In my last blog article, I’ve talked about biases and how they influence our thinking and imagination about the future. Today, we want to dig a bit deeper and analyze worldviews and metaphors, where most of our biases and mental models are rooted. Understanding different worldviews is important as a wide range of futures thinking is influenced by our cultural, cognitive and social backgrounds. In order to understand pictures of the futures, we need to understand where our current knowledge is based on. Therefore, the analysis of our current worldviews and underlying metaphors is indispensable.
Why is it important to see the world with different eyes?
We can compare mental belief systems with the structure of an iceberg. In general, we see and analyze trends and emerging issues that are on the surface. When we make our decisions, however, there are more processes under the surface that influence our decisions. If we do not analyze these deeper layers, we will have difficulties to follow through with active change as our actions won’t follow our speech. The typical shape of an iceberg is also used by Sohail Inayatullah, as a visualization of his CLA — Causal Layered Analysis, a new Foresight method to unravel our worldviews and underlying metaphors.
Causal layered analysis (CLA) consists of four levels:
- Litany = trends and emerging issues
- Social causes = economic, cultural and historical facts
- Worldviews = civilizational perspective
- Metaphors = deep stories, collective archetypes and the unconscious
The expansion of our horizons is important to any futures work, as diverse cultural backgrounds can lead to different futures. When deconstructing our mental models by visiting every level of the CLA, we learn more about the origin of our perspectives while understanding the barriers that hind us from imagining a different future. Through finding the roots of our mindsets we are able to question them and reshape our way of thinking by replacing our old worldview and metaphors with new ones.
Looking for an example of how powerful a CLA can be?
During a future thinking workshop facilitated by Sohail, I have experienced one of the best examples of how powerful a CLA can be. The workshop focused on a new Aboriginal workforce strategy in Australia as well as empowering the Aboriginal people to create new futures for their communities. When the workshop started, the Aboriginal people felt powerless about their current situation as they felt their opinions had little meaning and their actions were not recognized enough. This feeling was mostly based on the historic claim of Australian land by the first British settlers and the only slowly and partial return of the land to the Aboriginal people.
The CLA unraveled the current worldview of the Aboriginal people: that Australia and its land are still owned by the immigrated population and that the Aboriginal people felt quite stranded in claiming it back. In the process of the CLA, we shifted the worldview from Australia — a land that has been claimed by the European immigrants to Australia — a land owned by mother earth herself and therefore not claimable by anyone. This idea was rooted in the fact that New Zealand granted personal rights to the Whanganui , which now needs to be represented by a legal attorney for any environmental matter in court.
This new point of view offered the advantage that instead of claiming the land back, the Aboriginal people could refer to the fact that the land has power itself and the Aboriginal people shall be seen as guardians of the ancient land. Being a guardian contains much less tension than being the people trying to claim their land back for years. Additionally, it creates a future where both, the Aboriginal people and the immigrated population may build a new future with less tension. Spreading the words in their communities about being the knowledge keepers of the land and that all the claims of the first European settlers have actually never changed the true ownership of the land, has created a new hopeful future for the Aboriginal people.
Instead of giving the land back to the Aboriginal people, the ancestors of the first European settlers must release the land back to mother earth. Standing in for this view, the Aboriginal people felt moved to fight for this positive future. Nonetheless, this does not change the fact that the land has to be released or returned legally, but it shifts the worldview to a better common understanding where both parties can build on and empowered the Aboriginal people to fight for mother earth.
Start following me for more details on how to unlock your futures mindset in our next blog post.
Read also my previous post: How to become aware of your biases?
Discover the futurist in you! –Tanja
- More on CLA Analysis by Sohail Inayatullah http://www.metafuture.org/Articles/CausalLayeredAnalysis.htm
- New Zealand grants personal rights to a river: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/16/new-zealand-river-granted-same-legal-rights-as-human-being
- Article about the struggle of Aboriginal people claiming their land back http://www.lifegate.com/people/news/kenbi-land-claim-australia-larrakia-victory