Environment Scan Workshop
Recently, for a developmental evaluation project, I facilitated an environment scan workshop. I designed the workshop based on the need of the Centre that I am working with- Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research at the University of Toronto. The workshop used foundational understanding from the PESTEL Analysis, STEEP+V Analysis and systems thinking. The focus was on understanding the external forces, trends, and drivers that could potentially impact the Centre. The information gathered from the workshop will be data from which implications and insights can be abstracted to design the developmental evaluation model.
I wanted to share the workshop process for people or organizations that would like to scan the environment for their respective work. The how- to process is my no means a rigid guideline. It can be changed based on the requirements. If you do try the workshop at your organization or for your work please do share feedback.
What does this workshop do?
It analyzes the outside environment for an organization or individual by collecting trends, drivers and influences of 6 key areas: Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, Political and Values (STEEP+V). Usually, a google search will show STEEP or PESTEL analysis. 'V' is a useful addition to the list!
Purpose of the workshop?
It helps brainstorm the external influences that are affecting or will affect the organization in the present of future respectively, which is useful to design strategies and business plans. Sometimes, the reason why some strategies and ideas fail is that the external circumstances do not support them or might not be ready for them. Secondly, most of the early and mid-stage organizations are focused on internal survival and tend to keep their focus narrow, which leads to them being unprepared for the changes around them. It helps change the focus and view of leaders in the organization, which can bring a new perspective for growth. This is also a great team building exercise for the organization. It also works as a participatory research exercise and the data collected can be used towards informing insights and implications.
Stakeholders and/or internal team members can sit together and do this workshop together. Ideally, prior to the workshop, members should do their research to understand key trends and developments in the 6 areas mentioned (STEEP+V). This will bring good information to the brainstorming sessions.
I used 20 mins for a quick version of this workshop. However, an hour or more would be a good time to dive deeper and think together.
There should be one to two facilitators (depending on the size of the group), who will collect information, initiate discussions, ask questions and ensure everyone contributes.
Material required is: white board, board markers, post it notes, pens/markers
For the facilitators: 1. Draw the following diagram on the board. List down sub- topics within the 6 key areas (STEEP+V) respectively. The list of sub- topics is below. This list is a flexible one, there is no hard and fast rule. It can be adapted, expanded or shortened.
social attitudes and social taboos
recent socio-cultural changes
socio-cultural factors likely to drive change
Age distribution of the population
governments and educational institutions research focus
consumer buying mechanisms/technology
job market trends,
attitudes toward work
infrastructure changes that affect work patterns
funding, grants and initiatives
general taxation issues
taxation specific to product/services
interest and exchange rates
changes in legislation
Catastrophes/ natural disasters
Flora and fauna
government or regional policy
international politics effect
international pressure groups
wars and conflicts
trends in how people appreciate things
what ideologies and thought processes are preferred
Trends contributing to people’s happiness
Trends contributing to people’s pride
Trends towards people’s fulfillment
2. Discuss the purpose of this exercise and use to the organization.
Tip: Empower the participants by sharing that they are resourceful and valuable to the organization.
3. Start brainstorming for each section (e.g social), first the external influences from the country and then worldwide. Give time to the participants to write on the post-its. You can also ask questions to help participants think. Collect post-its (stickies) and stick them to the white board in the given area.
Move on to the next section repeating the same and mentioning the sub- topics each time for the respective section.
4. After collecting the stickies for all the sections, start a discussion based on the responses for each section. Spend 10-15 mins building a general discussion and take notes. The discussion should be about elaborating some of the points mentioned on the stickies.
5. Build the discussion to implications for the organization for each section. Questions could be:
What is the impact of these social trends and drivers on the organization?
Do you think we are prepared for these trends?
Are we already catering to these new developments and changes?
Other questions can also be asked.
Based on the time limit the facilitators can ask these questions for each section or for the entire map after the discussion.
6. For each section take votes for the leading trends or drivers that will have the most impact on the organization. Rank them according to votes. Voting can be done by different methods (ways can be found online). This part will help inform two things:
Differences in perspectives. What people think will impact them most?
What trends or drivers should be of high concern to the organization?
7. This information is key to the strategy developers and leaders of the organization. They can use the information gathered in many ways.
Hope to read your comments and feedback.