What is your futures orientation?

A tool to become mindful about your engagement with the future

Puja Prakash
3 min readJul 2, 2021


I recently wrote an article about the three critical skills to cultivate to think like a futurist. Metacognition is one of the three core foresight skills. It is the ability to be aware of your cognition process. It illuminates your thinking process, dominant worldview, and the way you communicate your ideas with people. For anyone keen on planning their own future using the strategic foresight lens, this is a profound skill to build.

There are many ways to sharpen your metacognition skill, one of which is through a well-known foresight game called the Polak Game. This game was one of the first things I got exposed to on my foresight learning journey. The Polak Game is set up on a 2x2 matrix, where the vertical axis is a spectrum between optimism and pessimism. The horizontal axis is a spectrum between high to low ability to influence change.

Where do you stand?

These axes create 4 quadrants that represent four different ideological positions people hold towards the future. Through this exercise, people self-identify in one of the four quadrants formed by the axes.

  • Quadrant 1: “I feel optimistic about the future and can influence it to be better”. People in this category are what Peter Hayward describes as “agentic”. Here people have optimism coupled with the power to make things even better than they are.
  • Quadrant 2: “I feel optimistic about the future, but I don’t know what I can do to influence it”. The energy of people belonging in this category is “service-oriented”. They feel optimistic about the future, but also believe that larger systemic forces have more power to influence it for the better. But, they are inclined to play their part in contributing towards systemic change.
  • Quadrant 3: “I feel pessimistic about the future, but I can shape and influence it”. Here, individuals are generally pessimistic about the way things are going. They do not expect to dramatically change the future but believe they can positively impact the current situation. They are often referred to as “realists”.
  • Quadrant 4: “I feel pessimistic about the future, but I don’t have the power to change it”. People in this quadrant are pessimistic about…



Puja Prakash

Deeply curious about how foresight can help individuals take control of their futures. Foresight Strategist / MDes in Strategic Foresight & Innovation @ OCAD U