The Environmental Scan – A Key Tool for your Strategic Planning

It is generally recognized that organizations must adapt to their environments in order to survive and prosper.

Effectively interpreting, analyzing and using the right information at the right time plays a crucial role in the success or failure of a business or organization. Unfortunately, many decision makers often lack the time and skills required to search for, interpret, synthesize and apply information to their decision-making and problem-solving processes and often fail ‘to take full advantage of the abundance of information at their disposal.

What is an environmental scan?

An environmental scan is an objective review and analysis of the current and potential conditions in which your organization is and will be operating.  The results are extremely useful in shaping goals and strategies.

The process originated in strategic business management to identify potential positive and negative impacts caused by the external macro-level environment, the industry, and competitors, as well as the internal environment.

It allows you to review trends and forecasts and ask your stakeholders – constituency, clients, funders, volunteers and collaborators alike: What trends are impacting your life, your priorities, your work? And how?

Environmental factors to consider:

Many organizations and individuals are unaware of the value of information or of the consequences of lack of information.

The practice of environmental scans commonly occurs during a strategic planning process every 3-5 years.  However, given the accelerated pace of change, it is suggested you incorporate a mini environmental scan into the annual budgeting process.

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