Organizations use environmental scanning to monitor important events in their surrounding
environment. It is a way to answer the question, "What's happening in my environment that will affect
my future?" Scanning involves identifying the issues and trends that have important implications for
the future. The scanning includes analysis of the information about these issues and trends to assess
their importance and determine their implications for planning and strategic decision making.
What is it?
Discover emerging trends of strategic importance. Scanning is different from ordinary information
gathering in that it is concerned primarily with the future, emerging trends, and issues that have
strategic importance for your organization.
Gather information from variety of sources. It ...view middle of the document...
What is it good for?
Take advantage of opportunities. Environmental scanning can help capitalize on emerging
opportunities. It can be an important part of strategic planning by helping you shape strategy to better
fit emerging conditions. When asked his hockey strategy, Wayne Gretsky is reported to have said, "I
just skate to where the puck is going to be."
Anticipate developments to avoid costly mistakes. Scanning also helps avoid costly mistakes by
helping planners and decision makers anticipate new developments. This is particularly important in
any planning that involves information technology, since the capabilities and costs of IT are evolving at
a rapid pace.
Some limitations and considerations
Level of resources required. It's hard to judge the appropriate level of resources to devote to
environmental scanning. Where environmental conditions are turbulent and full of potentially
significant changes, large amounts of resources may be justified. Even with large efforts, there is no
guarantee that some wholly-unanticipated event will cause serious problems or present a great
opportunity for which you aren't prepared.
Interpretation an inexact science. More importantly, the interpretation of trend information and
forecasting is an inexact science at best. The farther into the future a scan probes, the more careful
you must be with the interpretation.
Self-assessment tools include a wide range of methods to gather information about a current situation
or performance. They are designed to answer the question, "How are we doing?" These tools range
from something as simple as a newspaper survey asking readers to rate their knowledge of the
Internet to the kind of year-long institutional self- assessment procedures used in hospital
accreditation. The essential element in all these tools is they recognize that many kinds of assessment