Using the Three Horizons framework to seed futures for wellbeing

Griffith Centre for Systems Innovation
Good Shift
Published in
2 min readNov 2, 2023


This piece is part of our visualising change series (read more about it here). It was written in 2023 and reflects our thinking at that time.

The graphic we share here is from our publication Seeding Futures for Wellbeing and reimagines the Three Horizons framework as creating different conditions for seeding futures.

We offer the publication as a collective imagination starter kit across seven themes. We’re pulling some of the graphics out on their own to give them some space and hopefully spark some imagining.

One of the frameworks we use a lot is the Three Horizons framework by Bill Sharpe and the International Futures Forum (2016). In our recent publication Seeding Futures for Wellbeing, we reimagined it as creating different conditions for seeding futures.

We think there are five core rhythms to helping shift from big ideas to big realities (not in a linear way, but more as a continuous rhythm):

1. Learning the territory: understand the histories of the idea, origins, traditions and lessons learnt

2. Making visible existing seeds + saplings: finding what is already planted, and nurturing these, creating conditions for these to flourish

3. Seeding collective imaginations towards transitions: working with diverse peoples to create participatory processes in imagining HOW positive futures might be created

4. Biodegrading incumbent systems: in order to make space for the new, we need to find ways to biodegrade what is no longer fit for purpose — this is a whole body of work in itself and rarely discussed or enacted!

5. Seeding possibilities + creating conditions for possible futures: seeds can take years to germinate…but unless they are planted in the present, and the conditions for them to grow are present, there is no hope for generating forests of future possibilities.

And while we love thinking towards 3rd Horizons, and recognise the importance of imagining where we need to shift to, at the moment we’re particularly interested in the NOW. How do we biodegrade incumbent systems without blowing everything up? What’s the ‘best next step’ we need to take towards better or new systems?

The Three Horizons reimagined as seeding collective imaginations towards transitions, focusing on nurturing conditions for existing saplings to flourish, making visible existing seeds and saplings of the future, creating and investing in a transition ‘seed bank’ that fosters both collective imagination and experimentation, embedding a strong culture of adaptation and seeding collective imagination and the supporting conditions to enable them
The Three Horizons Framework (Bill Sharpe + IFF) reimagined as creating different conditions for seeding futures, GCSI, 2023



Griffith Centre for Systems Innovation
Good Shift

Griffith University's Centre for Systems Innovation exists to accelerate transitions to regenerative and distributive futures through systems innovation