Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) – How to Uncover Deeper Insights

Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) is a strategic foresight method developed by futurist Sohail Inayatullah.

It is a powerful tool used to understand complex systems, explore underlying causes, and identify potential future scenarios.

By delving into multiple layers of analysis, CLA provides a multidimensional perspective that goes beyond surface-level explanations.

Understanding Causal Layered Analysis

CLA operates on the premise that any issue or phenomenon can be examined at different levels, each offering unique insights.

These layers include the litany layer, system layer, worldview layer, and metaphor layer.

Here’s a brief overview of each layer:

  1. Litany Layer: This layer encompasses the facts, statistics, and visible issues associated with the problem at hand. It represents the most superficial and widely acknowledged aspects.
  2. System Layer: The system layer delves deeper by exploring the social, economic, and political structures that contribute to the issue. It looks at the interconnections and relationships within the system.
  3. Worldview Layer: Moving beyond the systemic analysis, the worldview layer examines the underlying values, beliefs, and cultural narratives that shape people’s perspectives. It explores the deep-seated assumptions that influence how we understand and respond to the issue.
  4. Metaphor Layer: The metaphor layer operates at the most abstract level, utilizing symbolic language and metaphorical thinking to reveal underlying meanings and alternative futures. It engages in reframing the issue to uncover new possibilities and transformations.

The Causal Layered Analysis Method

CLA is not a linear process but rather a recursive one, allowing for a constant reevaluation and refinement of insights.

Here’s a general overview of how to conduct a causal layered analysis:

  1. Identify the issue: Choose a topic or problem that you wish to analyze using CLA.
  2. Gather data: Collect information and data related to the issue, ranging from surface-level facts to deeper cultural narratives and metaphors.
  3. Analyze the litany layer: Start by examining the facts, statistics, and immediate causes and effects of the issue. This provides a foundation for further exploration.
  4. Explore the system layer: Investigate the systemic structures, relationships, and dynamics that contribute to the issue. Consider the social, economic, and political dimensions.
  5. Uncover the worldview layer: Dig deeper into the values, beliefs, and cultural narratives that shape perceptions and responses to the issue. Identify the underlying assumptions and dominant worldviews at play.
  6. Engage with the metaphor layer: Utilize metaphorical thinking and symbolic language to reframe the issue and uncover alternative futures. Challenge existing narratives and explore transformative possibilities.
  7. Iterate and refine: Repeat the analysis process, moving between layers and refining your insights. Continuously reassess your findings and explore additional perspectives.

Causal Layered Analysis Example: Exploring African American History

To illustrate how CLA can be applied, let’s consider an example of examining African American history:

  1. Litany Layer: This layer focuses on the facts and events related to African American history, including slavery, civil rights movements, and significant milestones.
  2. System Layer: The systemic analysis delves into the social, economic, and political structures that perpetuated racial inequality, such as slavery, segregation, and discriminatory policies.
  3. Worldview Layer: Uncovering the dominant worldviews and cultural narratives that influenced perceptions of African Americans. This layer explores concepts like white supremacy, racial stereotypes, and the fight for equality.
  4. Metaphor Layer: Engaging with the metaphor layer might involve reframing African American history as a journey of resilience, where narratives of struggle and triumph provide inspiration for future transformations.

Visual Design and Templates for Causal Layered Analysis

When conducting CLA, visual tools such as diagrams and templates can be helpful in organizing and presenting your analysis.

While there isn’t a standardized CLA template, you can create your own diagram or use various visual mapping techniques to represent the layers and their interrelationships visually.

This enhances clarity and facilitates communication of complex insights.

Conclusion: Unleashing the Power of Causal Layered Analysis

Causal Layered Analysis provides a multidimensional and comprehensive approach to understanding complex issues and their potential futures.

By exploring multiple layers of analysis, from surface-level facts to underlying worldviews and metaphors, CLA uncovers deeper insights and alternative possibilities.

It enables us to challenge dominant narratives, reimagine systems, and shape transformative futures.

Sohail Inayatullah’s CLA methodology encourages us to go beyond the superficial and engage with the stories and meanings that drive our perceptions and actions.

Related: Backcasting

Causal Layered Analysis: Sohail Inayatullah at TEDxNoosa

FAQs – Causal Layered Analysis

1. What is Causal Layered Analysis (CLA)?

Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) is a methodological framework developed by futurist Sohail Inayatullah to explore and understand complex issues and phenomena.

It provides a multi-layered approach to analyzing and interpreting social, cultural, and systemic challenges.

2. How does Causal Layered Analysis work?

Causal Layered Analysis works by examining issues and challenges across multiple layers or dimensions.

These layers include the litany layer (the surface-level events and facts), the systemic layer (underlying systems and structures), the worldview layer (values, beliefs, and ideologies), and the myth/metaphor layer (the underlying narratives and stories).

3. Can you provide an example of Causal Layered Analysis?

Let’s consider an example of climate change.

At the litany layer, we might observe rising global temperatures and extreme weather events.

The systemic layer could involve analyzing the underlying causes such as carbon emissions and deforestation.

The worldview layer would delve into different perspectives on environmental responsibility and sustainability.

Lastly, the myth/metaphor layer could explore narratives around humanity’s relationship with nature and the concept of intergenerational responsibility.

4. Are there any templates or diagrams available for Causal Layered Analysis?

Yes, there are various templates and diagrams available for Causal Layered Analysis.

These templates typically consist of a visual representation of the different layers and their interconnections, helping to organize and structure the analysis process.

These templates can be customized based on the specific issue or topic being explored.

5. How can Causal Layered Analysis be applied to different fields or areas, such as job analysis?

Causal Layered Analysis can be applied to various fields and areas, including job analysis.

In the context of job analysis, it can help to uncover the underlying factors influencing job satisfaction, employee motivation, and organizational culture.

By examining the different layers of the job experience, including litany (observable job tasks), systemic (organizational policies and practices), worldview (employee values and aspirations), and myth/metaphor (cultural narratives around work), a more comprehensive understanding can be gained.

6. Are there any notable examples of Causal Layered Analysis being used in practical settings?

Yes, there are several examples of Causal Layered Analysis being utilized in practical settings.

For instance, it has been employed in policy development to explore the underlying causes and potential solutions for social issues like poverty, education, and healthcare.

It has also been used in strategic planning and scenario development to anticipate and address future challenges in business and government sectors.

7. How can I write a Causal Layered Analysis?

To write a Causal Layered Analysis, you can follow these general steps:

  1. Identify the issue or topic you want to analyze.
  2. Start by examining the surface-level events, facts, and data related to the issue (litany layer).
  3. Explore the underlying systems, structures, and trends influencing the issue (systemic layer).
  4. Investigate the values, beliefs, and assumptions held by different stakeholders regarding the issue (worldview layer).
  5. Uncover the deeper narratives, metaphors, and stories that shape perceptions and actions (myth/metaphor layer).
  6. Analyze the interconnections and relationships between the different layers to gain insights and identify potential leverage points for change.
  7. Summarize your findings and draw conclusions based on the analysis.
  8. Communicate your analysis effectively, considering the intended audience and their level of familiarity with the concepts of Causal Layered Analysis.

8. Is Causal Layered Analysis applicable to African American history or other specific contexts?

Yes, Causal Layered Analysis can be applied to specific contexts, including African American history.

By exploring the different layers, it can help uncover the litany of historical events, examine systemic factors such as institutional racism and discriminatory policies, analyze the worldview layer to understand the values and ideologies that influenced historical developments, and delve into the myth/metaphor layer to explore the narratives and stories surrounding African American experiences.

9. Can Causal Layered Analysis be used for visual design or visual representation?

Causal Layered Analysis can be utilized in visual design and representation.

By creating visual diagrams or infographics that illustrate the different layers and their relationships, it becomes easier to communicate complex ideas and insights.

Visual design can enhance the understanding and engagement of stakeholders, facilitating a more effective analysis and exploration process.

10. Is there any literature or research available on Causal Layered Analysis by Sohail Inayatullah?

Yes, Sohail Inayatullah is a renowned futurist who developed the concept of Causal Layered Analysis.

He has written extensively on this topic, and you can find a wealth of literature and research by him.

Some notable works include “The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) Reader: Theory and Case Studies of an Integrative and Transformative Methodology” and “Understanding Sarkar: The Indian Episteme, Macrohistory, and Transformative Knowledge.”

These publications delve into the theory, methodology, and application of Causal Layered Analysis.

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