The Role of Environmental Analysis in Strategic Planning
The Environmental Analysis (EA) component provides the intelligence to develop and implement your strategy.
As a rule the more in depth the analysis of your organisation’s environment, the more relevant the strategy and implementation initiatives.
So what do we mean by an EA or scan?
An EA provides a detailed look at your current strategic and operational conditions/issues that can impact the way we do business now and into the future. Only by understanding the economic, social and environmental (Green) position and trends can we then chart a course to success and sustainability.
An EA should be undertaken at both strategic and operational levels and then utilised to develop input into all levels of your strategic planning framework.
How can you carry out an EA?
The EA can be undertaken utilising a number of mechanisms including:
- Research into the latest trends and best practices
- Targeted surveys or forums of key stakeholders
- Specialist areas such as competitors, technology and people
- Interactive brainstorming sessions
An old fashion SWOT is still a good way of fleshing out an EA. Remember Strengths and Weaknesses are normally linked to internal issues whilst Opportunities and Threats are normally externally focused. There are also some great mindmapping tools that can be utilised online.
What’s the next step?
The positive and negative issues, trends, opportunities and challenges provide us with the first step in developing the “doing” things associated with our strategic plan. The secret is know which part of our Strategic Planning framework in which to fit the actions arising from the EA. Sorting actions in a logical way from a level perspective that enables ongoing monitoring and reporting is critical. By defining where we are now and the environmental conditions that impact us we can then develop game plan to get us where we want to go. The diagram below identifies the type of sorting out that is required after our EA:
The EA will provide a range of deliverables from a planning sense – sorting them out at the right level is the tricky bit! Many plans fail not by the standard of the game plan developed, but by the lack of structure in compiling the game plan. Clear definitions of your planning levels and examples are a must.
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