Futures Wheel – Visualizing Consequences & Implications

In a rapidly changing world, it becomes increasingly important to anticipate and understand the potential consequences of our actions and decisions.

The Futures Wheel is a powerful method that allows individuals and groups to explore the potential future implications of a particular event, trend, or decision.

By visualizing the potential outcomes and their cascading effects, the Futures Wheel enables more informed decision-making and strategic planning.

Here we look into the concept of the Futures Wheel, its methodology, and provide examples of its application in various contexts.

Understanding the Futures Wheel

The Futures Wheel is a method used to systematically analyze and visualize the potential consequences and implications of a particular event or decision.

It provides a structured framework for considering both direct and indirect impacts, helping to uncover insights that may have otherwise been overlooked.

The method was developed by Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, futurists and founders of The Millennium Project, a global think tank.

What You Don’t Know About Futures Wheels

The Methodology of the Futures Wheel

The Futures Wheel methodology consists of a series of steps that guide individuals or groups through the process of analyzing and visualizing the consequences of a particular event or decision.

Here is a simplified overview of the methodology:

  1. Identify the event or decision: Begin by clearly defining the central event or decision that you want to explore. This could be anything from a technological advancement to a social trend or a policy change.
  2. Brainstorm direct consequences: Identify the immediate and direct consequences that are likely to result from the event or decision. These are the most immediate effects that can be directly linked to the central event.
  3. Explore second-order consequences: Consider the indirect consequences that result from the direct consequences. Ask yourself, “What are the effects of these direct consequences?” This step helps to uncover a broader range of impacts.
  4. Cascade the consequences: Continue cascading the consequences, moving from second-order to third-order and beyond. Each level of consequences should be explored and documented, creating a visual representation of the potential future implications.
  5. Analyze and prioritize: Once the Futures Wheel is complete, analyze the consequences and assess their importance and likelihood. Prioritize the most significant consequences based on their potential impact and likelihood of occurrence.

Implications Wheel vs. Futures Wheel

You may come across the term “Implications Wheel” in your research.

While the Implications Wheel shares similarities with the Futures Wheel, there are key differences between the two.

The Futures Wheel primarily focuses on exploring the potential consequences and implications of a specific event or decision.

On the other hand, the Implications Wheel is a broader framework used to analyze the implications of a range of factors, including trends, uncertainties, and events, to inform decision-making.

Applications and Examples of the Futures Wheel

The Futures Wheel can be applied to various contexts, including business, policy-making, technology, and personal decision-making.

Here are a few examples to illustrate its versatility:

  1. Illustrating consequences from artificial intelligence: Suppose you want to explore the potential consequences of widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). The Futures Wheel can help you identify and visualize the direct and indirect impacts on employment, privacy, ethics, and more.
  2. Deliberation and decision-making tool: The Futures Wheel can be used as a tool for group discussions and deliberation. It allows stakeholders to collectively explore the potential outcomes of different decisions, helping to facilitate informed and inclusive decision-making processes.
  3. Industry 4.0 and future trends: In the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), the Futures Wheel can be utilized to analyze the potential consequences of emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), automation, and advanced robotics on various industries.

Creating a Futures Wheel

Creating a Futures Wheel can be done using various tools, including pen and paper, whiteboards, or digital platforms.

For digital platforms, there are templates available in PowerPoint, Prezi, and other presentation software.

Additionally, online tutorials and YouTube videos can guide you through the process of creating a Futures Wheel.


The Futures Wheel is a valuable methodology for exploring and visualizing the potential consequences and implications of events, decisions, and trends.

By systematically analyzing the direct and cascading consequences, individuals and groups can gain deeper insights into the potential future outcomes.

Whether used in business, policy-making, or personal decision-making, the Futures Wheel empowers individuals and organizations to make more informed choices in an increasingly complex world.


FAQs – Futures Wheel

1. What is the Futures Wheel?

The Futures Wheel is a strategic planning tool and methodology used to explore the potential consequences and implications of a particular event, trend, or decision.

It helps individuals or groups identify and visualize the possible future outcomes that may arise from a central idea or factor.

2. How can I create a Futures Wheel?

To create a Futures Wheel, you can follow these steps:

  1. Start with a central idea, event, or decision you want to explore.
  2. Write down this central idea in the center of a blank sheet of paper or a digital document.
  3. Identify the direct consequences or implications that may arise from the central idea, and write them down around the central idea, forming the first layer of the wheel.
  4. For each direct consequence or implication, brainstorm and write down the potential secondary consequences or implications that may result from them, forming the second layer of the wheel.
  5. Continue this process, creating additional layers of consequences or implications that may arise from the previous layers.
  6. Connect the different layers with arrows to show the cause-and-effect relationships.
  7. Once completed, analyze the Futures Wheel to gain insights into the potential outcomes and consider the significance of each consequence.

3. What is the difference between the Implications Wheel and the Futures Wheel?

The Implications Wheel and the Futures Wheel are similar in their purpose of exploring the consequences and implications of a central idea.

However, they differ in their focus and scope:

  • Futures Wheel: The Futures Wheel primarily focuses on exploring the future outcomes and consequences that may arise from a central idea, event, or decision. It visualizes the cause-and-effect relationships in a multi-layered structure, helping individuals or groups understand the potential long-term effects.
  • Implications Wheel: The Implications Wheel, on the other hand, is more concerned with analyzing the present and immediate consequences or implications of a central idea, event, or decision. It examines the direct and near-term effects without delving extensively into long-term outcomes.

4. Can you provide some examples of Futures Wheel analysis?

Certainly! Here are a few examples of topics where the Futures Wheel analysis could be applied:

  • Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Employment: Central Idea – Widespread adoption of AI in various industries.
  • Consequences of Climate Change: Central Idea – Rising global temperatures and extreme weather events.
  • Effects of Aging Population: Central Idea – Increasing proportion of elderly individuals in society.
  • Implications of Blockchain Technology: Central Idea – Adoption of decentralized digital ledger systems.

In each of these examples, the Futures Wheel analysis would involve identifying and exploring the multiple layers of consequences and implications that may result from the respective central ideas.

5. How can I explain the Futures Wheel methodology?

When explaining the Futures Wheel methodology, you can follow these key points:

  • The Futures Wheel is a strategic planning tool.
  • Its purpose is to explore the potential consequences and implications of a central idea, event, or decision.
  • It helps individuals or groups visualize the cause-and-effect relationships and understand the potential long-term effects.
  • The methodology involves creating a multi-layered diagram, where each layer represents a level of consequences or implications.
  • Starting with the central idea, direct consequences or implications are identified and then expanded upon with secondary and subsequent layers.
  • The completed Futures Wheel provides insights into the potential outcomes, helping with decision-making and future planning.

6. Where can I find a Futures Wheel PowerPoint template?

You can find Futures Wheel PowerPoint templates on various online platforms, including presentation template websites and marketplace platforms.

Simply search for “Futures Wheel PowerPoint template” in your preferred search engine or visit reputable template providers to explore their available options.

7. Is there a Futures Wheel creator software or tool available?

While there might not be specific software or tools dedicated solely to creating Futures Wheels, you can utilize general diagramming or mind-mapping software to create your own.

Tools like Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Visio, Lucidchart, or even online mind-mapping tools provide features and templates that can be adapted for creating a Futures Wheel.

8. How does the Futures Wheel aid decision-making?

The Futures Wheel serves as a decision-making tool by offering a systematic approach to exploring potential consequences and implications.

By visually mapping out the cause-and-effect relationships of a central idea, decision-makers can gain a comprehensive understanding of the long-term effects and implications associated with different choices.

This allows for more informed decision-making and the ability to anticipate and address potential risks or opportunities.

9. Can the Futures Wheel be used in specific industries like Industry 4.0?

Absolutely! The Futures Wheel can be applied to any industry, including Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

By examining the consequences and implications of emerging technologies, automation, connectivity, and data-driven systems within the context of Industry 4.0, decision-makers can better understand the potential impacts on workforce, production processes, supply chains, and business models.

10. What are the subjects or topics suitable for Futures Wheel discussions?

Futures Wheel discussions can be conducted on a wide range of subjects or topics. Some examples include:

  • Technological advancements and their societal impacts
  • Environmental changes and sustainability issues
  • Economic trends and market disruptions
  • Social or demographic shifts
  • Policy decisions and their consequences
  • Business strategies and innovations
  • Healthcare advancements and their implications
  • Educational reforms and their long-term effects

The choice of subject or topic depends on the specific interests, objectives, or challenges faced by individuals or groups engaging in Futures Wheel discussions.

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