Example Environment Scan, © Kienco 2014-2017

Example Environment Scan, © Kienco 2014-2017

What is Environment Scanning?

Environment Scanning is a form of a Strategic Early Warning system - it allows organisations to identify strategic opportunities and threats early enough that the organisation can capitalise on opportunities and mitigate threats pro-actively, rather than reactively.  It's a critical input to scenario planning, and a key tool in futures thinking or applied foresight.

Environment Scanning forms a critical input into Kienco's model for developing workforce and organisational strategy.  By plotting trends, values, and events into an environment scanning quadrant, we are able to synthesize the enormous corpus of information about factors that may be influential in the future of industries, organisations, and the workforce. We then work with our clients to identify which factors should be further explored through Scenario Planning.

Environment Scanning is used to address educated incapacity - the concept that when we are so knowledgeable about our organisation and industry, that we are often the last to know when it is being transformed.  History is littered with organisations who missed the opportunity to respond in an agile way in the fact of external opportunities.  Kodak and Blockbuster are oft-cited examples.  A more contemporary example is the Taxi industry, which - despite being a regulated monopoly in practically every jurisdiction in which they operate around the world - have been fundamentally disrupted in just a few years since 2009, when Uber was a venture-funded app with just $200,000 in seed funding.

In the example shown to the right, the Environmental Scan is shown as a radar.  The size of the dots indicate the impact, the color indicates the uncertainty of the outcome, and the distance from the centre indicates the timeframe.  Using such a view allows us to effectively harness this research to determine which of these factors should be incorporated into Scenario Exploration and the Targeted Future, the next two steps in the methodology.  Each of these trends is interesting to explore in its' own right, but collectively they provide critical input into the development of strategy.

 Environment Scanning Quadrant, © Kienco 2014-2016

Environment Scanning Quadrant, © Kienco 2014-2016

For Strategic Workforce Planning, Environment Scanning is a process of determining the range of factors that may influence the organisation's workforce into the future.  These factors may come from inside or outside the organisation, and affect the supply of, or demand for, the workforce.  

Kienco's Environment Scanning framework divides these factors into four quadrants:

  • Internal Supply factors come from the workforce, and are typically identified through Workforce Analytics.  These include trends in hiring and separations, employee surveys, compensation, and so on.  You can read more about workforce analytics here.
  • External Supply factors are those that are outside the organisation, but relate to the supply of the workforce - essentially, the Labor Market.  These include the availability of skills, competitive information, and changes in compensation and work preferences and engagement types.
  • Internal Demand are those factors that relate to the type of work done by the workforce, determined from inside the organisation.  These may include new technologies, projects coming online, the strategy of the organisation, and so on.
  • External Demand is the final, and largest piece of the environment.  This quadrant covers the types of work demanded of the organisation's workforce, as determined outside the organisation.  Consumer preferences, sustainability, and globalisation play a part - but so do many other factors - the list is practically endless.  Occasionally, this is known as "PESTEL" analysis - that is, an analysis of Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal factors.

Kienco conducts Environment Scanning as part of our Strategic Workforce Planning methodology, and also as part of our Applied Foresight service.  Using Applied Foresight, we can help you to explore and create the future of your market, and take advantage of the opportunity in this complex environment.  We have completed this work with a range of organisations including in the telecommunications, local government, media, and legal sectors.  Contact us for more information about how you can bring Applied Foresight to your organisation!