Causal layered analysis
Causal layered analysis (CLA) is a technique used in strategic planning and futurology to more effectively shape the future. The technique was pioneered by Sohail Inayatullah, a Pakistani-Australian futurology researcher.
Causal layered analysis works by identifying many different levels, and attempting to make synchronized changes at all levels to create a coherent new future. Inayatullah’s original paper as well as his TEDx talk identify four levels:
- The litany: This includes quantitative trends, often exaggerated and used for political purposes. The result could be a feeling of apathy, helplessness, or projected action. Inayatullah calls this “the conventional level of futures research which can readily create a politics of fear.”
- Social causes, including economic, cultural, political, and historical factors.
- Structure and the discourse that legitimizes and supports the structure.
- Metaphor and myth
History of research
CLA was first introduced explicitly as a futures research technique by Sohail Inayatullah in a 1998 article for Futures that would come to be widely cited. Later, Inayatullah would edit the CLA Reader, that featured chapters from a number of futurists and practitioners describing their experience with CLA.
Inayatullah’s work on CLA was examined in a book by Jose W. Ramos in 2003.
Sohail Inayatullah and Ivana Milojevic have published an update in 2015. With various authors, they investigate topics such as:
- The Global Financial Crisis
- Terrorism futures
- Global governance
- Ageing and the changing workforce
- Educational and university futures
- Climate change
- Water futures in the Muslim world
- The alternative futures of China
- Agricultural policy in Australia
- The new national narrative in Singapore