meeting (online) with the planning team. They called themselves ‘work group’. This group of nine people represents a variety of stakeholders: Client (the municipality), Entrepreneurs, Police, Housing, Social care, Citizens, Communication, Facilitators. Together we planned the three-day meeting for November, in the stadion of Football Club Twente (the pride of the city). Five meetings with the work group followed, four online and one at the Stadion, and we had several online preparation moments with the ‘core team’ (the 2 clients and the 2 facilitators).

We payed much attention to the invitation process. We made a gross list of stakeholders, with names of people they want to invite, using the who ‘ARE-IN’ formula on a digital board in Miro. ARE-IN is an acronym for people with Authority, Resoursces, Expertise, Information, Need. The two clients Bastian and Hans clustered them into eight stakeholder groups. They also crafted the invitation, based on an example I provided. The members of the work group took care of inviting people, mostly done personally: We don’t want just anyone, we need YOU!

The Future Search

On November 9th, a broad representation of stakeholders, about 64 people, gathered in a room of the football station of FC Twente. In seven working rounds they explored the past, present and future of the issue at stake, using co-creative methods for collective inquiry and harvesting. Each round with an alternation of work in small groups and sharing results in plenary. No long presentations, clear instructions and strict timekeeping helped participants in getting to the point. After presenting their images of a desired and feasible future, they discovered the common ground for next steps. In the final round they made an agenda for action planning, using Open Space Technology, and 10 action groups presented their plans.

Exploring the past using three timelines. For the issue, the smaller personal context, and the larger context of the world


Participants are responsible for results and follow-up. All results are shared on the wall.


Shortly after the conference, two participants shared their experiences in a talkshow for a regional TV-station. Ten action groups are active at the time of writing. The first newsletter was sent out, to share how things are going and to get more more people involved. Of course, this takes time and some groups are more energetically than others, but see what can happen in three days on the poster with topics and results. If you want to read more about the story of the of the Future Search, view and download the public photo report.

More about Future Search

Interested in Future Search? See , about how to get the whole system in the room for vision, commitment action.