We Rep [Ideas]

Werep Environmental Scanning

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Environmental Scanning (ES) is a core method/approach used within foresight , strategic planning, design and innovation practices; it has been widely employed, discussed, and evolved by individuals and organizations for many many years. Environmental scanning is fundamentally about observing and learning from our “environment” in order to imagine-debate-decide and act.

Environmental scanning  involves the identification, collection and analysis of signals from a variety of subjects/contexts including: the social, scientific, technological, economic, environmental and political. We explore and question the potential of these inputs in order to develop a more informed understanding of operational contexts, the choices and opportunities therein.

We believe that environmental scanning should be approached as a discovery based learning process that is meant to:

  • increase awareness (our ability to orient)
  • improve literacy (our ability to understand, think critically and debate)
  • empower action (our ability to define, decide, create, plan and act).

The aim of environmental scanning is to discover and introduce new knowledge that challenges assumptions, provokes imaginations, inspires creative dialogues and meaningful expression.

ES helps to fill in critical knowledge gaps and establish a more complete awareness of past, present, and future situations; and to better understand our options and latent potential therein. ES tends to focus on three areas or “operational zones” including:

  • the core (immediate market, industry or operational contexts)
  • adjacent (areas that are known of but not occupied or well understood)
  • periphery (the completely foreign, unfamiliar, wild, and over the horizon unknowns)

We recommend a best practices approach to foresight and environmental scanning that combines all three previously described focus areas with varying degrees of attention and intensity. Establishing the right scope and balance between these impacts the breadth and depth of strategic VS tactical knowledge, insights and situational awareness.

Within the three operational zones mentioned above we scan for:

  • Examples of individual or collective behavior manifesting in a variety of ways including the habits, tasks, actions and activities of people; their unique and common modes of thought, expression/communication, the artifacts they collect, interact with and/or create, the way they work-play etc. Our approach to ES focuses on identifying and expanding upon the motivations, values and logic that underpins and drives behaviors, as well as, their meaning in relation to other signals/behaviors existing within adjacent contexts.
  • Existing, emerging, and anticipated technologies: we seek out and collect examples of relevant technology based on their functional qualities and characteristics; their potential to enable -and or- reveal behaviors, satisfy needs-wants-desires, and disrupt or challenge existing conventions and paradigms. In addition to identifying the salient qualities and characteristics of a particular technology we also focus our analysis on forecasting its potential evolution as an enabler of new behaviors and business models – and how a technology may be applied beyond its originally intended function and use.
  • Political, environmental and economic conditions that may influence, inspire, or have a significant impact upon- behavior (latent & manifest, individual & collective), the development and adoption of new technology; and the pace, type and nature of changing values, motivations, and attitudes.

Where does ES fit? ES can play an equally powerful role early on at the fuzzy front end of a strategic planning / innovation process helping to challenge, provoke, frame, inspire and guide. 2) During planning and innovation cycles in order to support, stimulate, expand, verify. 3) Post innovation and planning in order to help anticipate and chart long-term impacts.

ES can also be approached as a one-time ad-hoc activity, or as a cumulative-continuous and or ongoing process. For best results, Werep believes that ES should be approached as a cumulative, culturally embedded, and ongoing process that systematically builds up knowledge, literacy’s and awareness.

If you would like to learn more about our perspective and approach to environmental scanning please contact us at info@werepideas.com .


Written by mlincez

April 19, 2011 at 1:18 am

Posted in Scanning, WeRepIdeas

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