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Mod. 3.2 - Focal Question/Which Horizons to Scan?

After a working consensus on the shape of change (Forces of Change; Big Shifts) has been established, the foresight process turns its attention to anticipating and/or imagining various kinds of responses to this change.

The rest of the foresight process is guided by a Focal Question. As its name indicates, the Focal Question helps narrow our lens from the macro-context of what is changing in the world at large to the (relatively) micro-context of what responses to change are we particularly interested in anticipating/imagining.

Asking good questions in foresight (like in other areas of life) is more art than science, and there is nothing like practice to improve artistic prowess. That said, below are a few guidelines and pointers that should help your team decide on a good Focal Question for the rest of your foresight exploration.

Create a prototype of your question by considering it to be made up of (roughly) 3 essential parts — what kinds / forms of responses to what shifts in what domain / issue are we interested in?

This is where the activities and reflections that you have already done should give you a head-start: the GNH domain that you are collectively interested in is a great starting-point for thinking about the domain/issue (you may want to focus further on a specific aspect); the fact that our course is about emerging ways of working together should direct your interest in kinds/forms of responses towards new organizational forms / practices / principles / capacities / etc. related to collaboration; and you have already done some thinking around the Big Shifts that are of particular relevance to the GNH domain of interest.


Cybrarians of Vibrancy (Ben, Cara, Ryan, Sara S., Vince)

Essential parts to prototype to find the “Focal Question”

  1. What kinds/forms of responses?

  2. What shifts?

  3. What domain/issue are we interested in?


Cara - Do we want to land on psychological well being (GNH Index)?

Ryan - Maybe the emerging societal shift from GDP growth to GNH equilibrium?

Sara S. - Let’s see if we can find a focal question that addresses both.

Entire Group - Agreed!

GNH 9 Domains of Measurement:

1. Psychological Well Being

2. Material Well Being/Standard of Living

3. Good Governance

4. Health

5. Education

6. Community Vitality

7. Cultural Diversity and Resilience

8. Balanced Time Use

9. Ecological Diversity


We want to think about the issues with unlimited GDP growth as a guiding principle and how the GNH equilibrium can help to solve some of those issues.

We know that trying to eliminate or course correct the principle of unlimited GDP growth is impossible, so instead we have to envision ways in which the principle can evolve towards the GNH equilibrium.

So, it sounds like we want to take all of the domains measured in the GNH equilibrium and see how each one is currently being addressed in capitalism globally and where the shortfalls can be addressed within the principles of GNH.

If we apply some of the ideas of non-hierarchical leadership and view all of these areas as a holistic organism in flux with each other, similar to the teal business model and begin to tickle the edges, what ideas come to mind?


  • Centering

  • Genesis

  • Fruition

  • Cultivate

  • Germination

  • Pollination

It looks like we are leaning into a planting metaphor to center our focal question by drawing inspiration from the ways nature addresses the GNH domains. Looking at ideas of cultivation, evolution, caring and tending for what we’ve been given and working in partnership with the natural world. That idea itself is pretty radical. Let’s see if we can apply all of these ideas into one focal question.


How might we compost unlimited GDP growth and germinate the emerging GNH equilibrium?

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