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Futures Wheel

Futures Thinking Futures Wheel

Structured brainstorming that helps participants visualise how important trends or events might impact on the policy area.

On this page:

Why you should use it
What it involves
What you will get out of it
Ideal circumstances for use
References, guides and key readings

Why you should use it

  • Helps identify the impact on your policy area if an event or decision happens.
  • Helps you think about how to manage the event or decision, or take advantage of any opportunities it presents.

What it involves

  • Choose a trend, event or decision and place it at the centre of the wheel. Then explore with workshop participants the direct consequences of that event or decision and include the consequences in the ‘spokes’ of the wheel. Then consider the consequences of the first set of consequences and include them in the second circle of ‘spokes’. Generally three or four order of consequences are considered.
  • A visual map is produced that concisely summarises the the thinking, interactions and emergent patterns (see the diagram below).

An example Futures Wheel summarising the the thinking, interactions, and emergent patterns around the topic Future of Emergency Preparedness

Source: Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Strategic Foresight Guide

What you will get out of it

  • Helps identify unintended consquences of an event or decision.
  • Identifies and maps connections and causalities arising from an event or decision.

Ideal circumstances for use

  • Works best for relatively narrow, well-defined changes.


  • It won’t reveal blind spots so the results may be limited to the obvious consequences of change.

References, Guides and Key Readings

UK Government Office for Science’s Futures Toolkit (page 110).

Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Strategic Foresight Guide (pages 24-25).

Last updated: 
Friday, 28 February 2020

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