Strategic Planning Retreats

Facilitating the Environmental Scan

The purpose of the Environmental Scan is to identify the major trends in the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, and Competitive environments that will effect your future success. Meeting Facilitators International believes that the difference between a useful environmental scan, and one that is completed then forgotten depends on three things.

  1. How carefully have the trends been identified?
  2. Have you taken the time to “connect the dots” between the trend and your organization?
  3. Have you ranked the trends in terms of importance?

A general unranked list of forty trends like “China” and “the aging of the baby boom” is worthless. We believe that a strong facilitator can help you prepare a better Environmental Scan.

Identifying the Trends

This step in the process can be completed as a brainstorming step at a planning retreat, however we find it more effective to collect the trends in advance of the retreat using an online survey. Using a tool like survey monkey we ask a series of open ended questions. Prior to the session the facilitator sorts and summarizes all of the responses. Typically working with a senior management team we will identify twenty to twenty-five trends.

Connecting the Dots

During the retreat one of the first things we will do is to review and clarify the list of trends collected during the pre-session interviews. At this time we also make sure to “connect the dots”. What we mean by this is that for every trend on the list it should be obvious how that trend will effect the organization going forward. The point of an Environmental Scan is not to predict whether interest rates, or the dollar, will go up or down or stay the same, unless that change can be linked to future success of the organization. (e.g. for a US based manufacturer — The increasing strength of the Euro is making European products less competitive in the United States, while making US manufactured products more attractive in Europe.)

Priority Ranking the List

Finally a facilitator can help make an Environmental Scan more effective by facilitating a priority ranking exercise. Twenty five trends are overwhelming. A clear consensus on the top ten trends is something that the team can pay attention to and can plan accordingly as the session proceeds. A straight forward ranking technique like a multivote will allow the group to quickly see what the majority are calling the top trends.

For more details on this and our entire approach to strategic planning retreats why not contact us?

From Our Clients

“Over the past five or six years we have worked with Bruce more than a dozen times as a focus group moderator for our pharmaceutical and medical device clients. The clients are always impressed with how quickly Bruce picks up challenging concepts and how easily he communicates them. The high-quality feedback and insight he draws from the focus group participants is what we are all looking for. Bruce’s track record in exceeding client objectives makes me extremely comfortable recommending him to any of our clients regardless of therapeutic area.”

David Small

Vice President Events, Frontline Medical Communications, Inc.

“We wanted to find somebody unbiased, with no agenda, who could lead the retreat and pull in all points of view. Bruce did this and more. He brought some clever ways to make sure that we fully explored our ideas and he forced the discipline of setting priorities and of committing to an action plan. We have now used him three years in a row since everyone sees the value he adds and trusts his process.”

Mary Todd Peterson

CEO, Medmarc Insurance Group