In this video by Kate Raworth of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Kate briefly summarizes the framework put forth by Bill Sharpe in his book "Three Horizons, The Patterning of Hope" from 2013.
Three Horizons Framework - A Quick Introduction
I found this concept to be helpful in visualizing the transition process from the industrial mindset to a new sustainable systems mindset. One of the problems, and perhaps the biggest, that we face when struggling with the goal of sustainability, is that we are initially trying to solve the problem with the same mentality that started it. By looking at sustainability piece by piece in our current industrial system, we end up trying to improve parts independently, when it is becoming obvious that several 'parts' of our civilization do not function in an environmentally sustainable system.
For example, in my first post I shared a video of a talk about continuous improvement in manufacturing. The concept of continuous improvement, when applied to the auto industry, resulted in producing more automobiles more efficiently. However, in time we realized that this efficiency in the auto industry was hurting the efficiency of our ecosystem by increasing the use of personal automobiles to an extent that is not tolerable when trying to maintain a sustainable civilization. Through systems thinking, we are able to better understand the larger picture and can then determine which aspects of our society are necessary, and which should be discontinued.
One difficulty in systems thinking is visualizing how we get from what is to what will be. In order to make the visualization of progress easier, we can look at it through the framework of 3 horizons. We can visualize the first horizon as business-as-usual. The first horizon conveys the current practice or situation that is currently dominant. The future we anticipate, or that is currently emerging can then be visualized as the third horizon. Horizon 2 is where we would insert a disruptive innovation that could be social or technological in nature, and would expediate the transition from business as usual to our emergine future. In reality this 2nd horizon, once indentified as a disruptive force can be harnessed for its bridging potential towards an emergent future, or hijacked in order to further enforce the status quo. In the video Kate used the example of UBER as a captured disruptive technology that can result in the emerging future of the third horizon being supressed or eliminated. Kate compares UBER to Austin Rides as a disruptive technology that is being harnessed for transition from ineffective personal travel to a rideshare technology with the possibility of reducing cars on the road and fuel consumed. If the technology of ridesharing is realized it can potentially reverse some of the problems caused by our earlier ambitions of industrial efficiency.
I can easily see how this 3 horizons framework can aide in a multitude of situations, if not all situations, concerning our modern move towards a global sustainable human society. Once we realize and can visualize the transition from where we are to where we need to be, this framework can help to identify and utilize disruptive mediums to ensure a prompt, and just transition, and avoid the potential collapses that can occur as we transform our mesh of human cultures into a conscious global society for generations to come.