The overall framework for this project uses the Three Horizons model as an analytical tool for examining the state of the garment industry and imagining how we might move to a more preferable future. This section will briefly describe the model, and illustrate how it can be used as a comprehensive, multi-dimensional framework for analyzing change.
The Three Horizons model is a futures-oriented sense-making tool first published in The Alchemy of Growth by Merhdad Baghai, Stephen Coley and David White in 1999. Eventually adapted by Andrew Curry and Anthony Hodgson, the diagram models three separate “horizons” of growth, with time along the x-axis, and fit for purpose along the y. Curry & Hodgson explain that, “the [y-axis] can also be assessed in terms of the prevailing degree of acceptance of ideas within society as a whole about the political, economic, organisational and cultural norms embedded in an organisation or network.” (Curry & Hodgson, 2008, p. 7). It is this interpretation of the y-axis that will be used in this research project.
The First Horizon (H1) in this model is characterized by the dominant mode of the prevailing system - it is the world of “business as usual”. As time progresses and the external environment evolves, it eventually loses its “fit”, but as Curry & Hodgson note, dominant systems do not vanish, but only fade slowly over time (Curry & Hodgson, 2008, p. 7). This has particular relevance to contexts in which the values of the current system have become so normalized they verge on the hegemonic.
The Third Horizon (H3) represents ideas of transformative change that are emergent but marginalized in the present, and hold the potential to displace the current paradigm of the First Horizon, “because they represent a more effective response to the changes in the external environment” (Curry & Hodgson, 2008, p. 2-3). There are many possible Third Horizons, and as each nascent idea “fumbles toward utopia” (Curry & Hodgson, 2008, p. 8), they are fuelled by the voices and experimentations of their ardent (but often power-deprived) advocates.
The Second Horizon (H2) inhabits the collision space between the First and Third Horizons. It is characterized by transition and instability, where the values of the dominant narrative (and its embedded structures) clash with emerging models for the future (Curry & Hodgson, 2008, p. 2-3). It is the bridge - however unstable and uncertain - between the present and the future.
Using this framework as an underlying structure for the analysis, this project first examines the resistance to change within the current system of fashion commerce to understand not only what and where resistance exists, but why. It should be noted that resistance to change is not a defined element of the Three Horizons Model, but is an important component of the First Horizon that needs to be understood if change is to occur; hence it has been included in this analysis.
Next, the First Horizon is explored to understand what’s broken now, but also to identify what’s worth keeping from the present. Attention is then turned to the Third Horizon to uncover evidence of the future in the now, which will help elucidate what the Third Horizon – the hopeful future - could become.
To conclude the analysis, the collision space between H1 and H3 (the Second Horizon) is contemplated with the goal of understanding how we might bridge between the two paradigms. Table 1 and Figure 3 summarize these steps and illustrate how each question relates to the Three Horizons model.
The diagram and table below summarize these steps and illustrates how each question relates to the Three Horizons model:
|1) Where does resistance to change exist within the system?||H1|
|2) What’s broken now?||H1|
|3) What’s worth keeping from the present?||H1|
|4) Where is evidence of the future in the now?||H3|
|5) What’s the hopeful future?||H3|
|6) How might we bridge between paradigms?||H2|
The Three Horizons model is often described in management literature as a structure for assessing potential opportunities for growth within an organization, but as explained by Curry and Hodgson, it can also be used to link futures-thinking to processes of change (Curry & Hodgson, 2008). By using the Three Horizons as an analytical tool for understanding how change could happen, the model offers a holistic view of the present moment, the preferred future, and how we might facilitate movement from one to the other.