H3Uni Resource Library
Welcome to the H3Uni Resource Library
H3Uni is an educational enterprise dedicated to transformational learning that empowers people to foster transformative innovation in their communities and organisations.
This website is the growing H3Uni library of tools and methods that you can use to develop your skills in facilitating groups so that they can take more effective action in the face of the complex and uncertain future.
The materials here are made available to support H3Uni's educational programmes. You are free to make use of them without any support, but if you are new to futures work and facilitation you are likely to find it difficult to get the full value from them. Training is available from H3Uni, and you will find contact information to register for courses on the main H3Uni website.
Learning our way to the future
Educational systems are ill-prepared for the open and transformative future. Education is traditionally based on the transmission and application of existing knowledge within which there is expertise and authority. In the face of an unknown and uncertain future, the relevance of expertise based on the past is limited to those aspects of life which repeat themselves. But the future holds emergent properties that are inherently unknown. The two major sources of this unknown are firstly, that complex systems inherently generate previously unknown properties, and secondly, that both man and nature exercise creative power that generates the new.
Expert knowledge on its own is insufficient in the face of the unknown. The question is: what is the form of knowledge that can apply in these new conditions? Essentially, we need to switch from emphasis on content knowledge to emphasis on process knowledge. Process knowledge here means ways of structuring the exploration of partially known uncertain situations so as to realise new possibilities. This is a different type of knowledge to content knowledge, although it includes the capacity to operate with content knowledge. Process knowledge is essentially practice; it involves creating the conditions for groups to work together to harness their creative capacities to the full, so they can take steps forward while remaining open to the emerging future.
The materials on this website support H3Uni's programme of education and training in the practice of transformative learning by providing three things:
- Facilitation Guides: detailed step-by-step instructions for facilitating group thinking processes. They are laid out in a standard format, and are kept as succinct as possible so that they are suitable for use in live situations.
- Tutorials: deeper background explanations of the thinking frameworks of the Guides, including exercises for you to work through to test your understanding. The Guides list the tutorials that you should have studied before you use them.
- Foundational Techniques: foundational thinking techniques and framing concepts that support all the methods. These are presented in a short instructional form to encourage you to try them out. It is not essential to work through these before using the Guides, but they will help you deepen and extend your effectiveness in facilitating collaborative thinking and decision making.
- Diagnostics - what method should I use?: (this section under development)
Overview - Working in Three Horizons
Three Horizons is a simple and intuitive tool for thinking about the future. It helps groups explore systemic patterns to identify which of the dominant patterns are no longer fit for purpose, how the emerging trends can shape the future, and what visionary action is needed to collectively move us towards a viable future.
The Three Horizons Viewpoint is the foundational idea behind our idea of a University of the Third Horizon. Much follows from this starting point.
We have found that Three Horizons can be understood quickly and introduced into any strategic conversation with three main benefits:
- it helps groups begin to make sense of complex situations in a way amenable to incremental learning and visionary action;
- it supports an exploration of how to connect people's inner values with the outer patterns of life that they are seeking to change;
- it improves the dynamics of conversations by revealing the 'voices' of the three horizons as all having an important contribution.
There are innumerable tools and techniques for working with the future and creating innovative responses, and Three Horizons can be seen as just another one to put on the shelf alongside them. However, as presented here we see Three Horizons as a framework that integrates many different tools and H3Uni is using it as a foundational framing of all the tools and methods that will be made available.
This site is organised as a reference library of tools and methods so you can take any route through it, or just dip in for the things you need, but if you have come here looking for an introduction to H3Uni's approach to facilitating change you might like to explore the material in the following order:
- Three Horizons Tutorial and the associated Three Horizon Mapping Guide will equip you to run your first Three Horizons conversation.
- Then look at some of the foundational techniques to see how they might deepen your understanding of the work you've done with 3H and lead on to richer conversations:
- Also, look at the introductions to visual facilitation practice:
After that, we suggest you explore all the other foundational techniques and tutorials to find things that connect with your own needs, and make contact with H3Uni to join our community of practice.
As this website develops we will put in more guides and interactive learning tools.
H3Uni is for people who feel the need to improve and develop their thinking skills. We take the view that improving our thinking skills releases more of our innate intelligence. Thinking is not the only intelligence power we have but it tends to be very neglected in a world where memorising information and analytical processes take precedence. H3Uni treats thinking as a cognitive skill that requires the capacity to work with ideas, not simply have them as knowledge stored in the mind. H3Uni also treats thinking as a process that, if shared in a certain way, can enable a working group to be far more effective at generating new ideas and new designs than if they worked seperately. Such effective group work also requires facilitation skills.
This section introduces some powerful thinking frames that guide and organise our thought processes and that start to develop our personal thinking skills. In the facilitation process these skills, learned personally, help us work with, or facilitate, groups more effectively.
There are exercises for many of the techniques you need as a facilitator of the co-creational processes that follow in other sections. They are orientations of mind that are basic for successful transformational learning in practice. They are also really handy for tackling some of life's challenges more intelligently.
Try a few out for yourself! You will require some sheets of paper, or to print out a template from the wiki. You can use stickies for those methods that require visual manipulation of ideas as well juggling them in your own head.
- Holistic Thinking
- Holism with Focus Thinking
- Generative Thinking
- Causal Loop Thinking
- Hexagon Thinking
- Reflective Thinking
- Lateral Thinking
- Dilemma Thinking
- Contextual/Transactional Thinking
- Ecosystem Thinking
- Value Constellation Thinking
- Evaluative Thinking
You are advised to go through these tutorials before using the corresponding facilitation guide.
- Fivefold Practice Tutorial
- Visual Facilitation Tutorial
- Hexagon Thinking Tutorial
- Scoping Tutorial
- Three Horizons Tutorial
- Dilemma Thinking Tutorial
These guides provide step by step instructions for taking a team through a specific thinking process to produce a defined outcome. Generally a project will use several of these, and the output of one is produced in a form suitable for input to another, though they can usually also be used standalone with a little ad hoc set up.
All of them assume that as a facilitator you are thoroughly practiced in Visual Facilitation skills, and that you have a room and materials set up suitably as described there. The guides only include information on room layout and resources when these are additional to the general requirements.
All of the methods also rely on the facilitator understanding the underlying thinking technique. Links to the appropriate tutorials are included at the start of each guide.