Scanning the environment for signals and trends that may affect your organization now and into the future can be an effective way to strengthen your strategy.

The first step in scanning is knowing what you are looking for. The narrower our frame is, the more impactful our efforts will be but the more likely it is that we may miss something.

  1. Once you have a frame, start your research by identifying a few key words and looking through news headlines, blogs, and journal articles to find signals.
  2. Capture the name of the post and a URL for each signal on a card
  3. There a number of ways you can ensure you have a breadth of signals before continuing to the next step. One such example is STEEPV:
    1. Society
    2. Technology
    3. Economics
    4. Ecology
    5. Politics
    6. Values
  4. Once you are happy with the amount of coverage you have in your signals, use the cluster tool to sort the needs into trends.
  5. After naming the trend, plot it on a s-curve or bell-curve:
    1. Beginning of curve—brand new trend with innovators, visionaries
    2. Early curve—emerging trends with early adopters
    3. Middle curve—established trends with majority adoption
    4. End of curve—old news with only laggards still discussing

Trends can be used to discuss drivers at play for your organization or problem frame. They can also add interesting texture to your scenarios.