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A paradoxical Future Search

The meeting after the training session was short and improvised. The reason, an invitation from the aikido section of the national budo-organisation. The folder that I held in my hand was somewhat bigger than a postcard. The picture on the cover was sky blue and the headlines DOJO NO KOKORO the heart of the club, and FRAMTIDSKONFERENS (Future Search Conference), JÖNKÖPING 27-28 NOVEMBER 2004 were in yellow and black.

The folder had arrived by mail the previous week, unfortunately the very week that I had been away. Now was Tuesday, and the answer was due on Friday.

–What is it all about? one of my pupils asked.
– A very good question, I confessed.

Yesterday evening I had asked that question to myself. In order to obtain insight and wisdom I called my daughter Pia. She and Janne Bratt run a dojo named Riai here in Göteborg. Generally she is familiar with the labyrinths of politics. This combined with the fact that she appeared on the cover of the folder, made me convinced that she could inform me.

However, she reacted like a question mark stung by a bee.
– I have no idea, she answered curtly.
– But you are on the cover, I said.
– Nobody asked me.
– Come on kid. It is a praxis to ask for permission before putting a person on the cover of a pamphlet, and thus act as a symbol for what ever it may be.
–I know.
– But are you coming? I might be important.
– Janne and I are having a camp in Copenhagen that week end. It was determined half a year ago.
That was it. Period.

Dojo no kokoro I reflected feeling slightly irritated. Having a heart in the club should not prevent one from using one’s head.

I read the folder’s text aloud hoping that one my pupils would see a light at the end of the tunnel.
–Does any one feel like going? Hotel room, luncheons, dinner and a great party - all is on the house. At a short notice perhaps, anyhow it would be superb if somebody would represent our club.

The group eyed with a sudden interest the texture of the mat and the structure of the ceiling.

– Short notice… eight years…, murmured someone and giggled.

– They must have loads of money inviting all the clubs in the country. Are all of them invited…iwama ryu, aikikai and ki…all of them? wondered another voice. By the way, what is Future Search Conference?

I tried to explain that a Future Search is a great big meeting lasting several days. All groups having stakes in the organisation create in union a common vision about the future which becomes the foundation of a plan of action. The point is that changes will emerge from within the system not being determined by some superior or central power. The keyword is democracy.

–Obviously the committee will present alternatives of approved guidelines that they want the discussion to focus on, somebody said. Actually, that seems like a way of monitoring the process through limiting it to an approved of set of alternatives. That does not sound like a Future Search as described by you.

— Let us not get stuck in particulars, I said diplomatically. The guys in the committee perhaps just thought that Future Search had a groovy sound. And the main lines are correct. Obviously there will be a conference...and obviously it will focus on how the aikido in Sweden will look like in 2011. And that is the future is'n it? So far everything fits all right.

—But it does not appear to be a very democratic procedure. Is there hidden motive?

– Let us not rush into an area of wild speculations, I said. The only thing we know for sure is that there is little time to spare. Today is Tuesday, and the answer must be mailed the day after tomorrow.

– Somebody happened to look the clock and discovered that the hands had moved. Wow…we’ve go to do something! But what..? Listen…Future Search sound really groovy!

An arm was raised.

– Hmmmm… is there an agenda?

Once more I read aloud, browsing the text:
…what is demanded of the committee…deep discussions… various subjects…summing up…continued discussions…

– Not really, I admitted. At least not anything what we in this context commonly would call an agenda. But we are supposed to be presented some subjects suitable for discussions. That’s what it says here in the folder.

– In other words, we are supposed to show up at something … but we don´t really know what…yet…

I cowardly dodged that one, nodding towards a thoughtful face that apparently had something on its mind.

– Where is the paradox? the face inquired.

– Pardon me?

– Well, it says that the motto, Dojo no kokoro…the spirit or heart of the club… is a paradox. But where is the paradox? The word paradox means something ambiguous and contradictory. Where is the ambiguity or the contradiction? Is there an inconsistency between club and spirit or heart? And why is it not a matter of course that what is good for the clubs is good for the members as well? What is the alternative? To make decision not being good for clubs…or the members…or what?

The thoughtful face belonged to a language teacher. Perhaps it would have been a wise move to have asked a language teacher to scan the text before it left the committee’s office, I mused.

—Perhaps that paradox just like Future Search appeared to be a groovy word, I said attempting to joke. Having a catchy rhythm and so on. Perhaps they were short of time and they grabbed something, or anything in the flight.

—Short of time…eight years…are we measuring by geological standards?

– Nobody is perfect, I said. I am sure that there will be a good party. You just have to pay for your own drinks. Who’s joining?


– All right, the club pays for a light beer or a mineral water.


I sighed. The future can for sure neither be predicted nor controlled. At least not in the long run… I guess, that also goes for Swedish aikido. And the year of 2011 is still far, far away.

Zeth Moberg

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DOJO NO KOKORO the heart of the club, and FRAMTIDSKONFERENS

Beutiful, really! I totaly agree and I´m happy someone sais something!
M. Edman
Ki-no Knekyukai Göteborg, Sweden

2005-01-24 02:27:35 Maj Edman

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