Author Topic: Identifying Future Consequences of a Change  (Read 1308 times)


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Identifying Future Consequences of a Change
« on: April 17, 2017, 07:06:49 AM »
If you've ever needed to explore the full impact of a proposed change, you'll know how hard it can be to identify all possible outcomes.

In situations like these, many people panic, and list the first consequences that they can think of, resulting in a list that's shallow, incomplete, and tricky to analyze.

This is where the Futures Wheel can help. This visual tool gives you a structured way of brainstorming the direct and indirect consequences of a decision, event, or trend.

About the Tool

The Futures Wheel (see figure 1, below) was created by Jerome Glenn in 1972. Glenn has since become a recognized expert and speaker on Future Studies.
Figure 1 – The Futures Wheel

How to Use the Tool

Step 1: Identify the Change

Write the change that you need to consider in the center of a piece of paper, or on a flipchart. This could be an event, trend, problem, or possible solution.

Step 2: Identify Direct, First-Order Consequences

Now, brainstorm Add to My Personal Learning Plan possible direct consequences of that change. Write each consequence in a circle, and connect it from the central idea with an arrow. These are "first-order" consequences.

Step 3: Identify Indirect, Second-Order Consequences

You now need to brainstorm all the possible "second-order" consequences of each of the first-order (direct) consequences that you wrote down in Step 2, and add them to your diagram in the same way.

Then, repeat this by identifying the third-order consequences, fourth-order consequences, and so on.

Tip 1:

You may find it useful to color-code each "level" of the wheel, as we have in Figure 1, above. This makes it easier to prioritize and analyze consequences once you've completed your brainstorming.

Tip 2:

Remember that consequences are not necessarily negative.
Step 4: Analyze Implications

Once you've completed all of the levels of the Futures Wheel, you'll have a clear picture of the possible direct and indirect consequences resulting from the change. List these.

Step 5: Identify Actions

Where the possible consequences that you've identified are negative, think about how you'll manage them(our article on Risk Analysis Add to My Personal Learning Plan gives some useful pointers). Where consequences are positive, think about what you'll do to take full advantage of them.

Futures Wheel Example

Judith's departmental budget is going to be cut by 20 percent in six weeks. She gets her managers together, and completes a Futures Wheel (see figure 2) to identify all of the possible consequences.