By WiT, Jun 5 2014 10:57AM

Working with organisations on various projects around complex change, we have found the concept of Three Horizons, developed by the International Futures Forum, to be a really useful framework, and one that helps people make sense of the complexity of change, and how we can think about the future.


Put simply, the three horizons are:


Horizon 1 is business as usual, using the same thinking we have always used, thinking that is no longer adequate to help us adapt to the changing world around us.


Horizon 2 is a zone of experimentation, exploring new possibilities in response to the limits of the first horizon, and the potential of the third.


Horizon 3 is the future pattern. As Bill Sharpe writes in Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope - 'exploring the third horizon is a skill in working creatively with the unknown, the partially known and the uncertain'. We need to use systems thinking here, and part of this process is learning to see everything as patterns - exploring processes rather than structures:


'Three horizons thinking is based on consciously making this shift to bring processes into the foreground and explore how they are shaping the structures of life around us, making a sort of figure-ground reversal in our awareness. Instead of seeing a world of stability to which change and uncertainty 'happen', we instead become aware that everything that seems fixed and stable is just part of a slow process of change, embedded in other processes that extend out as far as we want to explore.'


This got me thinking about the idea of figure-ground reversal.


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