Futures Playbook - Aurecon

Navigate Uncertainty. Anticipate. Act.

Futures Triangle

future-triangleThe Futures Triangle play helps deconstruct your future by contextualising past, present and future trends that affect your organisation.

By identifying and understanding the types of changes being faced, the action steps to your preferred future become clearer. This play maps the current perspectives of the future of the topic under investigation through three dimensions:

  • The pull of the future – the visual images and ideas about the future, the emerging trends and technologies
  • The push of the present – the trends that are creating change in the present, what is pushing you towards different futures
  • The weight of the past – the patterns and choices we made in our past

It then explores the tensions between each of these elements by exploring:

  • The barriers from the past, preventing change in the present
  • The responsibilities of the past that are continued into the future
  • The change required to reach for the future from the present

This play is based on the Futures Triangle framework developed by Sohail Inayatullah. It is used to understand and explore plausible futures.

Dynamics + Patterns

Why run this play?

This is a Dynamics + Patterns play that helps you understand and analyse how change might occur.

You can use this play to help you:

  • Contextualise past, present and future trends
  • Identify and unpack the drivers and barriers of change
  • Identify the actions and steps you need to take to realise your vision of the future

How do I run this play?

Play Overview

6–8 1.5–3 hrs Moderate

As a group select a topic or area for investigation. Have a brief discussion about the issue and clarify the objectives of the workshop.

Using Post-It notes and the Futures Triangle canvas, describe your thoughts and ideas and arrange your descriptions within the following segments:

  1. PULL – What might this new future look like?
    What is pulling us forward? What emerging trends and concepts are you being asked to respond to?
  2. PUSH – What are the trends and drivers of change in the present?
    What is pushing us to change right now? What policies, decisions, procedures and technologies do we think will cause change in the near term?
  3. WEIGHT – What are the patterns and weights of the past?
    This section allows us to explore the history and legacy of the issue and topic. We need to understand the trajectory of the past to understand what the patterns going forward might look like.

Now we move into the tensions and relationships between the past, present and future. Using Post-It notes, arrange your responses between the following segments on the Futures Triangle canvas:

  1. PUSH | WEIGHT – What is holding us back?
    These are the actions and issues that need to be addressed to embrace and make the most of the present.
  2. PULL | WEIGHT – What will we take forward from the past?
    These are the things you need to preserve and protect going forward, they might be assets, or values that need to be managed through a transition or transformation to a future state.
  3. PUSH | PULL – What might we do differently?
    Identify the what is new that needs to be created to realise the future.

Finally as a group, discuss what you have produced. What sort of patterns have emerged? What are the strategic implications of these patterns?


The Futures Triangle Canvas and Facilitation Guide by Aurecon is licensed under CC BY 4.0


Do your research!
You may have a group that comes from different backgrounds and might not be aware of the issue. Bring them up to speed by inviting speakers, create some pre-reading, ask participants to do some homework.

Use one canvas per future
There may be competing images of the future, you only want to consider one per canvas. If you want to explore alternative visions of the future, we recommend using a second or even third canvas. If running this play in a large group, you can have different groups work on different futures and canvases.

The Play: in action

Given the uncertainty around market and industry trends, it is becoming increasingly common for organisations to look for sustainable competitive advantages in a constantly evolving landscape.

The Futures Triangle play has been used to help organisations understand how their industry might shift and what those changes would mean to their business both strategically and tactically.

The ease of accessibility to data has made it easier for teams within an organisation to identify what aspects of their work would change, but overall they still require direction and clarity of the actions needed to bring them closer to their preferred future.

As part of the application of the Futures Triangle play, workshops are held to categorise and organise their collective insights to create a shared and holistic picture of their current operating landscape.

From here it becomes easier for organisations to distinguish the emerging opportunities of the future, what is happening in the present, the steps required to take advantage of these opportunities and identify what skills or infrastructure they need to be well positioned in the future.

Ready to find your future?

While this page gives you everything you need to run the Play yourself, you might prefer to work with the people who know the frameworks and theories best. Aurecon can help guide you through your Futures Playbook experience and help you navigate your digital future.

Contact us for an initial conversation

Next steps?

You can use this Strategy Play to identify what actions you need to take now to achieve your vision of the future.

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