3 Horizons

3 Horizons is a foresight method that asks us to consider what future we are working towards, and what kinds of emerging signals and trends we are seeing that will affect our ability to reach that target. It asks us to think about what will need to change in order to allow new things to emerge over time.

When to use it?

3 Horizons is useful when you have a desired future state in mind, and are trying to understand what changes are coming (or would need to happen) over a period of time to enable that future state to come about.

How to do it?

  1. Begin by identifying your desired future state. This could be using a particular scenario from other foresight work, or some existing outcome you are trying to achieve. Write that on the far right of H3.

  2. On the H1 line (from left to right), begin identifying things that will need to drop off over time to allow new things to emerge

  3. On H2 (from left to right), identify trends that you are already seeing emerge, and on H3 (from left to right), identify some signals that you believe are just beginning to emerge, but that will have significant effects in the future.

  4. At the intersections of H1 and H2, H1 and H3, and H2 and H3, identify critical junctures, or bridges, that will help you move from one point to the next over time.

People: 2-8

Time: 60 minutes

Pros and Cons

  • Allows us to think about what we need to do (and stop doing) to achieve the future we want
  • Enables us to have a conversation about present challenges
  • Allows us to consider bridges between current, medium term, and future states
  • Can help create a narrative around a potential path to a future state (how we will get there)
  • Can help visualize longer term changes


  • Doesn’t help us develop a desired future
  • Assumes a pathway that can be followed over time

Additional Resources

International Futures Forum “http://www.internationalfuturesforum.com/three-horizons

International Futures Forum Practice Centre “http://www.iffpraxis.com/three-horizons