The Futures Triangle, developed by the futurist Sohail Inayatullah, is especially useful for identifying the factors influencing the future of a chosen theme.
The triangle is the analytical framework for identifying three types of factors affecting the future of the topic chosen for analysis. The push of the present and the weight of the past are based on existing information, whereas the pull of the future is insightful and includes different images and visions of the future.
- WEIGHT OF THE PAST: what kinds of limitations and obstacles does past impose on us? What prevents us from moving forward? These may include different commitments, persistent beliefs and unsustainable worldviews, values or ways of thinking.
- PUSH OF THE PRESENT: Where is the world now heading and how can we make a difference? What processes of change are underway? What is currently pushing us to change ourselves or to change things around us? These include trends and other changes in society and people’s lives.
- PULL OF THE FUTURE: What are our images of the future? What is the best thing that could happen? Here, you can consider different dreams, plans, visions.
The Futures Triangle can be used face-to-face or virtually. Choose a topic you would like to discuss in terms of the future. Write the theme in the centre of the triangle and go through the three aspects of the triangle using the questions described above. Discuss and write your thoughts on sticky notes and attach them around the points of the triangle. You may wish to use Sitra’s trend cards to identify the push of the present.
You can use the results of your analysis in many different ways: for example to identify issues in the push of the present or the weight of the past that you want to influence, or you can start working on a shared vision based on your assessment of the pull of the future. There are many possibilities.
If you want to work on a vision on the basis of the discussion, you can use this Imagining a preferred future exercise.
- The Futures Triangle is described on page 13 of Sitra’s Megatrends 2023 publication.
- Sohail Inayatullah: Six Pillars: futures thinking for transforming
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