A Futurist's Fieldguide
Causal layered analysis is a futures research method focusing on in-depth analysis of current issues and identifying alternative futures. The analysis happens on four levels: litany, social or systemic causes, discourse/worldview and myth/metaphor. Litany identifies current issues, assumptions, facts and data. At the next layer the social or systemic causes underlying the 'litany' are analysed. At the discourse layer, dominant worldviews and mindsets are examined, which give rise to the issues. The deepest layer looks at the foundational myths, metaphors and archetypes that influence the unconscious and/or emotional undertone beneath the issues.
After understanding the layered causes of an issue, the method suggests looking at alternatives – either within each layer or beginning with a new myth/metaphor and working up through the layers to create an alternative scenario. From this alternate scenario, new possibilities can be distilled and translated into solutions, policies, and other types of actions that one can begin implementing in the present.
A minimal spatial setup for this technique requires a semicircle of chairs facing a large vertical writing surface (black/whiteboard, large piece of paper…). Depending on the size of the group, you might need to have break-out discussions as well.