Determine the Future Consequence with the Futures Wheel

The Futures Wheel


When you are required to explore all the future changes for exploring it with full impact you will definitely need to identify all the probable outcomes. In these cases, individuals may start to panic and can assume the list of first consequences with some tricky and incomplete ways for analyzing. Here, the Futures Wheel, which was introduced by Jerome Glenn in 1972, can come into use. The visual representation can provide you with a structured and the planned way for brainstorming out the direct and indirect results of the decision, trend or the event.

Basic Concept

Jerome Glenn basically created the Futures Wheel for identifying all the potential results of the events and trends. You can also use this tool in the decision making process or in the change management process. The technique can be very helpful for choosing between different options and determining the consequences of changes. During the impact analysis process, it can therefore be used as the brainstorming tool. It can develop the multi concepts and can also show the complex interrelationships. The future events and the trends can easily be organized with probable results of the strategy.

How can you use the Futures Wheel in Your Business?

Let us now go through the steps of implementing the futures wheel in your business.

Step 1: Recognize the Change

You are required to identify the changes of the future. You can take a note in the piece of paper or on a flipchart. It can be either be an event, or problems and the probable solutions of the issues.

Step 2: Determine the Direct and First Order Consequence

The next stage will involve brainstorming the direct results of the changes. All the consequences can be mentioned in different circles and the main idea can be connected centrally with the help of the arrow. These results can be considered as the first order consequences.

Step 3: Recognize the Second Order Consequence

All the possible second order consequences are required to be recorded from the first order consequences. You can add the additional consequences in the second stage just as the same way you have mentioned in the first stage. After that, you can keep on repeating the third and the fourth order consequences and so on.

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Step 4: Analyze Implications

After you have finished recording all the levels of the futures wheel, you can possess a clear understanding of all the probable direct and indirect consequences which can result from the changes required. You can make a list of all the consequences.

Step 5: Identify the Actions

In the cases where you have identified the negative consequences, you should think about the solutions and manage them in the right manner. When you can observe all the consequences as the positive ones, you can obtain full advantage from them.

During the process, you can use the color coding in the various levels of the wheel. It will help you to analyze and prioritize the results after you have gone through the brainstorming stages. All the consequences are necessarily not negative and you can be benefitted with the positive ones. It is always advisable for completing the impact of one ring of wheel before moving to the next level. If you can implement the primary impact with the secondary and the tertiary levels, you can move to a thinking model which is linear and are less probable in revealing the whole range of the possible impacts at different levels. This will help to prevent the negative results if you miss the important and the unintended consequences.

You are required to identify the consequence and the impact by asking what happens after the event? What if the event is not successful? What are the consequences and the impacts? What are the possible solutions?

The Futures Wheel can be used:

  • In small teams where a problem can be worked out with various strategy options. For example, introducing the method of user-pays.
  • Individually where the consequences are related with the individual shifting or the retiring jobs
  • In large collective groups where the facilitator can document the wheel on the whiteboard and all the participants can speak out about their ideas. The circles of the wheel can be filled with each of the ideas.

Example: Judith’s Future Wheel

Judith created a futures wheel for observing the impact of her team if she eliminates staff. If there is a budget shortfall, she will by trying with all the other options and trimming her employees will be the last resort. She can mention all the possible consequences in the wheel and can manage the expectations accordingly. There can be various positive consequences from budget shortfall which can be materialized.

The wheel can help the individuals for thinking about various issues for unfolding the consequences of the event or the strategy in a continuous improvement process. It always helps in avoiding the one dimensional or the linear thinking. It can shift your mind from the linear and simplistic process to a more organic and network oriented thinking. It can easily identify the unintended and the relationship consequences.

Therefore it is the simple as well as the practical tool for brainstorming the direct and indirect consequence of the trend or the event. You are required to identify what actually is required to change in the whole structure of the wheel. The changes can be edited in the circles and can be connected with the central circle with an arrow. After you have completed recording all the consequences, you will observe a visual map that can lay various implications for the problems or the events by allowing you to manage the solutions properly.

Key Points from the Article

From the article we now know about

  • The basic concept of the Futures Wheel
  • The process of implementing the tool in your business

Therefore the Futures Wheel can help you to see the future in a very clear manner with all the possible outcomes and their probable solutions.

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